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The Inner Game of Tennis

The Ultimate Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

By W. Timothy Gallwey
12-minute read
Audio available
The Inner Game of Tennis: The Ultimate Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey

The Inner Game of Tennis (1972) explains the tension between your conscious and unconscious minds, and how this conflict relates to performance, specifically through the lens of tennis. These blinks offer concrete advice on how to harness your natural ability and excel both on the court and off.

  • Athletes who want to improve their game
  • Entrepreneurs seeking a performance boost
  • All readers who want to live a more fulfilling life

W. Timothy Gallwey played tennis himself before becoming a tennis instructor, where he discovered the power of mental training. Now he’s a best-selling author and business coach who applies the “Inner Game” to a broad range of everyday challenges and situations.

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The Inner Game of Tennis

The Ultimate Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

By W. Timothy Gallwey
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
The Inner Game of Tennis: The Ultimate Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey
Synopsis

The Inner Game of Tennis (1972) explains the tension between your conscious and unconscious minds, and how this conflict relates to performance, specifically through the lens of tennis. These blinks offer concrete advice on how to harness your natural ability and excel both on the court and off.

Key idea 1 of 7

To excel at their game, tennis players need to win an internal battle, and it’s a coach’s job to show them how.

Lots of people have seen world-class tennis stars battling it out on the court. But there’s another struggle facing tennis players that’s not so visible: they’re also playing an inner game within themselves.

This match is between the conscious mind of the player, what can be called Self 1, and her unconscious mind, or Self 2. Just consider the tremendous effort required of players to overcome self-doubt, calm down before a match and stay positive.

Beyond that, for many players, the conscious mind judges and instructs the unconscious. That’s why you may have seen tennis players talking to themselves on the court, exclaiming things like “you klutz!”

Such situations are a prime example of the interaction between the two selves, and the ways they interact in this inner game determine how successful a player will be in the outer game. This is essential information for tennis coaches, as it’s their job to help players balance both selves.

To do so, a coach will often tell players what to do and what to avoid. The problem here is that, in many cases, the more you consciously focus on what you’re told, the less successful you are. At times like these, Self 1 is attempting to control Self 2 – and the results are rarely desirable.

A good example is how Self 1 might say stuff like “stop being so nervous!” But think about it: Would such a command actually do much to calm your nerves?

Probably not, and that’s why coaches need to teach players how to let each self do its thing, without interference from the other. By mastering this technique, a player can excel at her sport, responding to every moment practically automatically as if having an “out-of-mind” experience.

But how can both selves interact in this way? And how can you, as a coach or player, help them do so? You’ll learn the answers to these questions and more in the next blinks.

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