The Inner game of tennis was first introduced by Timothy Gallawey in 1974 through his published book entitled “The Inner Game of Tennis”. His second book (Inner Tennis-Playing the Game) was published in 1976 which became popular not only to tennis players but athletes in different sports.
In his books, the author explained expertly the important role of the human mind in the game of tennis. He explains that through proper mind conditioning, learning and playing tennis can be very easy. He also explains how the human mind can become the greatest hindrance in reaching a player’s highest potential in a tennis game.
The Mental Tennis Game
The most important aspect to consider is to realize the power of the mind to affect someone’s performance. Once a person comes to this point, he can be considered as a winner in the inner game of tennis. A winner in the inner game of tennis means that a person knows what aspects he needs to work on, and most importantly he has the idea on how to do it.
He also emphasizes that mistakes and errors comes first to the human mind before the physical body executes it. Thus, his goal is to free everybody’s mind and win the game. Some of the negative things that the mind should avoid are: fear or apprehension, no self-confidence, self-destruction, lack of focus or lack of concentration, putting too much effort, frustration, very high expectations, anger, boredom and many others.
Self 1 and Self 2
Unknowingly, humans don’t realize that their minds work in two ways. As you try to concentrate and listen to yourself; you’ll hear two voices constantly. The first voice commands and criticizes while the second voice is the silent doer. We call these two voices as Self 1 and Self 2 as the loud and the silent voices respectively.
These two voices normally don’t agree with each other. Self 1 commands Self 2 of the things to do. Self 1 has the knowledge of what tennis is all about. It is the one that knows when to bend your knees, when to extend your arm, when to hit the ball and so on. Self 2 on the other hand, is the one that does the job (your physical body).
Trust the physical capabilities of your body
To trust your body is the first principle of the inner game of tennis. Tennis is a complicated sport and the human body (Self 2) is amazingly designed to adapt and even in the absence of our mind’s interference. Without the interference of Self 1, Self 2 can faultlessly execute any tennis technique that is even hard to grasp by the human mind. That’s because what Self 2 can do without the meddling of Self 1 is far from normal expectations.
The first skill a tennis player should have to be able to play the inner game of tennis is for him to trust his body and let it perform. The tennis player should slowly but surely trust the inherent physical capacity of his body to acquire skills and perform them. This skill is not easy to attain but an early start can make a big difference.
Key to the Inner Game of Tennis: Silence your mind
To quiet your mind is the second principle in the inner game of tennis. Tennis is such a fast game that you have very little time to think during a point. However, you have to remember that the physical capacity of your body to execute to your highest potential depends on how calm your mind is. If your mind is chaotic, troubled or distracted it creates destructions to the physical movement of your body.
To be able to win the inner game of tennis, your mind should be focused. The mind’ role is to pay attention to the essential movements during a tennis match. If your mind starts to dictate your body other than the essential things, you performance will be badly affected.
The ideal situation in the inner game of tennis is when Self 1 is focused on the game and Self 2 is at its highest performance potential. This is the time that you have the capacity to control your mind and use it as a weapon when you need it.
One of the biggest hindrances for a human to learn new things is because of Self 1’s inhibitions. Once Self 1 says “No I can’t do it” it prevents us to see, feel and experience the events or things around us. Self 1 has the tendency to overshadow our awareness and it makes us see or feel fear and uncertainty.
The main objective of the inner game of tennis is to be aware of what is going on. The goal is to change things into a positive note, but remember the idea is not to change the inner game but be aware of it. Furthermore, once you know it exists, keep increasing your awareness about it as time goes by.
Don’t be judgmental
This third concept of the tennis inner game means you must control your judgment. You should not judge your actions as bad or good. That’s because, the more we analyze them, the harder they get. Like for instance, if you say that you hit the ball in a bad manner, that’s why you lose a point.
You should try your best to improve your shot. And when you say that your shot was good because you won a point, you try to maintain that good shot. This is the balance that you need to attain the tennis inner game. Balance means to let your mind or Self1 be silent but let your body or Self 2 find the solutions on how to obtain balance.
To control your mind and your emotions not to be negative in the end is the best way to improve your tennis. In addition, your capacity to go with the flow and allowing your physical body to do the job is one of the quickest ways to improvement.
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