Here are the notes and lessons that I took away from Timothy Gallwey's excellent book on player performance. Although the book primarily focuses on the sport of tennis, the 'inner game' is played inside the mind of all athletes regardless of the sport. The world's best soccer players I am sure practice these methods religiously.
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
- Every game is composed of an outer game and an inner game
- Outer game: played vs an external opponent to overcome external obstacles
- Ex.) how to kick a ball, how to position the body
- Inner Game: takes place in the mind of the player and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. It is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance.
Too much verbal instruction makes it impossible to retain all of it
- Images are better than words, showing better than telling, too much instruction worse than none, and that conscious trying often produces negative results
Peak performances don’t come when you are thinking about it, you are in mindlessness
- A concentrated mind is so focused that it is still. The mind becomes one with the body and is working without interference of thoughts
The key to do better in anything lies in improving the relationship between the conscious teller (self 1) and the unconscious, automatic doer (self 2)
- By thinking too much, trying too hard, and/or complaining to oneself (self 1) has produced muscle tension in the body
- We must program Self 2 with images not just words
- We must trust Self 2 to do what you ask of it
- Learn to see “nonjudgmentally”, meaning see what is happening, not solely noticing if it was well or badly performed
- Harmony exists between the two selves when the mind is quiet…here at peak of power
- Judgments are our personal, ego reactions to the sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts within our experience…To quiet the mind be nonjudgmental because the initial judgment starts the thinking process, which starts self doubt, which starts tense muscles
- Self-judgments become self-fulfilling prophecies…Self 2 is programmed by Self 1 to do poorly now
- Errors we make can be seen as simply parts of our entire, ongoing developing process
- Easier just to start new habits!
1. Observe, Nonjudmentally, Existing Behavior
2. Ask Yourself to Change, Programming with Image and Feel
3. Let it Happen!
4. Nonjudmental, Calm Observation of the Results (faith) until Behavior is Automatic and Seemingly Natural
-Don’t revert back to trying as hard as possible and also critiquing yourself
- Concentration means keeping the mind now and here. Keeping it calm and still.
- Concentration is not thinking hard about something; it is fascination of the mind, where there is love present
- The sound of the ball can be a great ‘programming tool’
- You must become extraordinarily sensitive to feel
- Remember it is almost impossible to feel or see anything well if you are thinking about how you should be moving. Forget should’s & just experience