The ‘Inner Game of Tennis’ is a book and thesis by W. Timothy Gallwey first published in 1974.
It explores the relationship between the subconscious mind, which is intuitive, and the conscious mind which requires thoughtful direction but is not intuitive.
The key to excellence is to quiet the chatter of your conscious mind and let go of any preconceived ideas. Try putting yourself in a crucial match at a major tournament. Despite your best efforts, your opponent always gets the upper hand.
So how do you deal with this?
If you are anything like the average tennis player, you’ll tell yourself that you need to focus on your form by, for example, tightening your racket grip.
However, to no avail!
It’s impossible to perform at your best if you cannot quiet your racing thoughts and suppress your judgment.
Any experienced tournament player will tell you that you can only reach your full potential if you let go of your conscious mind (self 1) and let your body or subconscious mind (self 2) take control.
If you want to bypass your thinking brain, just let your intuitive self take over. You’ll rely solely on your instinct, which will make you much more successful.
Your subconscious is characterized by timing and dexterity, this is also completely logical. However, you’ll have to calm your consciousness before you can exploit this potential. As complicated as this process may be, the first step is to suspend all judgement.
Instead of limiting your conscious mind, judgement satisfies it!
More importantly, a negative judgement about yourself, such as that you are clumsy, can have serious and far-reaching consequences. For example, it could make you feel uncomfortable and awkward playing basketball.
A more effective tactic is to imagine that you are watching a game that you can rewind and replay over and over again. This allows your subconscious (self 2) to experiment with different swings while you focus on the ball and the racket.
Your subconscious mind can make progress with this method without being guided by your conscious self (self 1). However, you will not be able to give your subconscious mind free rein by simply suppressing the judgements of your conscious mind!
The next step, Part 2, is to discover methods to strengthen your subconscious mind.