The Inner Game of Tennis – Part 2

Relax and let your subconscious (Self 2) take over.

Anyone who has been in charge of a group of people knows that micromanagement is the surest way to lose creditability and respect.

A more effective way is to be upfront about your expectations, belief in your team’s ability, help them succeed, and then back off. In the year 2022 football World Cup Gareth Southgate, the England Manager, demonstrated this approach very ably. He backed off and left the England captain, Harry Kane, to give the pre-match address to the team.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 13: Gareth Southgate, Manager of England, looks on prior to the international friendly match between England and Australia at Wembley Stadium on October 13, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Understanding Self 2 Competence

As Timothy Gallwey discusses in his classic “Inner Game of Tennis”, trying to micromanage your intuitive self, or Self 2, backfires just as with another person. Your body works well without conscious control, meaning you do not have to monitor its every movement.

Trust in Your Body’s Abilities

Even as your mind reads, your body keeps you upright, breathes, digests food – handling simple to complex tasks like biking, singing, playing tennis. Self 2 can perform independently and better without interference.

Allowing Natural Flow

The trick is treating Self 2 with care and trust, letting events take their natural course instead of forcing them. As Gallwey notes in the Inner game of tennis, not only is it counterproductive for your thinking self to lecture intuitive self, but unnecessary.

Dangers of Over-Control

In fact, your intense desire for something can work against you by leading to over-control. For example, consciously tensing muscles when serving may cramp them, making them too stiff to swing freely and effectively.

Directing Attention Systematically

As Gallwey lays out in Part 3 of this article, while suppressing judgement alone won’t fully free your subconscious, specific methods can strengthen intuitive mastery through directing your attention to where it is needed now.

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