The Inner Game of Tennis – Part 4

Trying things out for yourself and seeing what works is the best way to learn  –  in ‘language’ jargon it’s called acquisition as opposed to ‘learning’.

Young children have a natural aptitude for learning and can pick up even complex languages with ease. However, there is something that occurs with age that hinders this form of elementary education.

We begin to learn the difference between what we perceive as right and wrong and, as a result, develop a healthy fear of making mistakes.

However, there is not really a right or wrong answer to a question. Instead, everyone has to figure out for themselves which strategy will get them the best results.

For example, the author, Timothy Gallwey, observed that the current tennis greats all serve in their own particular style  –  right or wrong. However, their strategy seems to work. This illustrates that the secret to success does not lie in the advice of others.

Instead, success depends on each person working out for themselves what works best for them. If, for example, your tennis coach stressed the importance of a stiff wrist on the backhand  –  and you follow this advice to the letter, your wrist might cramp.

So instead of memorizing such rules, find the style of play that works best for you.

Ok! But how?

By not thinking too much about what you are doing.

This is an important first step because it’s consistent with the way children learn  –  they acquire skills quickly through observation and trial and error.

Trust your Self 2 without interference from your conscious mind to learn like a child who is neither afraid nor doubtful. Take dancing as another example.

There are detailed dance classes with specific instructions for each type of dance  –  however, this would cause your rational mind to take control  –  Self 1.

Or you could just go out and trust your sub-conscious mind to help you dance by going to a club, watching others dance and then trying it yourself.

The TV show ‘strictly come dancing’ has produced some remarkable dancers who have allowed their Self 2 to flourish. They have discovered much about themselves, particularly that they can dance much better than they ever thought possible.

Psychologists call this effective strategy implicit learning, and it’s crucial to realizing your full potential.  As in life, tennis is a constant battle between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind.

By focusing on improving the latter and bringing the two into harmony, you can reach your full potential, whether on the tennis court, the dance floor or the company office.

Just put your best professional foot forward the next time you want to step up your game  –  it’s more than just telling yourself you can perform like a top ATP player.

Rather it’s about consciously putting yourself in the role of an expert to learn new skills and develop a more positive attitude without overwhelming yourself.

The Author

Timothy Gallwey played professional tennis himself before he became a tennis coach, where he discovered the power of mental training.

The ”Inner Game” is now applied to a wide range of everyday challenges and situations by this best-selling author and business coach.

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