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Psychology
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Premise

“Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game, and an inner game. . . . It is the thesis of this book that neither mastery nor satisfaction can be found in the playing of any game without giving some attention to the relatively neglected skills of the inner game. This is the game that 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. In short, it is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance. . . . Victories in the inner game may provide no additions to the trophy case, but they bring valuable rewards which are more permanent and which can contribute significantly to one’s success, off the court as well as on.”

Key points

Self 1 and Self 2

“The key to better tennis—or better anything—lies in improving the relationship between the conscious teller, Self 1, and the natural capabilities of Self 2.”

Self 1 tries to instruct Self 2 using words. But Self 2 responds best to images and internalizing the physical experience of carrying out the desired action.

“In short, if we let ourselves lose touch with our ability to feel our actions, by relying too heavily on instructions, we can seriously compromise our access to our natural learning processes and our potential to perform.”

Stop trying so hard

Positive thinking backfires

“But to see things as they are, we must take off our judgmental glasses, whether they’re dark or rose-tinted. This action unlocks a process of natural development, which is as surprising as it is beautiful...The first step is to see your strokes as they are. They must be perceived clearly. This can be done only when personal judgment is absent. As soon as a stroke is seen clearly and accepted as it is, a natural and speedy process of change begins.”

Practical

  1. Observe existing behaviour without attaching any judgement to it. We must see what is is, not what we think it should be.
  2. Picture the desired outcome
  3. Trust Self 2 and “let it happen!”
  4. Continue non-judgemental, calm observation of the results in order to repeat the cycle and keep learning.

Resources