The Inner Game of Tennis is a revolutionary program for overcoming the self-doubt, nervousness, and lapses of concentration that can keep a player from winning. This classic best-seller can change the way the game of tennis is played. Read more Read less.
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There were some good tidbits, but overall I walked away somewhat disappointed. Gallwey offers some good tips on how to maintain one's concentration and approach matches with the right mentality so as not to choke under pressure. However, much of the book is spent advocating for a teaching style whose effectiveness I find extremely questionable. For example, instead of learning how to hit a forehand by having a pro point out your mistakes and focus on correcting them, Gallwey suggests having your conscious self non-judgmentally observe what is happening and then letting your unconscious self correct the errors on its own.
This might work great if you are a talented athlete like Gallwey is, or if you are already accomplished at the game, but it was of no use to me since I'm still learning the sport and don't have good natural instincts for tennis, and if I could learn on my own then I wouldn't be engaging a coach in the first place. The other criticism I have with this book is the writing. Much of the book is spent repeatedly advertising this approach of having "self 1" let go of judgment and letting "self 2" "discover" the right technique on its own. It's pretty repetitive and makes a lot of the pages pretty redundant.
Gallwey also spends quite a lot of time writing about his personal anecdotes, many of which were of only tangential relevance to the point at hand. At many times it seemed like the book was more about him than about teaching us. I was recommended this book by a horse trainer, and it was an excellent recommendation.
Of course I had to skip lots of tennis advice, since I don't play the game, but the gist of the book is life changing. What I got out of this book, is that we have two brains that guide us through life--actually, the analytic, ego brain believes that it knows best, to the point of narcissism if you let it get out of control. Try making a mistake, and the ego is brutal in its corrections.
What does this have to do with this book? Well, the author shows us the workings of the two sides of our brain--the ego, and the intuitive side. While the ego may thing it's got everything under control and all will be well if only the intuition side listens and obeys. The trouble is, the ego side works out of fear, while the intuitive side simply taps into the 'all that is' internet of sorts, and simply watches and learns in whole chunks, while the ego likes to break everything down into steps.
As the author points out, we can only hold so many 'steps' in our head at one time, and trying to do the right thing makes us tense, and being tense never works with the body.
The intuitive side, if allowed to just flow, when not hampered by the ego shouting orders, can allow us to achieve our goal by focusing on the goal rather than breaking it into steps that tense a person up until they are tied in knots--unable to even swing a racket--golf club--or go with the horse.
Focus on the goal and have fun. I've played tennis for over 35 years, had lesson after lesson, went to tennis camps and clinics and still there was something missing in my game that I could not get in touch with, until The Inner Game of Tennis came along. Simply put, Timothy Gallwey writes that we should trust of bodies to do what they already know how to do, without all the judgement, self-coaching and self-criticism that so many players, myself included do. I used to puzzle over why my a certain stroke was so effortlessly effective one day and then just plain terrible in the next.
My body would feel a lack of confidence, for example, a kind of forehand or volley or serve anxiety. The problem was that I never fully truly trusted my body to do what it already knew how to do. And once I did, my game changed. I now play relaxed and confident, whether my opponent is better than me or not. And when errors occur, I notice them and let go, something I never used to do before. Many thanks to Mr. Gallwey for giving me my a new and most powerful tool for tennis and beyond!!
So often books about excelling, especially at sports like tennis and golf that operate on fine margins of error, offer tropes about the importance of concentrating and focus yet never offer the drills necessary to achieve them, or a overarching concept to a specific approach.
This book refreshingly didn't disappoint. Not only did it encourage a holistic and healthy approach to competition, it brought employable strategies for a player to examine and work with. I digested this book quickly multiple times, and have eagerly been employing its mentality.
Before I would fret and worry, letting the stress of the game overwhelm me, but now I look forward to playing without the fear and insecurity. See all reviews. Top reviews from other countries. I rated this book only 3 stars probably as a result of mismanaged expectations. I was under the impression it held the secret to unlocking one's inner Mozart, and perhaps it does, but I find it interesting merely as it appears to be a classic in its field.
It is ostensibly about tennis but its lessons can be applied elsewhere, of course. However, it is definitely a tennis book -- there was a long section on perfecting one's serve, if I recall correctly, that was not of much interest or use. In summary, it basically seems like a precursor to a lot of the mindfulness blather that passes for wisdom these days, only in this book the lessons seem unpretentious and sensible.
I didn't find they helped me at all with acting, however, the purpose for which I bought the book. Hopefully you'll have more luck than me. I was recommended this book by my coach Russell who has an exceptionally intuitive touch plus a surfer-dude-with-a racquet vibe which is not easy in London. He has taught tennis for decades and keeps Gallwey's book by his bedside and often re-reads it.
I can see why. There's not so much of the "hold the raquet with your knuckle on the first plane", "face this way", "move into the ball", "do this, do that" and more of a guidebook to how to translate SEEING the perfect motion to actually DOING it. I've had several instructors over the years and learned more from YouTube. Until now anyway. His angle is that we all need to learn how to analyse and really SEE what we are doing wrong and learn how to change for the better. How to relax and free-up your inner Roger Federer. He makes the perfect point that most students are so desperate to learn - and so hard on themselves - they can't get out of their own way.
Clenched muscles don't make for a relaxed player.