The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
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Master your game from the inside out!
With more than 800,000 copies sold since it was first published thirty years ago, this phenomenally successful guide has become a touchstone for hundreds of thousands of people. Not just for tennis players, or even just for athletes in general, this handbook works for anybody who wants to improve his or her performance in any activity, from playing music to getting ahead at work. W. Timothy Gallwey, a leading innovator in sports psychology, reveals how to
• focus your mind to overcome nervousness, self-doubt, and distractions
• find the state of “relaxed concentration” that allows you to play at your best
• build skills by smart practice, then put it all together in match play
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, Gallwey’s engaging voice, clear examples, and illuminating anecdotes will give you the tools you need to succeed.
“Introduced to The Inner Game of Tennis as a graduate student years ago, I recognized the obvious benefits of [W. Timothy] Gallwey’s teachings. . . . Whether we are preparing for an inter-squad scrimmage or the National Championship Game, these principles lie at the foundation of our program.”—from the Foreword by Pete Carroll
A phenomenon when first published in 1972, the Inner Game was a real revelation. Instead of serving up technique, it concentrated on the fact that, as Gallwey wrote, “Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game.” The former is played against opponents, and is filled with lots of contradictory advice; the latter is played not against, but within the mind of the player, and its principal obstacles are self-doubt and anxiety. Gallwey’s revolutionary thinking, built on a foundation of Zen thinking and humanistic psychology, was really a primer on how to get out of your own way to let your best game emerge. It was sports psychology before the two words were pressed against each other and codified into an accepted discipline.
The new edition of this remarkable work–Billie Jean King called the original her tennis bible–refines Gallwey’s theories on concentration, gamesmanship, breaking bad habits, learning to trust yourself on the court, and awareness. “No matter what a person’s complaint when he has a lesson with me, I have found the most beneficial first step,” he stressed, “is to encourage him to see and feel what he is doing–that is, to increase his awareness of what actually is.”
There are aspects of psychobabble and mysticism to be found here, sure, but Gallwey instructs as much by anecdote as anything else, and time has ultimately proved him a guru. What seemed radical in the early ’70s is now accepted ammunition for the canon; the right mental approach is every bit as important as a good backhand. The Inner Game of Tennis still does much to keep that idea in play. –Jeff Silverman