The Inner Game Of Tennis Summary

BookSummaryClub Blog The Inner Game Of Tennis Summary

In The Inner Game of Tennis, W. Timothy Gallwey shows that almost everybody has the natural ability to get better at anything they stick at.

The book uses tennis as the main example and demonstrates that people naturally learn new abilities.

However, this learning can be hindered by self-criticism, or begin to credit sheer willpower for their ability to improve.

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
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The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
  • Audible Audiobook
  • W. Timothy Gallwey (Author) – Dan Woren (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/08/2008 (Publication Date) – Random House Audio (Publisher)

The three main takeaways from The Inner Game Of Tennis are

  1. Trying too hard to correct a bad habit can make it worse
  2. You can create self-fulfilling prophecies by harshly judging yourself
  3. Imagine correctly performing a task before attempting it

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Lesson One: Trying too hard to correct a bad habit can make it worse

If a tennis player struggles with their backhand, they may try and get better by self-instructing to stop using the wrong form.

If the problem with the backhand is that they’re too tense, they’ll tell himself to relax.

However, we all know how this story goes.

The harder they try to obey the instructions, the more their muscles will tighten.

Your second self cannot relax when the first self is trying to seize control.

To overcome a bad habit, a tennis player must quiet the first self and allow the second self to find solutions to the bad habit.

The same goes for anyone.

The paradox of reinforcing bad habits when trying to fix them is so well known that psychologists have nicknamed it “the ironic effect.”

A reason this happens is that your focus becomes the action or behavior you’re trying to avoid.

Instead, shut up and let yourself figure it out.

Lesson Two: You can create self-fulfilling prophecies by harshly judging yourself

If your first self is a little too active, you’ll probably start making over-dramatic and negative predictions after the smallest mistakes.

For example, failure to hit the ball on the center of the racket can be seen as proof that you’re uncoordinated, hopeless and unable to improve.

Which, we know is not true.

However, when you repeat the same criticism over and over again, your second self will start to take those complaints as instructions.

You’ll begin to adopt the behaviors related to the failure you’re trying to avoid.

You need to take a neutral view of your performance and behaviors. You can create a self-fulfilling prophecy by constantly telling yourself negatives.

Basically, get out of your own head.

Lesson Three: Imagine correctly performing a task before attempting it

In the same way we can self-talk our way to negative performances, we can do the same to create a positive performance.

As was mentioned in the last lesson, your second self loves to follow instructions.

This is especially the case when commands are given in the form of mental images.

You might have some difficulty following verbal instructions, but if you visualize the process, your body and second self will often correctly perform the actions needed.

Nore, I said the process, not the result. It is easy to imagine our success. However, that doesn’t get you anywhere. You get results when you start to imagine the process that leads to those outcomes.

When you’re attempting to fix a bad habit, imagine what you want to do, and the steps necessary to achieve that.

Setting a clear goal will help your body achieve it.

Record-setting athletes use intense visualization as an effective strategy to prepare for competition.

My Personal Opinion

It’s crazy how we let ourselves get in the way of things, isn’t it?

I know I have been guilty of negative self-talk and self-doubt.

Throughout The Inner Game Of Tennis, there’s plenty of great messages that you can take in any situation.

The powers discussed, even in this book summary, is enough to achieve some pretty special results if you let it.

Imagine what you could do if you just shut up and let yourself be successful.

I particularly love the lesson about imagining the process, not the result.

We often find ourselves imagining the successful outcome. However, the outcome is a result of our actions and a result of the process.

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Book summaries are great, but I also really believe that you will not fully understand the book or the author without trying the real thing. Learn more about this subject by listening to the full book for free via Audible.

Hey, I’m Erik… a Swedish university student, marketing professional, and life-long learner. Here at BookSummaryClub I summarize my favorite non-fiction books into easily digested posts. Hope you like what you’re reading!

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