Trust yourself to perform well or as Timothy Gallwey writes in the The Inner Game of Tennis trust “Self 2.” I have been revisiting the book this month.
I put up notes on the first third of the book the other day, and here are the next set of notes.
Who is Self 2? — an amazing coordinated being. Think about all the things you coordinate without thought–reading, walking, any skill you execute–and that’s Self 2. Gallwey advocates for us to show more respect for this part of ourselves:
Self 2–that is, the physical body, including the brain, memory bank (conscious and unconscious) and the nervous system–is tremendously sophisticated and competent collection of potentialities. Inherent within is an inner intelligence which is staggering….
The foregoing has only one purpose: to encourage the reader to respect Self 2. This amazing instrument is what we have the effrontery to call ‘uncoordinate.”
Take a moment to think about that. He is referring to the self talk that emanates from Self 1 without respect for the fantastic daily achievements of Self 2.
Trusting and respecting Self 2 is a key requirement for confidence. Otherwise we try too hard or get bogged down in self talk/self instruction. Trust yourself and let your play just happen.
Detach from execution of a skill. Don’t tighten up, don’t try too hard, just let your game happen. If you don’t know what you are doing, then this translates into letting your body learn. If you do know, then this translates into letting it just happen. You have stored knowledge, which deepens with each application of the skill.
Bring attention and alertness, but not self instruction with each stroke and step. He makes an apt comparison to dance lessons. Think about the difference between watching somebody dance and then doing it yourself, versus being told each step and movement. Let it happen.
Learn to look up to Self 2 (not down) and your self talk will change.
- Asking for Results–“attention on ends not means”– this seems like the opposite of what we are always taught. That is, you hear that you should focus on process not outcomes. What Gallwey is saying is to externalize focus. Where do you want the ball to go? Focus on that and not on how you are hitting it. Ask Self 2 to hit it where you want it. Your form will adjust to accommodate the clear visual of the desired result. “Let it happen.”
- Asking for Form–Give Self 2 the same clear image of how you want form to change. Create the picture and focus on it. Then use imagery of same picture. Then practice without a ball, just the movement. Let it happen. Self 1 stays detached and observant.
- Asking for Qualities–Role play your best-self achieving. Act as though you know where it’s going, be confident in yourself, be a pro. “You are quite consciously playing a role, but in the process, you may become aware of the range of your true capabilities.” Another technique is to act like a player with a different style then your own to expand your sense of self.
Letting go of judgments, the art of creating images and “letting it happen” are three of the basic skills involved in the Inner Game.
Chapter 5: Discovering Technique
Key to this philosophy is an understanding of “natural learning process” which reduces opportunity for interference.
An interesting point–where did the original technical instruction come from and why is it the authority? He makes the point that the language and instruction became detached from our innate skill. The further the separation between the words and instruction and our memory of actually doing the worse it gets. Then we start to pass judgment on ourselves only exacerbating the cycle.
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.
Use instruction to guide athletes to their own natural process and toward the goal. Again in the context of the last chapter of where ball lands or outcomes. Focus on how it feels to the individual. Use awareness to discover technique. Brilliant!
How to watch the pros: Don’t judge yourself for the differences in technique. Just note them, keep observing, keep feeling your own technique and see your results. In the Inner Game approach the learning will happen between these two–observing others,memory and the awareness of your own movements. Don’t try too hard.
Part 3 Next week.