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The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance Paperback

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The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance + Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis--Lessons from a Master + The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Rev Sub edition (May 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679778314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679778318
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 3.2 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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

From the Inside Flap

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. Now available in a revised paperback edition, this classic bestseller can change the way the game of tennis is played.

More About the Author

W. Timothy Gallwey has produced a series of bestselling Inner Game books, which set forth a new methodology for the development of personal and professional excellence in a variety of fields. For the last twenty years Gallwey has been introducing the Inner Game approach to corporations looking for better ways to manage change. He lives in Malibu, California.

Customer Reviews

This DEFINITELY improved my tennis game!!
I am both a musician and court reporting student, and I found this book to give me invaluable skills that can be applied to anything in life.
C. S. Bradshaw
This book is very well written and easy to read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

192 of 197 people found the following review helpful By momRN on January 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
As most people can guess by the title, the "inner game" of tennis is the game that takes place iin the mind of the player and is played against barriers such as nervousness, self-doubt, etc.

To gain clarity on the mental problems in tennis, the book looks at the concepts of "Self 1" and "Self 2". Self 1 is the name that is given to the conscious ego-mind which likes the tell Self 2, you and your potential, how to hit the ball and play the game. Or, to put it another way, Self 1 is the "teller" and Self 2 the "doer". I found this to be an interesting idea, as we have all caught ourselves talking to ourselves or have seen others talking to themselves during a game. If you ask someone who they are talking to, they will usually say "I'm talking to myself." This, of course, implies that there are 2 "selves", "I" and "myself"- and so is born the idea of Self 1 and Self 2. Pretty astutue observation in my opinion.

Now according to the book, to achieve peak performance, the key is to resolve any lack of harmony between the two selves, as it is the contrary thinking of Self 1 which causes interference with the natural abilities of Self 2. This requires the learning of several inner skills, such as the art of letting go of self-judgements, letting Self 2 do the hitting, recognizing and trusting the natural learning process, and so on- which is what much of the books spends discussing.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who plays tennis (or any other sport for that matter) as it does a great job in dealing with the fact that many of our difficulties in tennis are indeed mental in origin. Other helpful books for tennis players I've come across include Treat Your Own Tennis Elbow.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
I remember clearly the first time I read this book. It was the summer before 9th grade, almost two decades ago. I'd been playing tennis for about a year. My trusty wooden racquet in tow, I had taken lessons, read every how-to book and tried to follow all the step-by-step pictures. Also, I was getting soundly beaten by friends who'd be playing longer than myself.
I found the book in the library and was surprised at how thin it was. Then I noticed there were no pictures. I thought "What kind of tennis book has no pictures? " I started to read there next to the shelves and my life has never been the same. I wound up captain of my highschool tennis team, all-state selection, and along the way crushed the bums who used to beat me.
Now I'm almost 30 and a tennis has-been but still play a pretty good game. And whenever I go on the court (be it tennis, basketball, squash) I apply the same principles. I stop trying, stop forcing. Quiet the mind and let it happen.
As others reviewers have written in this space, this book will transform your game. It will also broaden your appreciation for what the human body can do. It will enrich your life. This is a classic and indispensible work.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Dave on April 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book cuts right through to what all tennis players inherantly know, your success on the court is directly related to what is going on in your mind. You realize that your body knows how to play, and needs no gratification or instructions by your inner critic. The less you interfere, the better your body will perform. When your mind is quiet and trusts your body's abilities is when it is has the freedom to perform.
My game improved dramatically since my first match after I read the book, one technique is to occupy your mind into silence by focusing it on something. The thing I focused on was the spin of the ball as it came to me. When I began to concentrate on that, my mind was silent and focused on the ball. When I do this, the ball seems slower and bigger. All of my strokes improved by doing this. Another thing I got out of this book is to let go of all of your lessons and ideas of how to move your feet, how to hit the ball, how to angle your raquet head. A match is no time to ponder these things it is a time to do them. When in a match, just let your body do what it knows how to do. Don't focus on details, just focus on the goal of making a good tennis shot.
All of this is wonderful, but the best thing this book has to offer, is giving the reader the understanding of how to learn in a natural way without your inner voice giving approval or disaproval. And that is a skill that will apply to all things in your life.
I can't wait to read the Inner Game of Work.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Gallwey's book was an instant classic when it first came out. It was somewhat revolutionary at the time as few sport psychology books were available for the tennis public. It still makes good bathroom reading and it still applies to a general lifestyle, not just about tennis. However, there are currently more practical mental toughness or mental zone books out there which are easier to read and use. Still Gallwey's book is interesting philosophy more than psychology as he works with your automatic and analytic selves (self 1 and 2) which conflict each other.
Gallwey addresses why negativity and self-analysis inhibits the creative, automatic self. Readers become more aware of how being in the "zone" really works. Recently, there have been advances in sport psychology which pushes some of Gallwey's ideas a bit out there although he is still on the right path. I would recommend "Zennis" (Peter Spang) over the "Inner Game" since it is more practical.
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