Recommended to me by Isaac Morehouse, this quick read was an engaging one.

While this book applies the “Inner Game” to tennis specifically, the principles can be easily applied to much more than tennis. The Inner Game is the psychological game we play with ourselves when we compete or perform. It involves 2 selves: Self 1 and Self 2.

Self 2 is you. Your actual potential. Your natural consciousness in the present moment. Self 2 is in charge when you feel like you are “in the zone”.

Self 1 is the ego and the criticizer. Self 1 is the one who is constantly coaching Self 2, and analyzing each and every moved based on the future and the past.

The premise of this book is that peak performance comes when we learn to quiet Self 1. In order to experience what’s happening in the present moment, we must disrupt the chatter that distracts us. Only then will we be able to naturally perform with our most relevant abilities.

Self 1 acts based on anything but the present moment situation. It will get frustrated by things like future expectations and nervousness, and then it will try to step in and take over, the act of which causes more distraction and hinders performance. In trying to help, Self 1 creates obstacles that make things worse than they were before.

Instead of constantly telling yourself to remember the correct footwork and form you learned in practice, Gallwey suggests that simply watching the ball and hitting it without thinking will result in better performance.

A key principle behind this claim is the fact that you’ve spent the time to practice and learn the form. Then, when it’s time to put your practice to the test, the best thing to do is to simply trust Self 2 and its abilities.

This book reminds me a lot of the psychological aspects of Flow and The Wisdom of Insecurity. I definitely recommend reading it.