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The Inner Game of Tennis

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,884 ratings  ·  191 reviews
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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Hardcover, 141 pages
Published January 1st 1974 by Random House
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Jake Taylor
This was one of those books that I will never regret reading. The Inner Game of Tennis is well written, engaging, and probably the most practical and applicable book to my own life that I have ever read. I don't even play tennis and this book has helped my mental and physical approach to and performance in sports, namely basketball. I have always hindered my own performance by doing all the wrong things: trying too hard, criticizing myself, always trying to correct things but never actually perf ...more
This is one the most important books I've ever read (well, heard). Gallwey manages to teach us how both how to learn and how to teach in one book, and does so lucidly. The Self 1-2 abstraction is powerful and intuitive.

Not surprising but it seems this is the book that inspired the executive/business/personal coaching phenomenon in the 70s - but of all the self-development books I've read, this one tops them all!

It always amazes me when things I have learnt from diverse sources, even diverse g
I don't play tennis. But now I don't have to because I have locked down the inner game.

This book isn't really about tennis, it's about wu wei. Flow. The zone. Being "unconscious." It's about silencing the inner critic, detached observation, and naturalism. I read it from the perspective of a musician, although I am not much of one anymore, and felt like there was some great wisdom there.
Urban Sedlar
By reading the title you'd think it's about tennis, but it only touches it. It talks more about the inner game of *everything*. First, it breaks down the Self into Self 1, which is basically your thinking brain (always analyzing and judging), and Self 2, which is your "feeling and doing" brain. The book gives ample evidence (that's also quite easy to relate to) that Self 2 can master almost everything in a short amount of time, while being "in the flow", if only Self 1 doesn't interfere. Thus, t ...more
Preface: I am not a tennis player. However, I am an ultimate Frisbee player/athlete and a lot of what Timothy talked about (perfecting your "Inner Game" via mental acuity & awareness) can be readily applied to any non-contact/competitive sport- especially ultimate Frisbee which is very much a thinking/mental game after you've mastered the basic skills. My friend, and some would say "coach," gave this to me to read- believing that it would help me get over a few things that I have been strugg ...more
This book isn't just about tennis, it's about learning to do anything more naturally. Our brains/ego -- "self 1" -- are not as smart as we think they are. There is no way that our brains can think through all of the small movements our body needs to do to hit a fast-coming ball with a tennis racket, or control our vocal chords to sing a song, or play a fast-paced jig on a fiddle. To do these sorts of things, we need to stop thinking and let our unconscious self - "self 2" - take over, trusting s ...more
I finally gave up on this book after getting about 2/3 of the way through. Gallwey gets the heart of the issue pretty quickly and that's pretty much it to this book. Basically, the philosophy is yoga for tennis: be aware of what is happening in the present moment and you will stumble upon incredible insights. Also, quiet the critical mind (what Gallwey calls Self 1) and let your deeper, more instinctual impulses guide you (Self 2). In other words, trust yourself and turn off the unhelpful self-c ...more
I am a musician, and this was recommended to me by another musician friend. As it turns out, many of my colleagues have read this book, so it seems as though I am the last! 'The Inner Game' has, without a doubt, been one of the most beneficial books I have ever read. Before I had even finished, some of the insights of the book had already begun to change the way that I practice, audition, and perform! I wont say that the author has come up with any ideas or concepts so revolutionary that they ha ...more
Gwen Skrzat
This book is a classic -- if you play tennis it's a must read. The author is a renowned sports and life coach who became famous with this book, in a large part because Harry Reasoner thought the principles in it couldn't possible work and challenged to author to prove them. He did, and it changed the reporters mind, and the way many of us look at how we play sports and also how we live.

It's primary thrust is to help the reader learn to apply some basic principle of non-judgment and focus to thei


Images are better than words, showing better than telling, too much instruction worse than none, and… trying often produces negative results.

The “hot streak” usually continues until he starts thinking about it and tries to maintain it; as soon as he attempts to exercise control, he loses it.

The first skill to learn is the art of letting go the human inclination to judge ourselves and our performance as either good or bad.

Judgmental labels usually lead to emotional reactions and then to ti
Edgar Mora-Reyes
En el presente siglo hemos dedicado gran tiempo y recursos a experimentar y explorar nuevos conceptos solo para darnos cuenta que lo nuevo es lo viejo pero con otro nombre.
El autor utiliza simple sentido común y conceptos ya explorados y definidos por la pedagogía y la filosofía, en particular por la epistemología, pero comete el gran error, el autor, de creerse "creador" de una nueva teoría que utiliza definiciones de la psicología positiva, aportando sinceramente poco a la realidad de la perso
I received this book as a gift a couple of years ago. I haven't played tennis in many years, but I was intrigued by the premise stated in the introduction.

Mr Gallwey asserts that each tennis player not only is playing the external game of tennis, but an inner game where the ego is fighting against the natural player inside. He terms these two opponents as Self 1 and Self 2. Self 1 wants to be in control and suffers from competitive pride. Self 2 is the natural learner, the body that can instinc
Jun 27, 2008 Ryan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ryan by: Phil
Definitely a worthwhile read for the athlete and non-athlete alike (but especially for the athlete). Some amazing insights given that this book preceded all of the empirical work within the field of psychology concerning the dual role of the conscious vs. unconscious mind in shaping behavior. The most difficult part is figuring out how to institute some of the suggestions in specific situations (especially in other sports). Most of the examples are of course heavily dependent on the tennis mediu ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2007 Becca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in a field that involves consistent practice and mental games.
As a classical musican, the lessons that Gallwey has taught me have been invaluable. Although he focuses on the applications of the inner game as it applies to tennis, the metaphor can easily be switched to any number of things. I know there is a book entitled The Inner Game of Music, which is much more specific to my field, but Gallwey's book says much more with fewer words.

The state of "relaxed concentration" is the one most desired for any stressful situation in which you have to performed a
"In a society that has become so oriented toward language as a way of representing truth, it is very possible to lose touch with your ability to feel and with it your ability to “remember” the shots themselves." - From the Inner Game of Tennis

Insanely readable. A philosophical treatise breezy with practical applications for the nutty tennis player (cough cough, I'm looking in the mirror) who torments himself on the court with lashings like, "You're embarrassing yourself!" or seemingly practical
Jane McGaughey
I'm not a great one for reading non-fiction that doesn't have to do with work: I have countless histories and gender theory texts, but not so many in the sport psychology range. This book might change that (a bit).

This is easily the best book I've read about tennis, even if some of its discussions are a bit dated -- it was written in 1974 when Bjorn Borg was just about to become the hot new thing. The thought of metal racquets or the Williams sisters were decades away.

That said, almost every pag
Paul Darcy
by Timothy Gallwey, published in 1974.

As the title of this book suggests it deals with, mainly but not entirely, with the game of tennis and what goes on inside your mind during the tennis game as opposed to the physical aspects of hitting the ball.

That is not to say that Timothy Gallwey does not give practical advice on stroke production - one chapter deals specifically with that - but rather he outlines a philosophy taken from the yogi about how to deal with mind and body during the tennis gam
Ben  Campopiano
The Inner Game... This is the game that takes place in the mind of the player, and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation. In short, it is played to overcome all habits of mind which inhibit excellence in performance. location 78

he learns that the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard. location 85

“Whatever’s going on in her head, it’s too damn much! She’s trying so hard to swing the racket the way I told her
What a great book. As I was reading some of the reviews here on GoodReads, somebody mentioned something like "you should move this one up on your priority to-read list," so I did.
As a used-to-be avid tennis player who was constantly frustrated with a relatively weak forehand and somewhat inconsistent serve, this book hit my problems on the head. Furthermore, I suspect it'll help every tennis player diagnose and cure their "problems".
In fact, the best part of this book is not its advice on tennis
Terrence Chan
I have never played a single game of tennis in my life. And yet this is one of the more useful books I've ever read. It is a hard book to summarize, but it tries to teach you about the art of "trying without trying". It explains the importance of focus and staying in the moment. It does not teach you about the "how" of peak performance but rather explains the "why" of why a player in a game does not perform up to expectations or desires.
Alex Johansson
I was recommended this book by a former roommate who I highly value (amazing individual, Harvard student, current intern @ Bain Capital).

Timothy Gallwey does a great job explaining the ambiguous and rarely touched space of cognitive development. For a sector of my personal and athletic life that I have divulged very little with, he makes clear incentives for why his tactics should be implemented outside of purely improving your tennis game (or any sport you choose).

Moreover, he lays out explicit
Great ideas for mental focus and the way we approach coaching anything that involves technical ability. Instead of trying to fix something ("hit higher") you just visualize and feel what your end result is and supposedly your body will adjust to attain it. I wouldn't take this book as gospel, but it's true that observation is the first step to fix any problem.

Usually I do not read these kinds of books, but since I play tennis my dad thought that it would help me out. Not only is tennis a physical game, but it's mental too. This book really takes apart the mental side of the game, and how to improve and get better. You don't have to just play tennis, although it helps a lot if you do, to read this book. This book made me think and consider all of the points made. It is definitly not a read-in-one-day book. It takes awhile to digest everything. It also
Jul 22, 2007 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: performers of any kink
While my tennis skills have long ago waned, I am a classical guitarist who, like many performers, experiences some significant performance anxiety. After reading this book, my playing in general and my on-stage performance in particular has improved immensely. I'm playing better and having a lot more fun doing it. Gallway offers both an honest, probing analysis of the mental games we play with ourselves on stage and a clear vision of the kind of mindset we could learn to have. It's difficult to ...more
Ben Ingram
Gallwey explains the essence of sport psychology and how you can help your athletes reach their potential. It's written in a very easy to read manner with some good examples that really illustrate his points. I used some of the strategies not long after finishing the book and I was amazed at the results.
Mario Tomic
Honestly this is one of the best book I've ever read, it really spoke to me on so many different levels. If you've played any sports or games you know what it feels like to be In The Zone, everything is flowing and you play the best you've ever played. This state is familiar to most of us but what is preventing us from being in the zone every game? Well, this book addresses that exact issue and I found it extremely valuable to help me reach a new level for my gym workouts. One other thing I real ...more
Don't be fooled, this book is not about tennis.

Backup by science, this book tells fascinating stories about humans that excel in their field, and how that came to be. Almost a book you want to read to your kid before he goes to sleep, but thats just because you wish you knew this a few decennia ago.
Tyson Strauser
Learning to quiet the ego self is essential to sustaining peak performance. Blocking out the insecurities of the thinking mind allows the feeling mind to do what it has always known how to do. Focus on flow and observation of your body will lead to more seamless performance.
Eddy Allen

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.

by W. Timothy Gallwey

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W. Timothy Gallwey (born 1938 in San Francisco, California) is an author who has written a series of books in which he has set forth a new methodology for coaching and for the development of personal and professional excellence in a variety of fields, that he calls "The Inner Game." Since he began writing in the 1970s, his books include The Inner Game of Tennis, The Inner Game of Golf, The Inner g ...more
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