Develop a still mind
The Inner Game of Tennis approach is based on this simple idea – the key to peak performance lies in the mind of the player.
and enter the zone
This approach is extensively described in the Inner Game section, so here we present only practical applications of the three fundamentals:
To experience a quiet mind:
Pick a small object, throw it in the air and catch it. During the flight of this object your mind was empty. There were no thoughts. There may be some if you repeat the exercise since now you are aware of what is happening.
The goal of quieting the mind is to focus it on something and thus prevent thinking which disturbs the mind body connection.
To experience trusting the body:
If you stand on one leg and become aware of all the muscles in your leg, you'll notice that they work all the time to keep you in balance.The more aware you are, the more you'll feel how your muscles move – contract and expand.
And yet, this is not what you’re doing consciously.
You can consciously move your body if you want to and those movements are the result of Self1 commands. But when you compare these movements with those in your leg when you are holding balance, you'll see a big difference.
The movements in your leg are subconscious – made by the body or Self2.
To experience non-judgment:
The simplest experiment is to try and hit a small target (tennis ball) on the ground about 20 feet away from you. Throw tennis balls and try to hit the target.
Then ask yourself:
- Did you criticize yourself when you missed?
- Did you have any negative thoughts about yourself or your abilities?
Probably not. You were in the state of non-judgment.
This exercise helps you experience that you can perform tasks and be non-judgmental about yourself. That way you are totally focused on the task.
How to practiceEvery day after practice:
1. Where in today's practice or match did you experience that Self2 made corrections instead of you?
2. Do you remember having a still mind? Being totally focused on the task and having no thoughts run through your awareness?
3. Did you make any mistakes and didn't judge yourself? That means that you accepted them as a normal part of the game or yourself.
4. How did you play afterwards, when you accepted the errors? How do you play when you don't accept them? Will reality ever change?
After you have gone through these questions for one week you'll have much higher awareness of the inner game principles and you'll be ready to trust them. You'll know when Self1 will start talking to you and you'll know that you don't need to listen to it.
Your body – Self2 – is extremely capable if we give it a chance.