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View Full Version : "The Inner Game of Tennis" is my cure!


Jay27
05-12-2009, 12:51 PM
I'm so impressed with the book, "The Inner Game of Tennis" by Tim Galwey (sp.). For sometime now I've been so consumed with trying so hard to win that I've simply stressed myself out so much that I couldn't win to save my life. Well, I made a post here (maybe not in this exact forum) that asked if a lot of tennis players experience this horrible slumpy feeling. It's the feeling of being defeated before the match even starts. It's also the feeling of just sheer stress because you want to do good for your team, but you just can't...no matter how hard you try.

It's not that my strokes are bad...in fact, they're pretty good. I hit the ball well, got a good serve, and am in relatively good shape. But, I fell into a world of bad tennis. I would talk to myself constantly in matches...always throwing caution right before I'd hit a ball...(for example...I'd think to myself..."watch this ball...watch...make sure your non-dominant arm is in the correct position...don't grip the racket too tight...where's your feet...now hit it...'doh...another shot in the bottom of the net!!!...you're such an idiot...how could you blow that sitter...I hate tennis". That was my mindset!

Well, I have news for those of you that may be in my situation. There is a cure! It's called, "The Inner Game of Tennis." This book has taught me so much! The quieting of the mind is vital and so important...and it has changed my game (and my life!). I just read this book and have determined this book was written for me.

Before, I would curse at myself for hitting a ball out, but now...I simply acknowledge that I hit it out and then free my mind immediately by focusing on something like bouncing the ball with the racket as I go back up to the service line. Or, if I'm in a rally, I watch the rotation of the ball (and actually try to make out the pattern the lines of the ball are making)...and then just let my physical ability hit the ball the way it knows how to hit the ball. No interference with my mind, no instructions, no hatred, nothing. I don't compliment myself, and I certainly don't hate myself for missing. I simply acknowledge both the positive and negative and immediately free myself from thinking about it. For the first time, I feel loose on the court. I'm not nervous when I start playing and I'm not thinking about losing. In fact, I'm not thinking at all. I'm simply hitting the ball with a relaxed, non-thinking mind. And, the result is:

I won a match the other night against a guy who played D1 #6 singles 6-3, 7-5. He had an incredible serve (has won a fast serve contest with it before) and good ground strokes. I approached the match as a new person (mind you, I've played a few matches before this particular match with the new tennis attitude (or non-attitude if you will). But, this particular match was a big win for me. A win that was badly needed. It was such a fun match. He hit big hard serves, and I simply swang the racket at them in a non-judgemental way that was smooth and non-forced. They were going in. I felt a little weird out there. My movement was great, but I wasn't thinking about it. My strokes felt so comfortable. My serves were excellent. I just felt outside myself. When I'd win a point...I simply put it under my belt and went on for the next point. Never succumbing to my instruction-giving mind (except for one instant when he broke me when I was serving for the match). This guy (kid...now 22) had the full package (he's a bit of an overhitter), but I never thought about losing. Heck, I never really thought about anything except when I was up 5-2 in the second set and had match point on his serve. My mind crept in and I tightened up and dumped one in the net which allowed him to eventually hold serve. Then, in the next game, I tightened up on my serve and was broken. Then, I calmed my mind and began playing as I was before.

I'm now excited about playing. I want to play tennis now more than I've ever wanted to play. I just wanted everyone to know that I've read the book. It's exactly what I needed and it's beginning to show. Thanks to all who recommended this to me!!!

SuperJimmy
05-12-2009, 12:59 PM
Was this the first book you read on tennis or have you read others as well? I was thinking of picking up a book but wasn't sure which one...was considering Brad Gilbert's 'Winning Ugly' but maybe I should consider this one as well.

Jay27
05-12-2009, 01:22 PM
This was my first book (other than Nick Bolleteri's instructional book). But, it was by far the most highly recommended book for tennis players that have issues on the court.

It received 4.5 stars on Amazon and the reviews are all excellent. Each written response claims that it has helped tremendously with their games.

Let me tell ya'...the book will speak to you. It will lay it on the line and it doesn't sugar coat it. Your strokes are what they are. This doesn't mean you can't improve them, but what it does mean is that if your mind is telling your physical ability what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, then how can you allow yourself to simply play without thinking (the "zone" as some call it)?

This book is the cure for me! It's helped me to relax and to not try too hard.

Have you ever returned a serve that was out. You notice that it's out and you swing anyway, but when you swing it's a relaxed and almost effortless swing and you hit it perfectly. Well, this book is about training your mind for that feeling, all the time, every time, on the court. And, it is working great for me!

hotseat
05-12-2009, 01:44 PM
Was this the first book you read on tennis or have you read others as well? I was thinking of picking up a book but wasn't sure which one...was considering Brad Gilbert's 'Winning Ugly' but maybe I should consider this one as well.

i've read "inner game of tennis", "mental tennis", and "winning ugly". there are parts of all that i really liked, and parts of all that i really disliked. if i had to pick one, i'd say "inner game of tennis" is probably the best. "winning ugly" had some really good pieces of advice, but also a bunch of worthless page fillers that just harp on Gilbert's career.

herrburgess
05-12-2009, 04:08 PM
I'm so impressed with the book, "The Inner Game of Tennis" by Tim Galwey (sp.). For sometime now I've been so consumed with trying so hard to win that I've simply stressed myself out so much that I couldn't win to save my life. Well, I made a post here (maybe not in this exact forum) that asked if a lot of tennis players experience this horrible slumpy feeling. It's the feeling of being defeated before the match even starts. It's also the feeling of just sheer stress because you want to do good for your team, but you just can't...no matter how hard you try.

It's not that my strokes are bad...in fact, they're pretty good. I hit the ball well, got a good serve, and am in relatively good shape. But, I fell into a world of bad tennis. I would talk to myself constantly in matches...always throwing caution right before I'd hit a ball...(for example...I'd think to myself..."watch this ball...watch...make sure your non-dominant arm is in the correct position...don't grip the racket too tight...where's your feet...now hit it...'doh...another shot in the bottom of the net!!!...you're such an idiot...how could you blow that sitter...I hate tennis". That was my mindset!

Well, I have news for those of you that may be in my situation. There is a cure! It's called, "The Inner Game of Tennis." This book has taught me so much! The quieting of the mind is vital and so important...and it has changed my game (and my life!). I just read this book and have determined this book was written for me.

Before, I would curse at myself for hitting a ball out, but now...I simply acknowledge that I hit it out and then free my mind immediately by focusing on something like bouncing the ball with the racket as I go back up to the service line. Or, if I'm in a rally, I watch the rotation of the ball (and actually try to make out the pattern the lines of the ball are making)...and then just let my physical ability hit the ball the way it knows how to hit the ball. No interference with my mind, no instructions, no hatred, nothing. I don't compliment myself, and I certainly don't hate myself for missing. I simply acknowledge both the positive and negative and immediately free myself from thinking about it. For the first time, I feel loose on the court. I'm not nervous when I start playing and I'm not thinking about losing. In fact, I'm not thinking at all. I'm simply hitting the ball with a relaxed, non-thinking mind. And, the result is:

I won a match the other night against a guy who played D1 #6 singles 6-3, 7-5. He had an incredible serve (has won a fast serve contest with it before) and good ground strokes. I approached the match as a new person (mind you, I've played a few matches before this particular match with the new tennis attitude (or non-attitude if you will). But, this particular match was a big win for me. A win that was badly needed. It was such a fun match. He hit big hard serves, and I simply swang the racket at them in a non-judgemental way that was smooth and non-forced. They were going in. I felt a little weird out there. My movement was great, but I wasn't thinking about it. My strokes felt so comfortable. My serves were excellent. I just felt outside myself. When I'd win a point...I simply put it under my belt and went on for the next point. Never succumbing to my instruction-giving mind (except for one instant when he broke me when I was serving for the match). This guy (kid...now 22) had the full package (he's a bit of an overhitter), but I never thought about losing. Heck, I never really thought about anything except when I was up 5-2 in the second set and had match point on his serve. My mind crept in and I tightened up and dumped one in the net which allowed him to eventually hold serve. Then, in the next game, I tightened up on my serve and was broken. Then, I calmed my mind and began playing as I was before.

I'm now excited about playing. I want to play tennis now more than I've ever wanted to play. I just wanted everyone to know that I've read the book. It's exactly what I needed and it's beginning to show. Thanks to all who recommended this to me!!!

My service toss periodically goes a bit wild, and when it does I get tentative and it gets in my head. I get out and practice my motion plenty, but I have noticed that it's only when I'm relaxed and not thinking about it that I get back to my natural service motion. But it only takes one stray toss for my brain to start sowing seeds of doubt again, and then things start going awry again. Would this book address something like that?

SuperJimmy
05-13-2009, 09:08 AM
Thanks! The book has been ordered and on the way :)

samster
05-13-2009, 09:11 AM
Yeah, I agree thinking too much when it comes to hitting the tennis ball is bad. I mean over-thinking is bad; that's when muscles tighten up and choking begins.

Marc The Shark
05-13-2009, 09:39 AM
Man you said this book was written for you!? I feel like this post was written for me! lol 2 seasons ago I was doing really good... was 8-2 and now these past two seasons, well I've been in the Federer slump :( I'm def gonna check it out. Thanks for the info

slick
05-13-2009, 03:26 PM
I thought the book was new age psychobabble trash.

Sorry, just my honest opinion.

smoothtennis
05-14-2009, 07:47 AM
Hey Jay - have you ever tried the role playing experiement? He describes it under the section "Asking For Qualities". I have tried this, and it's scary how well this works at least for me. I don't do it all the time, but have tried it with great results. Makes me wonder what the heck is wrong in my head at times. Something is screwed up in there, that's for sure, LOL.

destroyer
05-14-2009, 04:28 PM
Jay glad you found the cure.
It sounds like tennis is fun for you again.
Hope it continues.

Jay27
05-15-2009, 12:05 PM
I'm glad to have posted this. I played again yesterday, and I got beat...but man, did I play some excellent tennis. The guy I played usually destroys me with no problems whatsoever. He's a relatively stronger 4.5 player and I'm a decent 4.0 player (although, I've been in a slump for over a year until I picked up the book). I played him and he usually beats me 6-1 and maybe 6-2. This time he beat me 7-5 and 6-3. Although I got beat, I didn't feel bad about it at all. I simply logged it in my brain as a "good" loss and I was happy about how I played.

I played this guy as if I wasn't myself. When I play this guy, I usually start out the conversation when we first meet with the proverbial "You gotta take it easy on me...or Don't beat me too bad today", but yesterday I was determined not to say anything that was incriminating. I was bouncing around...as a Nadal would. I felt a sense of confidence that I hadn't in sooooo long. He couldn't believe how well I was playing. It was as if I was a new player. But, as he complimented me during play, I did not let it enter my mind. I kept my focus on silly things like how many times I just bounced the ball or how the rotation looks on the ball as I toss it in the air (this helps me keep my eye on the ball anyway). Or, I focus on the path of my serve before I serve it. It's amazing at how much better my serves are by focusing intently on the trajectory and path flight of the ball before I even hit it. This is even possible during play on regular groundies!

So, if anyone asks if I recommend this book...the answer is ABSOLUTELY! You can spend more at Burger King in one sitting than paying for this book. It's a nice investment that I guarantee will help anyone. But, you will be surprised as this not only addresses tennis, it addresses things other than tennis.

For example, I have a fear of heights. I know that my mind is the culprit. I went up a glass elevator at a building the other day and before I entered the elevator, I calmed my mind. I had it thinking about something totally non-related and relaxed. Generally, I would have been hyper-ventilating at the moment of entering the elevator. My mind was quiet, the elevator was going up...I never thought anything...just relaxed and breathed easy. I rode that elevator 28 stories with a different sense of relaxation. I could have never done that before this book.

In all, playing better tennis is my goal. I'm not worried about losing or winning anymore. I'm only worried about playing hard and staying focused. Focused on anything else other than demeaning instruction to my physical self.

Jay27
05-15-2009, 12:12 PM
My service toss periodically goes a bit wild, and when it does I get tentative and it gets in my head. I get out and practice my motion plenty, but I have noticed that it's only when I'm relaxed and not thinking about it that I get back to my natural service motion. But it only takes one stray toss for my brain to start sowing seeds of doubt again, and then things start going awry again. Would this book address something like that?

100% ABSOLUTELY!

heftylefty
05-16-2009, 05:32 PM
i've read "inner game of tennis", "mental tennis", and "winning ugly". there are parts of all that i really liked, and parts of all that i really disliked. if i had to pick one, i'd say "inner game of tennis" is probably the best. "winning ugly" had some really good pieces of advice, but also a bunch of worthless page fillers that just harp on Gilbert's career.

Cool! I am not the only guy that has all three books. I do like the inner game of tennis the most also. I am also reading "Thinking Body, Dancing Mind" by Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch. It's a decent read.

TsongaEatingAPineappleLol
05-16-2009, 05:52 PM
It's a very good book, mostly about the joy of playing. The facts in there give you really great tips on everything- even though it's old.

GeoffB
05-16-2009, 11:00 PM
I just re-read this book, and I enjoyed it again. Have there been major edits/changes since the original publication? I read it in high school (20 years ago), and it seemed a little different... can't be sure, it was a long time ago.

I think you have to be careful with the techniques suggested in this book. They're valuable, but they can be misinterpreted. In high school, I tried and later rejected the philosophy of this book, partly because I didn't really understand it. By avoiding judgement and self-criticism, and keeping my "self 1" out of the game, I detached too much from what was happening on the court. Instead of achieving a deeper, more natural focus, I took myself out of the game completely, essentially losing all focus.

Now, I do have a better understanding of what the book is getting at, which is gaining the deeper, natural focus that can only come when you stop interfering and overthinking, and start playing the points "in the moment". In this sense, it has been a valuable addition to my game.

Jay27
05-19-2009, 12:20 PM
I just re-read this book, and I enjoyed it again. Have there been major edits/changes since the original publication? I read it in high school (20 years ago), and it seemed a little different... can't be sure, it was a long time ago.

I think you have to be careful with the techniques suggested in this book. They're valuable, but they can be misinterpreted. In high school, I tried and later rejected the philosophy of this book, partly because I didn't really understand it. By avoiding judgement and self-criticism, and keeping my "self 1" out of the game, I detached too much from what was happening on the court. Instead of achieving a deeper, more natural focus, I took myself out of the game completely, essentially losing all focus.

Now, I do have a better understanding of what the book is getting at, which is gaining the deeper, natural focus that can only come when you stop interfering and overthinking, and start playing the points "in the moment". In this sense, it has been a valuable addition to my game.

Exactly! I experienced exactly what you are saying. In my first match after reading the book, I lost a match in which I was disengaged a bit. Actually, a little too disengaged. I was totally relaxed and not thinking...and it led me to not care about getting broke late in the set (actually, I forced myself not to worry or care about it). But, after going through the book and re-reading some of the concepts, I realized I was going at it wrong. I needed to have full focus and concentration on each and every point without allowing Self 1 interfere. I figured out some ways to do just that. That's when things started clicking for me (and they are continuing to click). It's all about letting Self 1 trust Self 2 and allowing Self 2 to do what it knows to do. This is explained so much better in the book, of course. But, the thing I want to get across to people is that this book has helped me with a new sense of attitude on the court. It's boosted my confidence (or has given it back to me) because I'm no longer allowing the self mutilation to happen.

You ABSOLUTELY need to be aware of mixing lethargic, disengaged play with concentrated, focused, mind quieting play. If that makes sense...

split-step
05-19-2009, 07:48 PM
I have unbelievable mental toughness. So when my brother bought me Inner game for Christmas it was only natural for me to re-gift it.

Jay27
05-20-2009, 05:44 AM
I have unbelievable mental toughness. So when my brother bought me Inner game for Christmas it was only natural for me to re-gift it.

LOL...not a bad idea at all. But, the thing I like about not re-gifting it is that when/if you fall into that mental slump, you can always break that book back out and read over some of the concepts to maybe help pull yourself out of it.

I used to have a good mental toughness, then I fell into that realm where things didn't click. I was so mentally tough that it sort of turned against me.

I certainly respect and admire those with that mental toughness. One of my friends has an unbelievable mental toughness. He's one of the nicest guys that I've ever met. He never gets down on himself and never is upset...at anything. Just soooo nice and calm. He is an excellent player and always keeps the ball in with good pace and precision. He wins most of his matches and we always have very tough battles on the court. But, he always seems to have the edge. But, this book has taught me to be focused on the play...to be aware of my conditions and strategies, not to over analyze. And low and behold we played the other night and I was moving and doing so much better. We were on serve when the match ended because of rain, but I wasn't under the stress that I'm usually accustomed to. I was playing a really good match and may have won had the rains not started.

Jay27
05-20-2009, 06:08 AM
Also, I played a 4.0 doubles match last night. My partner and I were in a heated battle. There were breaks left and right, and the match went to a third set. We played and it became another close set. Well, I was serving for the match in the third set at 5-4 and lost the first two points. I then found higher ground by allowing my mind to focus on the trajectory of where my next serve was going to go. ACE...out wide (on deuce side)! Then I focused on the trajectory of my next serve down the "T". Not an ace, but it was good enough that it was unreturnable. Now, 30 all. I hit a serve and got into a rally. I netted the ball after about 4 or 5 shots. The pressure was on, but I didn't really succomb to it. I served to the "Add" side out wide (flat serve) and got another error on their end. Deuce side, I aced out wide again! And then...I hit a good flat serve into the body of my opponent and he popped it up...and yes, my partner took care of the rest...

A Win!

Match went like this: 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4 (3 hours and lots of great points). It was fun and it was an excellent win for us!

sureshs
05-20-2009, 06:59 AM
My service toss periodically goes a bit wild, and when it does I get tentative and it gets in my head. I get out and practice my motion plenty, but I have noticed that it's only when I'm relaxed and not thinking about it that I get back to my natural service motion. But it only takes one stray toss for my brain to start sowing seeds of doubt again, and then things start going awry again. Would this book address something like that?

That is a very common problem. Tell me if you find a cure.

herrburgess
05-20-2009, 08:43 AM
That is a very common problem. Tell me if you find a cure.

A lot of the posters here have mentioned still tensing up at certain points but now, after having learned the techniques in the book, are able to clear their minds after tensing up instead of becoming self-critical and more tense. I feel sure this is the key.

Like I said, when my toss goes wild once, that tends to get in my head and I tense up more, focusing on not throwing another wild toss instead of focusing on the feeling of relaxation in my tossing arm in what is really my natural service motion. I think the "cure" is really a process of learning (practicing) how to let go of the negative thoughts in such a situation and shifting your focus (through a combination of visualization of the natural motion and by blocking out negative thinking through watching the seams of the ball) to the feel of the service motion.

Still, I'm having trouble because the toss is such a small part of the natural motion that it's much easier (for me) to begin to hyperfocus on how to just correct this "ONE SMALL THING!" in order to free up the rest of my game. The other posters here seem to be able to regain focus by thinking, quite literally, of the "bigger picture." I wonder how to shift the focus from the small (but terribly important) matter of the toss to the "bigger picture" of the service motion and the game in general. Any thoughts here would be appreciated.

West Coast Ace
05-20-2009, 01:07 PM
I thought the book was new age psychobabble trash.

Sorry, just my honest opinion.No problem. But seems a little harsh. I've picked up 'Inner' and glanced at a few chapters. I'd say it's just common sense. Sort of like 'The Millionaire Next Door' - don't spend your money on luxury items to impress people, get the most out of your stuff, and make your savings work for you by investing wisely - and you can retire with millions. Wow! How did they think that up?! And the book is 150 pages because they just repeat it over and over. Same with 'Inner' - don't mind-$*(&(%& yourself, don't worry about the score or the outcome, just let your strokes go, and you'll play better.

sureshs
05-20-2009, 01:34 PM
A lot of the posters here have mentioned still tensing up at certain points but now, after having learned the techniques in the book, are able to clear their minds after tensing up instead of becoming self-critical and more tense. I feel sure this is the key.

Like I said, when my toss goes wild once, that tends to get in my head and I tense up more, focusing on not throwing another wild toss instead of focusing on the feeling of relaxation in my tossing arm in what is really my natural service motion. I think the "cure" is really a process of learning (practicing) how to let go of the negative thoughts in such a situation and shifting your focus (through a combination of visualization of the natural motion and by blocking out negative thinking through watching the seams of the ball) to the feel of the service motion.

Still, I'm having trouble because the toss is such a small part of the natural motion that it's much easier (for me) to begin to hyperfocus on how to just correct this "ONE SMALL THING!" in order to free up the rest of my game. The other posters here seem to be able to regain focus by thinking, quite literally, of the "bigger picture." I wonder how to shift the focus from the small (but terribly important) matter of the toss to the "bigger picture" of the service motion and the game in general. Any thoughts here would be appreciated.

Your comments are exactly what I go thru, and I am sure most other people who are not pros.

I like your answer, i.e., clearing your thoughts, but I doubt if it will work or if it is even desirable. If I had a hard day at work, and more to come in the night, I am checking emails on my phone during changeovers. I really don't want to clear my mind. What I want to do is what I achieve during driving: whatever is my state of mind, I drive the same way. I don't forget how to make a U turn. I want to get my serves to the point where it happens without thinking, and conversely, thinking does not affect it. I have already achieved it with my groundies. I can hit any stroke anytime with no hesitation. Serve is the last puzzle.

slick
05-20-2009, 01:38 PM
Exactly WCA! It's kind of common sense but is billed as "revolutionary". Agreed, keeping the self criticism quiet and and maintaining quiet minded focus is probably the best approach for most people, but certainly not everyone. Case in point, 2 of the all time greats, Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe.

herrburgess
05-20-2009, 03:24 PM
Exactly WCA! It's kind of common sense but is billed as "revolutionary". Agreed, keeping the self criticism quiet and and maintaining quiet minded focus is probably the best approach for most people, but certainly not everyone. Case in point, 2 of the all time greats, Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe.

Actually I think the book is saying that if Self 2 is an intense, aggressive competitor (like McEnroe or Connors), then you should let it be so (reread the section at the end on competition); i.e., you should try and quiet the self-criticism but not the intensity. Now if McEnroe were telling himself in his head after arguing a call "Why do I curse and slam my racquet; I'm a hot-headed cry baby" that would be what needs to be avoided, not his intensity. I would think it's describing more the late Boris Becker type, who would mutter criticisms to himself and subsequently tense up.

herrburgess
05-20-2009, 03:30 PM
Your comments are exactly what I go thru, and I am sure most other people who are not pros.

I like your answer, i.e., clearing your thoughts, but I doubt if it will work or if it is even desirable. If I had a hard day at work, and more to come in the night, I am checking emails on my phone during changeovers. I really don't want to clear my mind. What I want to do is what I achieve during driving: whatever is my state of mind, I drive the same way. I don't forget how to make a U turn. I want to get my serves to the point where it happens without thinking, and conversely, thinking does not affect it. I have already achieved it with my groundies. I can hit any stroke anytime with no hesitation. Serve is the last puzzle.

yea, that's the paradox. you are supposed to solve the puzzle without having all the pieces. i'm looking for one small piece, so in my mind the puzzle remains incomplete. it's frustrating.

sureshs
05-20-2009, 03:54 PM
yea, that's the paradox. you are supposed to solve the puzzle without having all the pieces. i'm looking for one small piece, so in my mind the puzzle remains incomplete. it's frustrating.

My comparison to driving is a little bit idealized, I will admit. The tennis serve is a very complex motion, and though it is easy to toss in a dink serve, it does not cut it even at the lowest club levels. The difficulty of the tennis serve can be judged by the fact that the two other closest sports, table tennis and badminton, allow only 1 serve and everyone gets it in 99% of the time.

herrburgess
05-21-2009, 09:50 AM
My comparison to driving is a little bit idealized, I will admit. The tennis serve is a very complex motion, and though it is easy to toss in a dink serve, it does not cut it even at the lowest club levels. The difficulty of the tennis serve can be judged by the fact that the two other closest sports, table tennis and badminton, allow only 1 serve and everyone gets it in 99% of the time.

Yea, can just focusing on the seams of the ball or envisioning the trajectory be strong enough to shift the focus from the toss or is more necessary (such as conscious relaxation). I assume both are necessary. Anyone with experience here?

Jay27
05-21-2009, 12:35 PM
Yea, can just focusing on the seams of the ball or envisioning the trajectory be strong enough to shift the focus from the toss or is more necessary (such as conscious relaxation). I assume both are necessary. Anyone with experience here?

I have a pretty strong serve, and one thing that I do right before I toss the ball is straiten my tossing arm from the lowest point of me holding the ball until it is at its highest point. Everything I do before that moment doesn't matter. Once I figured out how to straighten my arm right before I engaged in the toss, my toss's are consistent and totally relaxed. I don't even think about it anymore.

Here's a link that maybe explains this a little better of what I'm talking about:

www.revolutionarytennis.com/step12-3toss.html

Not sure if this helps, but it's something that I've learned and it definitely has helped me.

sureshs
05-22-2009, 05:26 AM
Yea, can just focusing on the seams of the ball or envisioning the trajectory be strong enough to shift the focus from the toss or is more necessary (such as conscious relaxation). I assume both are necessary. Anyone with experience here?

I tried focusing on the seams last nite, and it is really helpful

herrburgess
05-22-2009, 07:06 AM
I tried focusing on the seams last nite, and it is really helpful

Nice. Did your toss/serve rhythm go off at all, forcing you to calm your mind, or did you keep focused the entire time?

sureshs
05-22-2009, 07:38 AM
Nice. Did your toss/serve rhythm go off at all, forcing you to calm your mind, or did you keep focused the entire time?

My toss is usually stable, and if it is a little off, I compensate for it (I have even seen the pros do it, specially women). My main problem is going for more with each successibe serve, and then screwing up my rhythm because of that. If I don't like my serve, I will sometimes mess up the entire point. Sometimes my serve will be good, but I will not be happy because it was not a smooth serve. I will try something else in the next serve and miss it. Then I will get into a panic state of no return.

What I found was that focusing on trying to identify the seams helped me take my mind off other stuff and also keep my eye on the ball.

smoothtennis
05-22-2009, 08:55 AM
Jay - really glad to hear the techniques in the book are helping your game, and your enjoyment level.

Similar to focusing on the seams, notice, according to Tim, there can be an even deeper level of enagement and concentration (and quieting of self-1), us the bounce-hit cadence. And even using the sounds of the ball.

The funny thing is, I have read the book several times. However, each time I read it, and I just read it again twice, I begin to 'comprehend' the concept he is discussing. I found I sluffed over some of the concepts thinking, "Yeah, yeah, I know that already' many times before - and in reality - missed the point because I didn't read it in 'context'.

I tend to be a very technical type personality. I know a lot about the technique of strokes. This, at some point, can get in the way of just playing. This is where the book can really help a person.

Three key things the book covers that we should all be able to benefit from.

1. Not using judgements, such as good or bad. Just observe and be AWARE.
2. Visualization of the end result of a shot.
3. Relaxed Concentration

The body really does know what to do. When we trip and save ourselves from falling - we really do not think of how to move, or which muscles or technique to engage to prevent the fall. The body is complex, and frankly amazing.

I have been using the visualization on serves lately too. All I can say, is I have been amazed at what has started to happen. I hope to get this into the groundies and volleys in my next few sessions.

stormholloway
05-22-2009, 09:13 AM
This book completely changed the way I think when I play tennis. It's the best of its kind in my opinion. Those criticizing probably just don't get it. Some things that people call "common sense" are really not all that common.

SteveI
05-22-2009, 09:21 AM
Great read.... tennis or no tennis.!

smoothtennis
05-22-2009, 09:42 AM
This book completely changed the way I think when I play tennis. It's the best of its kind in my opinion. Those criticizing probably just don't get it. Some things that people call "common sense" are really not all that common.

Agreed here Storm. It is common sense that someone knows to relax and hit with fluid strokes, stay calm, and concentrate during a match.

But it is the HOW to do these things that may not be so common among typical players.

Jay27
05-22-2009, 11:45 AM
Agreed here Storm. It is common sense that someone knows to relax and hit with fluid strokes, stay calm, and concentrate during a match.

But it is the HOW to do these things that may not be so common among typical players.

Agreed. I've always preached to myself about staying relaxed...and of course it never really worked (maybe in a couple of short instances). But, after reading the book, it helps you to figure out ways to make it work on a consistent basis.

herrburgess
05-22-2009, 02:29 PM
Jay - really glad to hear the techniques in the book are helping your game, and your enjoyment level.

Similar to focusing on the seams, notice, according to Tim, there can be an even deeper level of enagement and concentration (and quieting of self-1), us the bounce-hit cadence. And even using the sounds of the ball.

The funny thing is, I have read the book several times. However, each time I read it, and I just read it again twice, I begin to 'comprehend' the concept he is discussing. I found I sluffed over some of the concepts thinking, "Yeah, yeah, I know that already' many times before - and in reality - missed the point because I didn't read it in 'context'.

I tend to be a very technical type personality. I know a lot about the technique of strokes. This, at some point, can get in the way of just playing. This is where the book can really help a person.

Three key things the book covers that we should all be able to benefit from.

1. Not using judgements, such as good or bad. Just observe and be AWARE.
2. Visualization of the end result of a shot.
3. Relaxed Concentration

The body really does know what to do. When we trip and save ourselves from falling - we really do not think of how to move, or which muscles or technique to engage to prevent the fall. The body is complex, and frankly amazing.

I have been using the visualization on serves lately too. All I can say, is I have been amazed at what has started to happen. I hope to get this into the groundies and volleys in my next few sessions.

I was just rereading parts of the book today myself and noticed something I'd missed the first time around: namely how much emphasis the book puts on winning the inner game, i.e. not trying to use the techniques in the book to win all your tennis matches, rather using tennis matches to win the inner game against your negative thinking, etc. The improvement in your game seems to fall in line behind this shift in focus, but it's not something you can use the book to summon up. It's a simple idea, but something that has to be put into practice for it to become reality.

herrburgess
05-25-2009, 07:51 AM
Agreed. I've always preached to myself about staying relaxed...and of course it never really worked (maybe in a couple of short instances). But, after reading the book, it helps you to figure out ways to make it work on a consistent basis.

Were the techniques immediately effective for you, or did it take some practice before you could make them work for you on a consistent basis?

Jay27
05-26-2009, 07:54 AM
Were the techniques immediately effective for you, or did it take some practice before you could make them work for you on a consistent basis?

I applied the techniques immediately. But, during match play, I focused on the pattern the ball was making (with the seams), and on the serve I focused and visualized the flight path of the ball I wanted to serve. That actually helped a great deal! But, I didn't really succeed with my mind until after about 1 or two matches. If you are very used to talking to yourself and letting your mind be in control (as I was), then it'll take a match or two of focusing on not letting yourself get out of control. Once this is "mastered", you'll do much better in play...I guarantee it.

Also, I played a match on Saturday against a guy that is far and above my level, but I was able to play right with him. I broke his serve 4 times and he broke my serve 6 times for a 6-3, 6-4 loss on my part. It was a good match and the service breaks were something new to me as I have never broken this guy. He had me down 5-2 in the second set, and I brought it back to 5-4 (and then he served it out). I was playing some really good tennis. And, I feel that I'm getting better and better!

smoothtennis
05-26-2009, 11:18 AM
Were the techniques immediately effective for you, or did it take some practice before you could make them work for you on a consistent basis?

I know in my personal case, yes it takes practice. Mental habits are still habits, and as someone said, there is a lot of time in a match for the mind to wander around, and fall into old patterns of thinking and *perception*.

I am starting to have some progress focusing on the spin of the ball, and especially the bounce, rather than thinking of my stroke mechanics. I still yell out sometimes after missing a shot sure--- but it's just a release now. No longer do I run myself down mentally, and degrade myself or strokes after I missed.

Something else here to be learned I am finding. When I stopped running myself down after every missed stroke - and quit focusing on MY STROKES, I am starting to see more dimensions to my oppnents strengths and weaknesses. I think in the past, I have blinded myself with my own issues, and was not as aware of the whole environment - the real reality, not just my perception of it - although reality is always a perception.

Jay27
05-26-2009, 01:11 PM
I know in my personal case, yes it takes practice. Mental habits are still habits, and as someone said, there is a lot of time in a match for the mind to wander around, and fall into old patterns of thinking and *perception*.

I am starting to have some progress focusing on the spin of the ball, and especially the bounce, rather than thinking of my stroke mechanics. I still yell out sometimes after missing a shot sure--- but it's just a release now. No longer do I run myself down mentally, and degrade myself or strokes after I missed.

Something else here to be learned I am finding. When I stopped running myself down after every missed stroke - and quit focusing on MY STROKES, I am starting to see more dimensions to my oppnents strengths and weaknesses. I think in the past, I have blinded myself with my own issues, and was not as aware of the whole environment - the real reality, not just my perception of it - although reality is always a perception.

That's excellent! I've also begun to experience the "slowing" down of play...more aware of the environment and my opponents shots and tactics (including strengths and weaknesses). That's very interesting and very TRUE!

Sakkijarvi
05-29-2009, 07:05 PM
For me a couple of reads of 'inner game' comes down to deploying "ball, bounce" to regain my focus when other things are not working.

I just played a best of 5 match earlier this week on Memorial Day -- 4+ hours of action, I can't think of a better way to spend time, heart-pumping.

Anyhow, I had it all going and won the first set, 6-4. Lots of long rallies. He took the next two sets to go up 2-1 and while I was still hitting the ball where I wanted, he just made all his shots -- he played great. Plus, he came up with a game plan after the first set that thwarted everything I tried.

After three sets it looked like I was going down, and my mind was processing, processing...and tensing up, feeling frustration -- what can I do to turn things around?? So with all else exhausted, I decided to 'go to inner game' and the fourth set was 'ball, bounce' -- and as advertised each stroke became it's own mini fun, I was just hitting and hitting and hitting and enjoying the feeling of ball striking and serving. Won the set, was very relaxed, and took the fifth set 6-1. My buddy, a regular opponent that works out with a pro weekly, plus plays in a singles league...(we're closely matched)...ended up hurling racquet in net. All good afterward -- we're both hyper competitive about these grudge matches and the post match bull session is great fun too.

So, to me, 'inner game' means deploying 'ball, bounce' when I need to relax, a tool I occasionally deploy. Another note: It can be burdensome to remember to repeat the mantra over and over again. But I can usually get back to doing it when I decide I need it.

slick
05-30-2009, 01:56 PM
For me a couple of reads of 'inner game' comes down to deploying "ball, bounce" to regain my focus when other things are not working.

I just played a best of 5 match earlier this week on Memorial Day -- 4+ hours of action, I can't think of a better way to spend time, heart-pumping.

Anyhow, I had it all going and won the first set, 6-4. Lots of long rallies. He took the next two sets to go up 2-1 and while I was still hitting the ball where I wanted, he just made all his shots -- he played great. Plus, he came up with a game plan after the first set that thwarted everything I tried.

After three sets it looked like I was going down, and my mind was processing, processing...and tensing up, feeling frustration -- what can I do to turn things around?? So with all else exhausted, I decided to 'go to inner game' and the fourth set was 'ball, bounce' -- and as advertised each stroke became it's own mini fun, I was just hitting and hitting and hitting and enjoying the feeling of ball striking and serving. Won the set, was very relaxed, and took the fifth set 6-1. My buddy, a regular opponent that works out with a pro weekly, plus plays in a singles league...(we're closely matched)...ended up hurling racquet in net. All good afterward -- we're both hyper competitive about these grudge matches and the post match bull session is great fun too.

So, to me, 'inner game' means deploying 'ball, bounce' when I need to relax, a tool I occasionally deploy. Another note: It can be burdensome to remember to repeat the mantra over and over again. But I can usually get back to doing it when I decide I need it.

Don't you mean "bounce, hit"?

herrburgess
06-02-2009, 10:24 AM
I went out for my first match after reading the book...the match happened to be #1 doubles at States! Well, my service toss stayed smooth throughout the match; not once did it go astray as I continued to focus on the seams. Still Self 1 was still in control to some degree on my serve, as I never got into a real groove. Nevertheless I was pleased with my first serve percentage and the single double fault...and I was pleased with my toss consistency. However, I was still so focused on getting my serve in that I didn't notice that my opponents were reading my serve and volley strategy perfectly and were taking full advantage in the forms of well-placed returns and perfectly executed lobs. We lost the first set 4-6.

Luckily my partner picked up on their strategy and told me to start staying back on my serve, which I did. My net play had been good and natural (and highly successful) all during the first set, and now I was needing to stay back...which brought Self 1 back into the picture concerning my weak forehand. At that point I remember somehow thinking "f*** it, if it goes long it goes long" and I focused on the feel of my swing. Well, my forehands started falling in and my slice backhand held up great in some longer rallies. My net game stayed on track and somewhere around 4-1 the knowledge befell me that there was no way we were going to lose. We won the second set 6-1 and the 10-point tiebreak 10-2.

The guys were previously undefeated the entire season, having never lost more than 3 games in a set and having won at least 2 matches 6-0 6-0. I truly think that, despite the big stage and despite my lack of match preparation, that the book helped me get through the match and be successful. I went out and hit today to practice my forehand. The first few balls sailed very long, but I remained open and aware of the feel of my stroke, and soon enough I was hitting near perfect topspin forehands to whichever part of the court I envisioned hitting them to. I puposefully didn't go to youtube to get a video lesson on forehands, just trusted Self 2 to get it right and let Self 1 register the feel. With more match play and more trust in Self 2 to do in a match what I've seen it can do in practice, I'm eagerly awaiting the start of combo league. Thanks to the OP for this thread.

Sakkijarvi
06-03-2009, 05:11 PM
"Don't you mean "bounce, hit"?"

Of course, you're right! I wouldn't have noticed that my recollection from the book was 'off'...I go with "ball" when I first see it, on the server's toss, or at contact with the opponent's racquet. Then "bounce" on the bounce. At that point I am relaxed and just hit -- I do not need to think/say "hit". It's been a while since I read the book.

In any case, picking up the ball when I do works for me so I'll have to consider my approach 'modified inner game'....noting it was certainly a result of the approach espoused in the book referred to by the OP.

Jay27
06-04-2009, 08:56 PM
I went out for my first match after reading the book...the match happened to be #1 doubles at States! Well, my service toss stayed smooth throughout the match; not once did it go astray as I continued to focus on the seams. Still Self 1 was still in control to some degree on my serve, as I never got into a real groove. Nevertheless I was pleased with my first serve percentage and the single double fault...and I was pleased with my toss consistency. However, I was still so focused on getting my serve in that I didn't notice that my opponents were reading my serve and volley strategy perfectly and were taking full advantage in the forms of well-placed returns and perfectly executed lobs. We lost the first set 4-6.

Luckily my partner picked up on their strategy and told me to start staying back on my serve, which I did. My net play had been good and natural (and highly successful) all during the first set, and now I was needing to stay back...which brought Self 1 back into the picture concerning my weak forehand. At that point I remember somehow thinking "f*** it, if it goes long it goes long" and I focused on the feel of my swing. Well, my forehands started falling in and my slice backhand held up great in some longer rallies. My net game stayed on track and somewhere around 4-1 the knowledge befell me that there was no way we were going to lose. We won the second set 6-1 and the 10-point tiebreak 10-2.

The guys were previously undefeated the entire season, having never lost more than 3 games in a set and having won at least 2 matches 6-0 6-0. I truly think that, despite the big stage and despite my lack of match preparation, that the book helped me get through the match and be successful. I went out and hit today to practice my forehand. The first few balls sailed very long, but I remained open and aware of the feel of my stroke, and soon enough I was hitting near perfect topspin forehands to whichever part of the court I envisioned hitting them to. I puposefully didn't go to youtube to get a video lesson on forehands, just trusted Self 2 to get it right and let Self 1 register the feel. With more match play and more trust in Self 2 to do in a match what I've seen it can do in practice, I'm eagerly awaiting the start of combo league. Thanks to the OP for this thread.

Awesome! I'm really happy for you!

TennisNinja
06-04-2009, 09:20 PM
I thought it was just ok. My favorites so far have been Tennis Beyond the Big Shots, and the books by Brad Gilbert.

herrburgess
07-30-2009, 09:12 AM
Thought I'd revive this thread as I had an interesting experience last night in a league match that has left me a bit frustrated, despite all the help The Inner Game has provided.

I was playing up 1.5 levels from my rating at #1 doubles, so it was going to be a tough match regardless. I came to the match a bit tense, but felt loose when play started. I was making some silly mistakes in the first set but managed to keep Self 1 silent and retain my focus. We lost the first set 6-7 (5-7).

At the start of the second set Self 1 crept back in. It started to tell Self 2 things like "You need to run around your backhand on this return, otherwise the net guy is going to poach and put the ball away." So I started to try and run around my bh. Problem then was that the guy I was returning against was a lefty, so I was having a hard time getting a read on his slice serve (btw, he, too was playing up 1.5 levels). Then Self 1 started to say things like: "Well your slice bh return will never suffice at this level, so you're going to need to develop something better if you ever hope to compete with these guys." Soon enough we were down 5-2 in the 2nd set.

At that point I thought, "I'm just going to go with the strokes I feel comfortable with and if they poach and put it away, so be it." My next bh return was nice and low, skidded, and was promptly netted by my opponent. I hit quite a few of those and soon the score was 5-5. We took the 2nd set 7-5.

In the tiebreaker I started to think "Hey, you can not only hang with these guys, but can even win!" Unsurprisingly I flubbed a few shots and we lost 10-6. Then the thoughts of "Well, you're definitely going to have to develop a bh weapon if you want to do better next time, etc. etc." returned.

I found it hard to accept the loss, as Self 1 was telling me not only what I needed to do to improve, but that I should have won. I'm kind of stuck now on the idea that, yes, I should have won. Anyone else face this mental block after a close loss? Any experiences on how you managed to let go of it? I'm asking because I will be facing these guys again 2 more times.

herrburgess
07-30-2009, 09:44 AM
I should probably clarify: it was a combo match, where one of the opponents was rated 1.5 levels higher than me, so technically not really "playing up"

ttbrowne
08-04-2009, 03:42 PM
Good for you, but I cannot play relaxed. If I'm relaxed, I don't care if the ball goes into the net or not. If I'm relaxed, I want to be somewhere else, not playing tennis. I have to be in a constant state of stress to play my best. But I'm used to it. I've been playing that way for years.

Ajtat411
08-14-2009, 04:02 PM
Thought I'd revive this thread as I had an interesting experience last night in a league match that has left me a bit frustrated, despite all the help The Inner Game has provided.

I was playing up 1.5 levels from my rating at #1 doubles, so it was going to be a tough match regardless. I came to the match a bit tense, but felt loose when play started. I was making some silly mistakes in the first set but managed to keep Self 1 silent and retain my focus. We lost the first set 6-7 (5-7).

At the start of the second set Self 1 crept back in. It started to tell Self 2 things like "You need to run around your backhand on this return, otherwise the net guy is going to poach and put the ball away." So I started to try and run around my bh. Problem then was that the guy I was returning against was a lefty, so I was having a hard time getting a read on his slice serve (btw, he, too was playing up 1.5 levels). Then Self 1 started to say things like: "Well your slice bh return will never suffice at this level, so you're going to need to develop something better if you ever hope to compete with these guys." Soon enough we were down 5-2 in the 2nd set.

At that point I thought, "I'm just going to go with the strokes I feel comfortable with and if they poach and put it away, so be it." My next bh return was nice and low, skidded, and was promptly netted by my opponent. I hit quite a few of those and soon the score was 5-5. We took the 2nd set 7-5.

In the tiebreaker I started to think "Hey, you can not only hang with these guys, but can even win!" Unsurprisingly I flubbed a few shots and we lost 10-6. Then the thoughts of "Well, you're definitely going to have to develop a bh weapon if you want to do better next time, etc. etc." returned.

I found it hard to accept the loss, as Self 1 was telling me not only what I needed to do to improve, but that I should have won. I'm kind of stuck now on the idea that, yes, I should have won. Anyone else face this mental block after a close loss? Any experiences on how you managed to let go of it? I'm asking because I will be facing these guys again 2 more times.

That is tough. When you put expectations on yourself to win you put added pressure on self 1 & 2. I think that there are a lot of people who say they should have beaten their opponent but it doesn't really matter does it because what happens will happen, you can't say you would have because you didn't. No use in pondering what if's. Just try to learn from your match and practice subduing self 1 in those critical moments and have fun. Also practice shots you feel are your weaknesses and make it automatic.