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Posted in: Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

How Do You Use The Inner Game Principles?

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  • PeteF


    The Inner Game has been around now for 45 years! Tim Gallwey's journey into more effective learning and performance began when he realised that his tennis students were creating mental interference with internal dialogue and other distractions and that his coaching was often contributing to this instead of helping the process!

    Back in 2003, I was lucky enough to be part of a team of tennis coaches who were trained by Sir John Whitmore to deliver coach training CPD for the Inner Game skill set. I got a lot of useful learning from this and over the years I've seen how effective using the Inner Game principles as a coach can be.

    I'd be very interested to find out from the Connected Coaches community how many of you use the Inner Game principles and especially HOW you use these ideas and strategies in your coaching. What difference has this made to your coaching and your students' learning, performance and enjoyment?

    The tennis coach tutor team got to meet Tim one day back when we were getting our initial training - I was struck by his humility and curiosity. Tim is in the UK this month delivering a conference for sports coaches and players - partly to celebrate 45 years of the Inner Game. All being well, I'll be getting a chance to speak to him again after all these years and I'm sure he'll be interested to hear what the Connected Coaches community has to say!


  • simonjeremyturner

    Hi Peter

    The Inner Game of Tennis had a big impact on my as an aspiring basketball player 20 years ago. In my coaching I try to help players identify a 'moment of stillness' within the chaos of a game. This can be as a team - particularly at the beginning of a time out.

    I also use the concept to describe the brief moment after a player has let go of a shot but before it reaches the hoop. Although I haven't quantified the results, I have found found it a useful way of introducing mindfulness to players through basketball. 


  • PeteF

    Thanks for taking the time to reply, Simon!

    Would you say that this moment of stillness is possible throughout the chaos of a game? Do you deliberately coach Relaxed Focused Attention to help your players achieve this or would you call it something else? What are the 'Go-To' critical variables that you might direct your players' attention towards that you find particularly helpful for basketball?


  • incog

    I attended a course on The Inner Game and it had a huge impact on me at the time. I now use it as much as I can in an equestrian context. It has been brilliant at raising self-awareness in my riders.

  • PeteF

    Hi Jill - thanks for your reply!

    How would you sum up the main things that you actually do to incorporate the Inner Game principles to help your riders and what would you say are, for you, the most useful Critical Variables to help your riders to focus on?



  • incog

    Difficult to say without being technical for my sport, but for example if the rider does not have an even rein contact I will ask them to give me a number between 1 and 10 for how strong the horse is in each rein, if they say 5 in right rein and 7 in left then I suggest they make it a 6 in both and then leave them for a while to work that out. I draw their attention to the area they need to focus on without actually telling them how to correct it, once they become aware of the problem they start to put it right themselves. Make them focus on it helps them concentrate and they start to realise they can sort these things out on their own which gives them confidence when they are competing.

  • incog

    Tim Gallwey is taking a course himself later this month in Hertford.


  • PeteF
    On 09/04/19 9:09 PM, Jill Day said:

    Make them focus on it helps them concentrate and they start to realise they can sort these things out on their own which gives them confidence when they are competing.

    Thanks Jill - yes I remember when I first gave my students just a little more time to work it out and resisted the old urge to dive in too soon with all my technical knowledge - what a difference it made! What you say about making them focus on an area but then allowing them the time for increasing their own self-awareness, shows, for me, how both directive and non-directive coaching skills sit well together - it doesn't have to be one or the other.

  • Gwilym

    I started using the Inner game principals from the book, to help my golf game which I took up rather late in life. My golf handicap  reached a sticking point at eleven fairly rapidly and it stayed that way for many years due to being just a weekend golfer.  My other hobby was Oympic  Weightlifting in which I  only competed as a  Master as there was a lot less competition. I adapted  the Inner Game priciples to the sport, these crowded out most  of  the technical lifting thoughts, allowing my body to do  what was necessary. I am  weightlifting Coach and although there is sometimes a  reluctance for the kids to say the key points out loud there is usually some humour. My age will be 88 in a couple of months, so I have to be satisfied with my three bronze and a silver worlds.

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