Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Playing the inner game

Last Sunday, I got thrashed by Shin, my tennis teacher for not following the basics. He told me that I am getting carried away with my own style of Tennis, which is far away from what is called basics. When playing I started thinking about what he said, and tried to follow all that he told, but things just got worse, to the point, that I was not able to return a forehand cross court, either in my style or the correct style. I was so much out of sorts that I requested him for a break, which he was glad to offer.

That made me think about, coaching, learning, and of all doing things correctly that you already know. For example, I know how to play a forehand cross court, I have done it a thousand times flawlessy (right from the first time). It is just that in the due course I settled to a style that suits me. In doing so, it seems that I am way off target. Missing the basics. And last Sunday, when it got pointed out, it was difficult to change my comfortable style I lost something. Later I understood it was the so called "Inner game". Last Sunday, during practise sessions, hopelessly, I failed again and again ...

Now talking about Inner game, recently I had been browsing a lot, especially about software development in the 60s, 70s, 80s, ... and while doing so I came across this wonderful video, a lecture by Alan Kay. It is a 90 minutes video on user interfaces, dynabook and a lot more ...

Now the part I wanted to talk about, is an excerpt from this video. When Alan Kay talks about the teaching methods, he points to Tim Galleway, who used to be a great coach, and has written this good book called, "The inner game of Tennis". The book was very interesting that I immediately order it from Amazon Japan.

Now, talking briefly about this book, Tim differentiates any game that is played into two,
- The inner game (played in the player's mind) and
- The outer game (played by the player's body)
Interesting isn't it, he talks extensively about the inner game in his book. As far as the outer one, there are more books than the number of tennis balls ever made (that was just a joke). According to Tim, Inner game is played in the player's mind, that does not think, and when you start playing the game in your mind, you start winning. And when you start thinking (too much), you start loosing. Anyway, there are 2 videos that talk about this (they are embedded in this article at the end).

Now, talking about Inner game, and last week's session of Tennis, I thought I lost the inner game and starting thinking way too much, that it the end I just messed up "everything that I had been doing correctly". During my tennis sessions I have witnessed this many times, but mostly with others. When they were taught too much (or paid much attention), people just started playing badly. Is it because they are loosing the inner game. I think so.

The following videos is a proof to Tim's coaching success. I wish everyone I know enjoy it.

I also ordered a Japanese version of the book for Shin ;-). His birthday is on the 22nd of Feb, and I will gift to him on that day (though I am raring to give asap), and hope that he reads it through.

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