The Inner Game

I’m treating myself this week to an hour off every afternoon to watch the BBC highlights of the Australian Open Tennis tournament.  I admire the amazing shots and tactics as each player battles to outwit and outplay their opponent. 

What I find most fascinating is the emotions experienced by the players and how crucial it is for them to be able to manage their emotions and state of mind.  I saw Fognini, playing Nadal, go from playing confident, flowing tennis to anger, frustration and dejection, as he made a series of unforced errors.  He needed mental strategies to regain his equilibrium. 

One of the first books I read about coaching was Timothy Gallwey’s “The Inner Game of Work” which drew on his experience in sports, especially tennis and golf.  Gallwey suggested that

performance is potential minus interference

– with the interference coming from our own thoughts and emotions.  He wrote that “the opponent within one’s own head is more formidable than the one on the other side of the net”.

One of the most important roles of a coach, is to help clients reduce their interference and instead to build their self-belief and self-confidence, and their resilience to bounce back from setbacks.  That’s why I love working as a coach!  I also love playing tennis – unfortunately, the featured image isn’t me!