The Inner Game Of Golf

Let me introduce this term first:

Timothy Gallwey wrote this book »The Inner Game of Tennis« in 1974 and presented us with a radically
different approach to teaching tennis (and other endeavors such as golf ) as was the standard practice.
He masterfully demonstrated the role of the mind in learning and how in most cases it is our biggest obstacle in reaching our peak performance. .

When one realizes that something in his mind is preventing him from reaching his full potential, he becomes the inner player. Now he knows what to work on. But most of the time - he has no idea HOW to do that.

He does understand though that errors in performance usually take place in his mind before they express themselves in actions. So his goal becomes getting rid of these limitations.

Here's a short list of these limitations - inner obstacles:
- fear (of losing, not improving, looking bad in the eyes of
others, ...)
- lack of self-confidence
- self-condemnation
- poor concentration
- trying too hard
- perfectionism
- self-consciousness
- frustration
- anger
- boredom
- expectations
- a busy mind

One of the main principles of Inner Game approach is to focus our attention on the ball, so that Self 2 can work its magic uninterfered. We can think only one thought at a time. It may seem sometimes that we are thinking many thoughts at the same time but if you become really aware you'll notice that they only follow one
after another very rapidly.

Self1 and Self2

 If we take a moment and listen to what is really going on in our minds, we will discover that there is a constant dialogue going on.
There seems to be one voice doing all the commanding and criticizing and some other part being quiet and doing the actions.  We can quickly see that their relationship does not feel too friendly. There is one part, Self 1, which constantly tells the other part what to do. It seems to know everything there is about golf - how to bend the knees, watch the ball, follow through and so  on.

And then there is the other part, Self 2, who is a silent doer. And yet, the Self 1 doesn't trust Self 2 much and even takes things in its own »hands« and starts moving the body, tightening all sorts of muscles. Since all the fluidity and timing is gone by now, the result is usually mishit shots and Self1 gets one more chance to
degrade Self2.

Quieting the Mind

If Self 1 gets absorbed, then Self 2 is free to perform at its peak. And that is the right relationship between Self 1 and Self 2.

One of biggest obstacles of learning is the constant Self1 activity. It prevents us to experience events as they are. It clouds our awareness and projects our fears and doubts into the event - the flying ball or even before that.

Here is a drill I adapted from the book to work for your golf swing and keep Self 1 quiet.

1. When you reach the top of your backswing say 1.
2. When you reach your fininsh position say 2.
3. Hold your fininsh until the ball lands and say 3.

The Inner Game approach shows the way to freedom in performance, being in the state of acceptance - of the events and of yourself.

If you currently feel yourself in the state of paralysis by analysis then I suggest you give the above drill a go, you may just be astounded at how good you are when you get out of your own way.