My Passion for tennis (6) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

In The Inner Game of Tennis, author W. Timothy Gallwey names three categories of tennis players and their aims and motivations for playing, both on and off the court.

Category #1 - Good-O - Proving myself "good"

(1) "How Good can I get?" In golf, "good" is measured against par, in tennis against self-conceived expectations or the expectations of parents, coaches or friends. Good-O aims to reach the highest standard of perfection possible. Why? the desire to prove oneself competent and worthy of the respect of others.

(2) "I"m better than you"...Here "good" is measured against the performance of other players. Good-O wants to be at the top of the heap. "Its not how well I play, but whether I win or lose that counts" Problem? the mind's preoccupation with comparing oneself with others. First you think your game is better, then some doubts float in and you begin to feel your opponent may be better....result: fear of defeat.

(3) "Look at me!"....."good" is measured by appearance. Neither winning nor playing well matters as much as style. Good-O aims to look good, flashy, strong, brilliant, smooth and graceful. Motive? the desire for attention or praise. To Good-O, one can never look good enough....perfect strokes, $200 tennis shoes, best of the line tennis clothes, the newest racket, matching hat, sweatbands, water canister, plus a great tan and pearly white teeth.

Category #2 - Friends-O - Making or keeping friends

(1) "We play at the country club" Friends-O feels that its not so important how good you are as it is where you play and who plays with you. This is the "social game" play to maintain or improve social status. However, beating your boss or customer on a regular basis may not be a good idea.

(2) "All my good friends play tennis" This is about the same as (1) but more often played at cheaper public courts ... but the motive is the same...the desire for acceptance and friendship. Even if you play with your friends, playing too well may be a mistake. No one wants to be beaten constantly especially by a good friend. If they feel you are too good for them, you may have trouble finding a game.

(3) "My husband (or wife) is always playing tennis". Friends-O feels that he/she is lonely and needs to spend more time with the spouse. This is not the best reason in the world to take up tennis. The biggest obstacle is becoming good enough for the spouse to play with you. The next biggest obstacle is telling the spouse that you are too good to play with him or her.
Category #3 - Health-0-Fun-0 - Mental or physical health or pleasure

You or your doctor have decided that you need more exercise. Ah yes, you know that idea...exercise, work up a sweat, relax the mind. Obviously the doctor, a non-tennis player, isn't taking into account the frustrations this can cause. But, its healthy, gets you outdoors and moving, improves vitality and, prolongs the idea of youth.

In your mind, you doubt that tennis is really helping. You can't find anyone who, like you wants to take up this demanding sport.....Answer!!! take lessons, join a sports group, hit a ball against a wall. Hitting a ball against something is a good way to take out frustrations caused by daily life...bosses, children, traffic, in-laws, spouses.
Soon you'll learn to appreciate the subleties of the game and find yourself being drawn into Category #2 or even Category #1.

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