Mastering Your Inner Game
I have recently just finished listening to the book ‘Mastering your inner game of tennis” which I highly recommend!
It would be up there in terms of the best books on mindset for sports. It details how we can improve our focus and attention when mastering our minds.
While this book uses tennis as the sport, the principles apply to us as riders. What we focus on and where you place your attention will affect your results.
It’s about how to get out of your way so you can perform at your best. How to “get out of your head” so you don’t try to control your unconscious processes with your conscious mind.
You may have heard me mention in this article here about ‘A focused and engaged mind’ where I talked about imagining there are two of you, one your ‘ideal self’ and the other your ‘current self’.
Author Timothy Gallwey introduces the idea of “Self 1,” which governs our ego-mind—the part of our brain that is chastising ourselves for mistakes and praising us for successes—and “Self 2,” which relies on base instincts to do everything from continuing to breathe to hitting a tennis ball.
The ultimate goal is to quiet Self 1 and allow Self 2 to come to the forefront of our decision-making. Learning to concentrate intently, quiet the mind, and focus.
One of the examples he uses to help focus his clients is by giving the mind something to focus on, so he gets his students to focus on the lines on the tennis ball as it comes bouncing towards them to help them focus on the ball and where those lines will hit the racket.
He then goes in further and gets the clients to listen to the ball’s sound when it hits the ground and the racket. To then identify and notice how a good hit sounds versus one not-so-good.
By using our senses and focusing on the details, we can clear our minds of chatter and focus inwards.
So instead of telling the mind to be quiet, instead, let go of all of that inner chatter and focus in on the details by giving the mind something to focus on.
How does this apply to riding?
One way I have applied this to my riding is to think about my horse’s body and feel my horse’s back feet hit the ground through to the connection on the bit. To visualise where those back feet are and where they are tracking up with each step.
To even see if I can hear those back feet hit the ground. And notice, when I think about the hind end of my horse and how that is moving, I can then feel the entire horse, not just what’s in the reins and in front of me.
It’s something I am using to help focus my mind on my everyday rides, which I then hope to help my focus when it comes to competitions.
Being able to tune into the details, to be able to feel where your horse’s legs are through to what that means for the contact and how your horse is moving through its body. By focusing on feel, sound, and connection, you can let go of the surroundings and things that may distract you.
It’s something I am experimenting with anyway, and I thought you might like too as well. Or maybe you focus on other details? I’d love to hear.
I hope this helps, and I highly recommend the read.
“The player of the inner games comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills; the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard”