What is The Inner Game?

“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How you play this game usually makes the difference between success and failure.” -Tim Gallwey


Inner Game at a Glance

In every human endeavor there are two arenas of engagement: the outer and the inner. The outer game is played on an external arena to overcome external obstacles to reach an external goal. The inner game takes place within the mind of the player and is played against such obstacles as fear, self-doubt, lapses in focus, and limiting concepts or assumptions. The inner game is played to overcome the self-imposed obstacles that prevent an individual or team from accessing their full potential.

In simple terms the game can be summarized in a formula: Performance = potential-interference, P=p-i. According to this formula, performance can be enhanced either by growing “ppotential or by decreasing “i,” interference.

Recent Association for Coaching Interview with Tim Gallwey

It is impossible to achieve mastery or satisfaction in any endeavor without first developing some degree of mastery of the relatively neglected skills of the inner game. Most of us have experienced days when our self-interference was at a minimum. Whether on a sports field, at work, or in some creative effort, we have all had moments in which our actions flowed from us with a kind of effortless excellence. Athletes have called this state, “playing in the zone.” Generally at these times our mind is quiet and focused. But whatever it’s called, when we’re there, we excel, we learn, and we enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately most of us have also experienced times when everything we do seems difficult. With minds filled with self-criticism, hesitation, and over-analysis, our actions were awkward, mis-timed, and ineffective. Obviously we all would prefer to have more of the first and less of the second.

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