A key to winning the 'inner game'...what we do in the gap between stimulus and response

I was reminded yesterday on Twitter by @JB-sportspych (Julia Blackwood HCPC registered/BPS Chartered Sport Psychologist) of a super quote attributed to Victor Frankl (see Man's Search for Meaning):

'Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom' 

For me this provides a great reference point to the 'inner game' as described by Tim Gallwey, author of 'The Inner Game of Tennis':

'A tennis player first confronts the Inner Game when he discovers that there is an opponent inside his head more formidable than the one across the net.  He then realises that the greatest difficulty in returning a deep backhand lies not in speed and placement of the ball itself, but in his mind's reaction to that ball: his thinking makes the shot more difficult than it really is.

The Inner Game is that which takes place in our mind, and is played against such elusive opponents as nervousness, self-doubt and lapses of concentration.  It is a game played by your mind against its own bad habits.  Replacing one pattern of mental behaviour with a new, more positive one is the purpose of the Inner Game.'

So much of winning the inner game comes down to our responsibility or better phrased our 'ability to respond' to whatever the stimulus and how we manage the gap before responding.  It may be that the first step is actually to create a gap, so quick we are to respond.  

Taking 5 deep breaths in and 5 deep exhales could be a great starting point!

In a tennis match we are constantly subjected to event after event after event (stimuli), as we are of course in life, particularly right now with the corona virus crisis.

So often we dive in with a response, and most often this response is generated first and foremost by an emotion.  The emotions we experience of course are undeniable and often unavoidable, but our response to them as seen in our own physiology and behaviour are more under our influence and they will have significant bearing on the outcome of a match, another day in isolation, and indeed our futures once we can resume life with degree of normality.

And the reward isn't just increasing our chances of winning a tennis match, but the 'winning' at life and the promised reward of personal growth and freedom from the thinking and fear that can limit and hold us back.

In today's video, we can train our 'mind's reaction to that ball' through a behaviour known as the 'split-step', and in today's case the 'uneven' split which takes place on one foot when we have been able to get a good 'read' on the direction of our opponent's shot.

Tomorrow, we'll look at what the 'P' in R.E.S.P.E.C.T stands for as we continue to explore how to become expert at the basics.

R - ready to read and react 

E - with energy in the feet (bringing sharpness to the mind)

S - split step (even and uneven)

P -

E -

C -

T -