Inner Game mini-workshop (3)

(This is part 3. Part 1 is here and part 2 here.)

What is “Inner Game”?

Inner Game is a game that takes place in your head and your heart. It’s all the internal obstacles that take place within the person, and your trust in your own potential.

So, it’s overcoming fear, doubt, lapses in concentration, and accessing your potential to perform in any given arena.

Tim Gallwey in “What is the Inner Game?” |YouTube

In Tim Gallwey’s Inner Game, a key concept is interference. This refers particularly to inner interference or self-interference: the “fear, doubt, lapses in concentration”, etc.

“Every outer game is different: tennis is different than football, it’s different than making a million dollars in a bank. But what’s the same is our patterns of interference. We take them with us wherever we go. So if you can find techniques and methods for finding the interference, and heightening the focus of attention, then you’ve got something you can use in any outer game you want.”

Tim Gallwey in “The Inner Game of Tennis ‘Bounce hit'”

An important element in the Inner Game approach, therefore, is to identify simple, interesting and relevant activities that can distract, even if just a little bit, that inner critic and allow our natural ability to learn to come out and play.

In the previous video, Tim introduces the activity of “bounce-hit” to do that: it focuses the attention of the player/learner while at the same time allowing her eyes and ears to notice a good player in action. It’s a non-stressful activity because there is no trying to get it right involved: it’s just an exercise in awareness.

In this video, he introduces another one he calls “trajectory”. As you’re watching, perhaps you could ask yourself what equivalent activity or activities could you usefully use to help you improve your teaching, or to help your students improve their learning, or whatever your outer game happens to be?

Inner Game mini-workshop (2)

Just a quick follow-up to give you a little more information about this Friday’s mini-workshop.

Date: Friday Feb. 26th 14:00-15:00 JST

I hope you had a chance to watch the video I sent in the previous email. In that video (link below), Tim Gallwey tells of how, when he was coaching people in tennis, coaching them the “traditional” way, that is telling them what to do and what not to do, but when he imagined what might be going on inside their head as the ball came at them over the net, he realized they would have all these instructions running through their minds and they would be trying to remember and obey them as well as trying to play tennis. He also knew that tennis players when playing at their best often report that at that time, nothing is going through their minds. Some even report that it felt like it wasn’t really them playing or doing, like it was someone else doing it.

Tim surmised that the instructions might actually be getting in the way rather than helping, especially if the ultimate objective is peak performance, that state which others have called “flow”.

Because the instructions create (or make worse) a critical stance, an assumption that you (the performer, of whatever it is, tennis or dancing or playing an instrument or teaching or selling) are not doing it right, that you don’t know how to do it right and you need to listen to an expert to learn, or to correct how you are doing it. It does not encourage you to trust yourself, and yet trust is one of the key elements in flow or peak performance. How to solve this paradox?

He then got the idea that when you are playing a game, a sport, like tennis, there are actually two games going on: one is the outer game, trying to win, trying to score the goal or get the point, and the other is the inner game, the game going on inside the player, the “self-talk”. Who is talking to whom? What are they saying?

His next step was to look for ways to quieten the critical voice, to distract it. Obviously, these were designed for people playing tennis (in this video, for instance, you’ll hear some of Tim’s suggestions): 

In the mini-workshop, I’ll give a brief introduction to this idea of an inner dialogue and how it might interfere with optimal performance, as well as to a couple of tools that might help minimize its limiting or negative effects. We’ll do a couple of simple exercises to see how the inner dialogue works in practice, in the “performance” of teaching and learning, and consider some ways that might quieten the inner dialogue (our own and that of our students). The rest of the time will be devoted to feedback and sharing from participants, including discussion about whether these ideas and exercises are applicable to our own language teaching and learning, and if so, how might they be applied?

Here’s a 6-minute clip from a TV show in the 1970s where Tim is teaching beginners using his Inner Game approach. He explains the “bounce-hit” exercise and some others in a little more detail than in the first video I linked to above. The picture quality is not of the best but the sound is ok:

Inner Game mini-workshop

Last year, I took part in an Inner Game workshop run by Inner Game founder Tim Gallwey, and enjoyed it so much that I immediately signed up for the next one. Only later, once I read the small print, did I realize this was a workshop to train future Inner Game facilitators!

So after the workshop, the next step is for us budding facilitators to facilitate a workshop of our own with a few people who know nothing about Inner Game.

The Inner Game of Teaching and Learning (foreign languages) is my niche, so I reached out to some teachers I know and have set up a mini-workshop for this Friday Feb. 26th, 2-3 pm, on Zoom.

If you’re interested, leave a comment (use a current email address you check regularly), and I’ll send you the link.

It’s free.

Here’s a little bit of background:

Have you ever heard of the “Inner Game”? Some of you may have heard of (or read) a classic coaching book titled “The Inner Game of Tennis”, written by Tim Gallwey in the 1970s. Well, after the phenomenal success of that book, Tim was invited to apply his insights in coaching tennis to first other sports and then to corporate and managerial challenges.

In fact, Tim’s book was in the news again recently when Tom Brady won the Super Bowl (see article here: This Is the Book Tom Brady Hails for His Unshakable Mental Toughness | )

I recently took a couple of workshops online with Tim Gallwey, and would like to a) share some of the ideas in it with you and b) invite you share your experiences and observations of teaching English in Japan. My aim is to a) explore the possibility that Inner Game ideas can be of practical value to classroom language teachers, and  b) to collect teachers’ experiences of things that get in the way of optimal teaching and learning English in Japan.

If you are unfamiliar with Tim Gallwey’s Inner Game, this 5-minute video is a good intro:

Covid-19 smorgasbord

A sample of quotes, comments, food-for-thought articles, vids, etc. I’ve picked up in the past week or 2.

“No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.”– Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

At least 181 people have died in the US according to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), after taking experimental vaccines meant to combat a 99.4% to 99.8% survival rate virus, the death toll for which a team of researchers in one state found may be inflated by as much as 40%.

181 People Die After COVID Vaccine in US “Adverse Events”, Nurses Refuse to Give Vaccines for Ethical Reasons | Hubpages 24 Jan 2021

There is absolutely no need for vaccines to extinguish the pandemic. I’ve never heard such nonsense talked about vaccines. You do not vaccinate people who aren’t at risk from a disease. You also don’t set about planning to vaccinate millions of fit and healthy people with a vaccine that hasn’t been extensively tested on human subjects. This much I know after 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Yet there are such moves afoot. 

What SAGE got wrong | Lockdown sceptics (quote from Dr. Michael Yeadon, former VP and Chief Science Officer of Pfizer)

This inspires confidence in the NHS, doesn’t it?

A few days before Christmas, I received an email from the NHS stating: ‘We are writing to let you know about government advice for people considered to be at highest risk of becoming very unwell if they catch Covid-19. This is because your medical records tell us you are someone with Down’s syndrome.’ My first reaction was to laugh. This was ridiculous. I don’t have Down’s syndrome.

Daily Mail | How your health records could be filled with mistakes

despite decades of trying there has never been a successful, durable vaccine for a coronavirus either….Coronaviruses not only infect people they infect animals.  We have tried to create vaccines for animal husbandry and pet purposes on multiple occasions, and have failed every time to obtain permanent immunity.  We have also wound up creating amplification effects by accident too; the poster child for this one was a feline “vaccine” that actually wound up amplifying the effects of the virus instead of attenuating or preventing infections!  This is why, by the way, that there is no reason whatsoever to believe we will ever have a permanent vaccine; despite attempts in both animals and humans we’ve never succeeded before with this particular type of virus. Now is it entirely possible — even probable — that this specific virus was an accidental release?  Yep.  In fact I’d say it’s more likely than not.  That’s the “civil standard of proof”, and it’s present.  Why?  Because this virus behaves like an attenuated live virus, but not attenuated enough.  For those who think that sort of idea is crazy I remind you that we’ve used that exact concept for decades with oral polio, and it works.  So the theory that this was an accidental release from Wuhan’s lab and they were working on a vaccine for SARS, for example, is not crazy.  The only crazy part is that their odds of success were near zero in the first instance, but scientists try to find breakthroughs in things that appear to have a near-zero probability of success all the time. But a bioweapon?  Nope.  There are plenty of candidate virus families to use for that sort of thing, if you’re into attempting it. Coronavirus isn’t one of them.

Debunking the bioweapon stupidity | Karl Denninger, “The Market Ticker” 15 April 2020

Even if you locked down the nation for 30 days it would do nothing. As soon as you drop the restrictions the virus comes roaring back. You think it won’t?  Yes it will. Exponential math..Your premise is that you lock down and then maintain the “social distancing”. But that, if you do it, still wrecks every restaurant, every bar, and every small business.  It is exactly as destructive.  Every hotel still goes bust.  Every bar.  Every restaurant.  And it doesn’t matter to the outcome because as soon as you drop the constraints the virus will come roaring back. The fact is that you can’t kill the virus. The virus only dies when immunity reaches the point that R0 is suppressed below 1.0.  That is mathematics and there’s not a darned thing you or I can do about it.

The Market Ticker | Karl Denninger 20 March, 2020

Threlkeld added, Williams also had been vaccinated for COVID about a month ago and that testing found the two types of antibodies in his system – one type of antibody that results from a natural COVID infection, and a second type of antibody from the vaccine. Threlkeld also said Williams tested negative for COVID-19 while in the hospital. 

Memphis doctor believed to have died of rare Covid related syndrome | 11 Feb 2021

Coronaviruses are notorious for ADE reactions, where antibody presence potentiates the infection instead of protecting against it.  …The poster child for ADE in coronaviruses was an attempted vaccine for a feline coronavirus that often made cats very sick.  The vaccine killed every one of them in the test when they were later exposed, wildly potentiating the infection. Read that again folks: NOT ONE VACCINATED CAT SURVIVED A CHALLENGE WITH THE ACTUAL VIRUS.

Ordinary vaccines we have lots of experience with, such as measles, the flu shot, mumps and similar do not carry a risk beyond that of natural infection and cannot be weaponized because they produce the exact same antibody response as a natural infection.  If you have had either the measles or the shot you will have antibodies but an antibody test will not tell you which since they’re not distinguishable. I suspected from the start that due to the way these mRNA shots work — they are not actually a vaccine at all in that they do not “mimic” natural infection but rather cause your cells to produce the spike protein that the virus has and that elicits an immune response — that the antibodies produced by those jabs would be distinct and distinguishable from natural infection.

The West’s Obituary | The Market-Ticker 13 Feb 2021

The Wild Geese Howard says:February 20, 2021 at 6:51 pm GMT • Pfizer suddenly announces their vaccine no longer needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures: This is ridiculous…

The Unz Review

One of the current tropes peddled by the government and its rag, tag and bobtail of scientific advisers is ‘don’t kill Granny’. This has led to some beliefs circulating which are that: 1. If Granny is exposed to COVID-19 she will catch it 2. If Granny catches COVID-19 she will automatically die as a matter of course 3. If Granny isolates herself and keeps away from her family and everyone else, she will not only escape COVID-19 but also apparently death itself since the consolation for missing Granny at Xmas is that she is guaranteed to be available for a hug in a year’s time. I thought I’d look into this. … This recent Imperial College article (October 2020) explains that that an IFR for COVID-19 of about 0.1% for under-40s rises to over 5% for the over-80s (it doubles for about every 8 years of life over 40). In other words, of 100 people aged over 80 who catch COVID-19 up to about 6 will die. That’s another way of saying that 94 will survive Covid. That’s both sexes and we know women do slightly better.

The Risk to Granny | Lockdown sceptic 16 Dec 2020

When the pandemic crisis broke, we were all instantly bombarded with figures by scientists and journalists, and almost invariably out of context. They included data that had been measured, and figures that were predicted, most notoriously in the UK the 510,000 prospective deaths put about by Imperial College that played such a large part in the first lockdown. This has carried on remorselessly ever since. It struck me almost immediately right back in March that I had no idea at all what the normal rate of death was in the United Kingdom. Therefore, any statement about deaths from Covid, real or predicted, whether made by a member of SAGE, the Government or a wittering TV journalist, was meaningless to me. Way back then I looked it up on the Office of National Statistics (ONS) website. It’s in the high 1,600s per day which translates into over 600,000 per annum in a normal year (if any year is normal).

Just how high are excess deaths in 2020? | Lockdown sceptics 3 Dec 2020

Speaking of which, a rather unprepared professor who said he did not watch the British Prime Minister’s daily covid briefings because none of the figures presented were given any context, suddenly lost his internet connection:

And for a change of air:

2 countries, 2 men, 2 Jimneys

Feeling cooped up? Check out these 2 vids, 1 in Japan, 1 in UK, both posted last year (and learn what a “Geordie” is). The first one has Japanese subtitles only but you don’t really need them, do you? The title says he’s in his 40s and single. You’d never have guessed, eh?

Reading list 2020

Five stars

Four stars

Three stars

Two stars

Unfinished/gave up

What are girls and boys for?

On reading the quote below, I wondered if high quality teaching and learning can really take place without this question being addressed?

“Well, you’ve come to the right place,” the Under-Secretary assured him. “New Rothamsted is one of our best schools.”

“What’s your criterion of a good school?” Will asked.


“In what? Winning scholarships? Getting ready for jobs? Obeying the local categorical imperatives?”

“All that, of course,” said Mr. Menon. “But the fundamental question remains. What are boys and girls for?”

Will shrugged his shoulders. “The answer depends on where you happen to be domiciled. For example, what are boys and girls for in America? Answer: for mass consumption. And the corollaries of mass consumption are mass communications, mass advertising, mass opiates in the form of television, positive thinking and cigarettes. And now that Europe has made the breakthrough into mass production, what will its boys and girls be for? For mass consumption and all the rest—just like the boys and girls in America. Whereas in Russia there’s a different answer. Boys and girls are for strengthening the national state. Hence all those engineers and science teachers, not to mention fifty divisions ready for instant combat and equipped with everything from tanks to H-bombs and long-range rockets. And in China it’s the same, but a good deal more so. What are boys and girls for there? For cannon fodder, industry fodder, agriculture fodder, road-building fodder. So East is East and West is West— for the moment. But the twain may meet in one or other of two ways. West may get so frightened of East they it will give up thinking that boys and girls are for mass consumption and decide instead that they’re for cannon fodder and strengthening the state. Alternatively East may find itself under such pressure from the appliance-hungry masses who long to go Western, that it will have to change its mind and say that boys and girls are really for mass consumption. But that’s for the future. As of now, the current answers to your question are mutually exclusive.”

“And both of the answers,” said Mr. Menon, “are different from ours. What are Palanese boys and girls for? Neither for mass consumption, nor for strengthening the state. The state has to exist, of course. And there has to be enough for everybody. That goes without saying. It’s only on those conditions that boys and girls can discover what in fact they are for-—only on those conditions that we can do anything about it.”

“And what in fact are they for?”

“For actualization, for being turned into full-blown human beings.”

“Island” by Aldous Huxley (1962).

Soul Biographies

This is something else.

Short, black-and-white interviews. No dialogue. Just monologue. Profoundly moving.

“We Imagine A Profoundly Connected World In Which We See And Experience Ourselves And Others Beyond Judgment.”

Essentially Soul Biographies have been made from a state of acute mindfulness. And are best watched in similar fashion. That is where the experience will find you.

Switch Off The World. Play Full Screen. Use Headphones. Do Not Attempt If Distracted.

Pick a biography. Any one. Watch while undistracted. They’re mostly just a few minutes long. You won’t be bored. They may just change the way you see people. And the way you see yourself.

If you want some background, check out Nic Askew’s TED talks. But really you need no introduction. You can just dive straight in.

The Inner Game program

THE Inner Game refers to the inner dialogue that takes place within a person who is performing or doing some activity where there are standards and expectations (often high), whether one’s own or other people’s.

Much of the time, we’re not aware of it, but we can become aware of it, and once we do… well, then the question becomes what to do about it! Is this dialogue helping or getting in the way of the performance? Who, in fact, is talking? And to whom?

Awareness of one’s own inner dialogue can lead to surprising insights in the form of pleasant experiences, and improved performance.

I’d read Tim Gallwey’s classic “The Inner Game of Tennis” back in the 80’s but did not fully understand the principles and was not able to transfer the concepts and tools in that book to my own professional situation or personal life.

A few years ago, I was given a deeper and interactive introduction to some of those tools in a training partly designed by Tim Gallwey. Since then, I kept an eye open for any chance to take an Inner Game workshop.

Thanks to Covid-19 putting the kibosh on face-to-face workshops, the Inner Game Institute went online. I signed up. And had such a good time I signed up for another one a couple of months later. Both workshops were led by Tim Gallwey and Renato Ricci. It was great to benefit from their energy, wisdom and experience.

The next one is The Inner Game of Sports, two seminars taking place in February and March. Check them out.

For the first time we will have in March our first workshop talking about The Inner Game applied in Sports area. In this event we will bring the experience of Tim Gallwey and the Inner Game applied to sports in the last decades, not only in athletes but also in high performance teams.   This program is aimed at athletes, professionals, practitioners, coaches, sports psychologists, and all those who wish to develop athletes in individual or team sports. You can access all details visiting our website.

I’m now learning to apply what I learned to the learning and teaching of languages.

Evernote slowly improves

IN its latest roll-out, Evernote dropped many features that many users had liked and become accustomed to. Since, Evernote has slowly been restoring some of those lost features.

One such is the ability to encrypt a note or any text inside a note. This option used to be accessed from the “Note” menu, but this has been removed from the latest version. So I complained. And was told it had moved:

Please note that you can encrypt a text using your desktop app by selecting a text and pressing right-click. From the menu, press “Encrypt Select Text” and a prompt asking you to enter a passphrase for the encryption would appear.

Another complaint of mine, that I couldn’t change the default language of the app to English and am stuck with the Japanese one, unfortunately, did not get a satisfactory reply:

I apologize for the inconvenience it is causing, but we haven’t built the change language feature into the new Evernote app. This is one of a handful of features we are still considering. Thanks for letting us know this feature is important to you. I will share this information with our product team.