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: