Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Tim Gallwey, fully W. Timothy Gallwey

American Author and Sports Psychology Expert, best known for Inner Game series of books

"Winning is overcoming obstacles to reach a goal, but the value in winning is only as great as the value of the goal reached."

"The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills; he discovers a true basis for self-confidence; and he learns that the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard. He aims at the kind of spontaneous performance which occurs only when the mind is calm and seems at one with the body, which finds its own surprising ways to surpass its own limits again and again."

"When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as "rootless and stemless." We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don't condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is."

"Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them."

"Both Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King used these phrases ("playing out of one's mind," or "over one's head") to describe their performances while winning the finals at Wimbledon in 1975. . . . The player loses himself in the action, continually breaking the false limits placed on is potential. Awareness becomes acutely heightened, while analysis, anxiety and self-conscious thought are completely forgotten. Enjoyment is at a peak - pure and unspoiled."

"The greatest efforts in sports came when the mind is as still as a glass lake."

"Before you try to change something, increase your awareness of it."

"The game ends up playing the person rather than the other way around. There are two reasons: Success in the Inner Game is very often the deciding factor between success in your outer game and failure. Second the Inner Game is a fascinating game in its own right—and the only game that can be ‘applied’ to all other games."

"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. There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure in the outer game."

"Giving ourselves permission to fail sidesteps any concern we might otherwise feel about performance. It allows us to stop trying. When we allow this, we don’t fail. It releases us from the fear of failure."

"There is no need to fight old habits. Start new ones. It is the resisting of an old habit that puts you in that trench."

"Letting go of the judging process is a basic key to the Inner Game. . . . When we unlearn how to be judgmental, it is possible to achieve spontaneous, focused play."

"The experiences which we call mistakes are actually valuable feedback which our bodies need in order to discriminate between what works for us and what doesn’t and to make the appropriate corrections. What we need to eliminate is not the mistakes themselves, but our fear of making them and the consequent judgments, criticisms, and anger. Accepting errors we make less of them. Such self-judgment distorts perception, interferes with performance."

"Focus is the quintessential component of superior performance in every activity, no matter what the level of skill or the age of the performer. We do our best when we are focused."

"It is more a function of your motivations being lined up behind what you are doing. Interest, motivation, and choice all have a great deal to do with one’s ability to focus deeply and to sustain that focus over long periods of time."

"If I can have the courage to acknowledge my desire as it exists, without necessarily knowing how to fulfill it, mobility can start."

"Awareness is experiencing something directly; thinking is to conceptualize about what we are experiencing. The more we think about an experience, the less aware we become of the experience itself. As thinking increases, awareness decreases."

"Coaching is an art that must be learned mostly from experience. In the Inner Game approach, coaching is ‘the facilitation of mobility.’ It is the art of creating an environment through conversation, and a way of being, that facilitates the process by which a person can move toward desired goals in a fulfilling manner. It requires one essential ingredient that cannot be taught: Caring not only for the external results but for the person being coached."

"Coaching is eavesdropping in on someone’s thinking process. The most important part of the job of a coach is to listen well. Effective coaching in the workplace holds a mirror up for clients, so they can see their own thinking process. As a coach, I am not listening for the content of what is being said as much as I am listening to the way they are thinking, including how their attention is focused and how they define the key elements of the situation."

"It is essential to the Inner Game of Coaching that the coach try to see from the point of view of the person being coached. By learning to listen to the client non-judgmentally, the coach learns the most important elements of the craft. Learning to ask questions that help clients reveal more and more to themselves is a natural outcome of such listening. The coach’s questions are geared to finding out information not for the purpose of recommending solutions, but for the purpose of helping clients think for themselves and find their own solutions. Ideally, the end of every coaching conversation is that the client leaves feeling more capable of mobility."

"The short answer is that a valid instruction derived from experience can help me if it guides me to my own experiential discovery . . . I believe the best use of technical knowledge is to communicate a hint toward a desired destination. The hint can be delivered verbally or demonstrated in action, but it is best seen as an approximation of a desired goal to be discovered by paying attention . . . and feelings one’s way toward what works for that individual."

"Once our judgmental mind establishes a self-identity based on its negative judgments, the role-playing continues to hide the true potential of Self 2 until the hypnotic spell is broken. In short, you start to become what you think."

"When asked to give up making judgments about one’s game, the judgmental mind usually protests, ‘But if I can’t hit a backhand inside the court to save my life, do you expect me to ignore my faults and pretend my game is fine?’ Be clear of this: letting go of judgments does not mean ignoring errors. It simply means seeing events as they are and not adding anything to them."

"When a player succeeds in forgetting himself and really acts out his assumed role, remarkable changes in his game often takes place."

"When you know a lot, it’s all too easy to start teaching. But coaching is about helping him discover what he already knows, or can find out for himself. Teaching takes a long time and is about imparting knowledge. Coaching can be viewed not so much as a process of adding as it is a process of subtracting, or unlearning whatever is getting in the way of movement toward the client’s desired goal."

"Learning is retarded in conditions of high anxiety and low acceptance. For most tasks, people have the intellectual knowledge to perform well; they just have a hard time acting on what they know."