Physically demanding sports such as tennis and basketball have a lot in common with skills such as playing the piano. In addition to physical training, mastering these activities requires developing mental and emotional talents as well.
Drawing on his own experiences, Dan Millman, in this revised and updated edition of The Inner Athlete, offers a regimen to integrate physical training with psychological growth. He examines the motivations for athletic excellence and offers a transformative guide to success that is as applicable in everyday life as it is in sports.
The book has 166 pages of content and can be divided into three main parts. The first part is fairly abstract, Millman calls it "Understanding the Larger Game". The first chapter is about natural laws that Millman sees as being helpful to understand; the next has to do with bringing awareness to our activities as a way to see what we are doing wrong, what we are doing right, and then learning from our mistakes; last chapter of part 1 is about preparation, about slow and steady progress. Personally, having read alot of self help and mind body I didn't really find this first part very helpful. The second part and the first chapter of the third part are, to me, the meat and bones of the book, where the concrete content is. He has chapters on Mental, Emotional, and Physical talent and how to cultivate all three. He talks about the self concept, fear of failure, about breathing, and then about strength, suppleness, stamina, and sensitivity. Then there is a chapter with specific advice for working on skills, like hitting a golf ball or diving or gymnastics. The third part of the book criticizes the focus on results and urges more focus on focus, concentration and personal growth and the last chapter is about new sports, less competitive, that Millman sees developing in the future. Again, this part is more abstract and it is very normative, criticizing competition, though he does recognize that it can bring out the best in people, and then naming some new sports he sees as good developments. He also suggests requiring athletes in asymettrical sports such as golf, tennis, bowling and baseball to "use both arms equally" (pg 143). I found that a little annoying and I also didn't really see it as having a place in this book. Overall, there are a bunch of good points in here, it is clear that Millman understands how to pursue excellence and growth, but I felt the book was a bit unfocused and there was nothing really new for someone who has done some reading in this area.
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