Inner Game of Tennis

The Inner Game of Tennis

The Discovery of two selves: I and Myself

I seems to give instructions; the other, ‘myself’, seems to perform the action.

  • Teller = Self 1
  • Doer = Self 2

The Key to better tennis — or better anything — lies in improving the relationship between: the conscious teller, Self 1,   and the natural abilities of Self 2.

Imagine Self 1 and Self 2 as being two different people.  Self 1 does not trust Self 2, even though it embodies all the potential you have developed up to that moment and is far more competent to control the muscle system than Self 1.

Harmony between Self 1 and Self 2 only exists when the thinking-mind, the ego-mind, is quiet and focused; only then can peak performance be reached.


Self 1 = The Patron

The one giving the orders, always pushing Self 2 to produce and meet deadlines, often interfering with Self 2’s process, thus hastening the process.  Self 1 mustn’t force Self 2, but must respect and acknowledge that the greatness that is created by Self 2 is a result of process.

Self 2 = The Artist

The one who only knows imagery, feeling, and creativity.  Self 2 is the doer, but pushed too hard, Self 2 will clam up.  Negative self-judgments of self 2 usually become self-fulfilling prophecies that can inhibit innate development. 

Self 1 must respect Self 2.

Self 1 creates an image of the desired outcome, and Self 2 finds a way to DO.

Stoicism & Inner Stability

Perhaps the most indispensable tool for human beings in modern times is the ability to remain calm in the midst of rapid and unsettling changes. Inner stability is achieved not by burying one’s head in the sand at the sight of danger, but by acquiring the ability to see the true nature of what is happening to to respond appropriately. Aurelius — think clearly, act accordingly, accept the world as it is and move on.


The cause of most stress can be summed up by the word attachment. Self 1 gets so dependent upon things, situations, people and concepts within its experience that when change occurs or seems about to occur, it feels threatened. Freedom from stress does not necessarily involve giving up anything, but rather being able to let go or anything, when necessary, and know that one will still be all right. It comes from being more independent — not necessarily more solitary, but reliant on one’s own inner resources for stability.


Focus of attention in the present moment, the only one you can really live in, is at the heart of the art of doing anything well. Focus means not dwelling on the past, either on mistakes or glories; it means not being so caught up in the future, either its fears or its dreams, that my full attention is taken from the present. The ability to focus the mind is the ability to not let it run away with you. It does not mean not to think — but to be the one who directs your own thinking. Focusing can be practiced on a tennis court, chopping carrots, in a pressure-packed board meeting or while driving in traffic. It can be practiced alone or in conversation. It takes as much trust to fully focus attention when listening to another person without carrying on a side conversation in your own head as it does to watch a tennis ball in all its detail, without listening to Self 1’s worries, hopes and instructions