• The Inner Game of Tennis is ostensibly about tennis, but the analysis can extend to any challenge.
  • I found that it has applicability to parenting, since parenting is a related form of coaching.
  • The inner game take place in the mind of the person and has challenges related to concentration, doubt and nervousness.
  • Winning the inner game brings greater satisfaction in life and can be divorced from the outcome of the outer game.

Judging Yourself: Self 1, The Conscious Self

  • The initial act of judgment provokes and initiates the thinking process. The goal is to work towards non-judgmental observations of oneself.
  • A rose goes through phases: seed, stem, thorns, blooms, etc. It is not criticized along the phases. This is the same as your growth. The errors we make are a part of the development process. See 'the rose as it is', absent of judgment.
  • We are often uncomfortable without a standard of right and wrong, so we actively search for the right answer, even if there is not 'right'.
  • An event that is judged as positive can also have the potential to be judged as negative. Hence, praise can be counterproductive because it puts you on the lookout for the negative.

Observation And Practicing: Training Self 1 To Let Go

  • Treat Self 2 (subconscious self) with humility and respect, look up to its ability. Self 2 responds to clear visuals, rather than verbal, explicit instructions.
  • Try something with and without intention and observe the difference. Changes occur by the simple act of observation.
  • Sometimes we simply play the role we think we are and it is self-fulfilling (“I am bad at this”, “I am depressed”). Try intentionally acting a different role - a superstar in a movie, a pro tennis player on tour. Walk like him, talk like him… Thus, become more aware of your range rather than being confined to the narrow world view of yourself and fulfilling that role only.
  • Learn how to observe and discover from experience - this alone can supersede or replace technical instruction. Watch without the preconceived notion that there is a right way or wrong way - be critical and curious.
  • Focus is not achieved by staring at something - a natural curiosity/interest is required. Part of the process of achieving a concentrated mind is dealing with the conflict of being interested in “other things”.


  • Need some level of physical play because learning is a discovery process from inside out, not outside in. Instruction is helpful in guiding your own discovery, but it is always inside out.
  • Games people play: Composed of Perfect-o (impossible, moving target of perfection), Compete-o (beating someone), Image-o (looking good).
  • Competition should be honored and embraced, not avoided because it is how the better self emerges. The latent capacities within only come out in the face of challenge. True competition is cooperation. Beg for the serve to fall in bounds rather than opponent double faulting.
  • In contrast, competition that is used to determine self worth, then one’s greatest fears and insecurities bubble to the top.
  • Feeling from beating someone is really a reflection of self: if you think your opponent’s self worth is diminished, then you must also believe that yourself worth increases.