Inner Tennis – Part 1

I recently read The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey.  It is a classic book about the mental game of tennis.

tennis ball by line

What is the inner game?

In the beginning of the book, Gallwey expains it as being similar to being in the zone.

“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.”

“In short, “getting it together” requires slowing the mind. Quieting the mind means less thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling, jittering or distracting.”

tennis serve

Nonjudgmental Awareness

The first skill we need to play the inner came is nonjudgmental awareness.  This means that we must let go of inclination to judge ourselves or our performance as good or bad.

Gallwey reminds the reader that  “letting go of judgments does not mean ignoring errors. It means simply seeing events as they are and not adding anything to them.”

It is tough to let go of judgment in tennis.  But Gallwey points out that the judgment can interfere with our learning.  “It is not helpful to condemn our present behavior patterns—in this case our present imperfect strokes—as ‘bad’; it is helpful to see what function these habits are serving, so that if we learn a better way to achieve the same end, we can do so.”

youth sports tennis boy


When learning, tennis, Gallwey suggests the following four steps:

STEP 1   Observe Existing Behavior Nonjudgmentally

STEP 2   Picture Desired Outcome.  No commands are used.

STEP 3   Let It Happen!

STEP 4   Nonjudgmental, Calm Observation of the Results Leading to Continuing Observation and Learning

Summit Performance Consulting LLC recommends working with a professional when starting tennis or any exercise program.  To learn more about how you can improve your tennis game, call us at 561-325-8363 or email us at

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