Inner Tennis – Part 3

In Inner Tennis – Part 1, we talked about general premises of The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey.  He encourages players to achieve a nonjudgmental awareness.  In Part 2, we explored his thoughts on body awareness and focus.  In Part 3, we look at Gallwey’s thoughts on anxiety.


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Gallwey defines anxiety as fear about what may happen in the future, and encourages players to bring their attention to the here and now.  Gallwey accomplishes this by focusing on his breathing between each point.

“After a point has ended and I’m returning to position or going to pick up a ball, I place my mind on my breathing.”

“The second my mind starts wondering about whether I’m going to win or lose the match, I bring it gently back to my breath and relax in its natural and basic motion.”

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Take a mini-break between each point.

Gallwey’s breathing exercises give him a mind break between each point.

“In this way, by the time the next point is ready to start, I am able to be even more concentrated than I was in the midst of the previous one. This technique is not only useful for me in stopping the mind from fretting about bad shots, but keeps me from being self-conscious about unusually good shots.”

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Managing our anxiety by focusing on breath helps us to better play in the present.  Gallwey quotes Phil Jackson, coach of Michael Jordan and the four-time NBA Champions, the Chicago Bulls,  “To excel, you need to act with a clear mind and be totally focused on what everyone on the floor is doing. The secret is not thinking. That doesn’t mean being stupid; it means quieting the endless jabbering of thoughts so that your body can do instinctively what it’s been trained to do without the mind getting in the way. ”

Consultants at Summit Performance Consulting LLC work with tennis players and athletes of all levels to help them improve their mental game.  Learn how you can take your game to the next level by calling us at 561-325-8363 or emailing us at

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