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The Inner Game of Tennis: It's Not About the Racquet

Ron Passfield

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Amazon has more than 300 reviews of Lance Armstrong's autobiography, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. The reviewers consistently agree that this book is highly inspirational and full of hope.

There are too many messages and lessons in the book to cover them all in this article. However, there are three key strategies that are of particular relevance to the inner game of tennis. In essence, they can be captured by the statement, It's not about the racquet.

The three key strategies are:

1. Do not let others limit your goals or your dreams

When Lance Armstrong was recovering from brain surgery and aggressive chemotherapy, there were many people who said that he would never ride again. Even one of his key sponsors dropped Lance because he believed that he could never recover from the devastation of cancer and the related treatment.

Lance refused to let others define his capacities or limit his goals and dreams. He was determined to not only ride again but to win the gruelling Tour de France for his first time. Lance Armstrong went on to win the Tour de France seven times!

Even when he was emaciated, exhausted and depleted, he still maintained his goals and dream. So the first strategy is to maintain your goals and dreams even in the face of opposition from well-meaning people.

2. Dig deep into your inner resources

Lance maintains that the key learning for him from his illness and survival is that we are better than we know. We totally underestimate our inner reserves and unrealized capacities because we do not test the power of our minds. It is often only in a crisis that these inner capacities emerge.

One key strategy of the inner game of tennis is to learn to dig deep into our inner resources and tap our unrealised potential. This requires will power, determination and a preparedness to win against all odds. Lance survived his cancer even though the doctors estimated that he had a 3% chance of survival, not great odds!

Here is another pertinent example. The press, globally and locally, decided at the start of the 2007 Australian Open Tennis Championship that Serena Williams had no chance of winning because she was overweight and unfit. They did not allow for her basic underlying fitness or her capacity to tap her incredible inner reserves. Her will power was so strong that her opponents often wilted in the face of her sheer determination even when they were leading in the match.

Hence, the second key strategy is to learn to tap your inner reserves by challenging the limits you impose on yourself.

3. Make every obstacle an opportunity

Lance Armstrong attributes this strategy to his mother who continuously reminded him, even as a child, that in every obstacle lay an opportunity to improve himself. In an interview after his first Tour de France win Lance stated that his illness created the opportunity to improve himself on many fronts. He claimed that his battle with cancer enabled him to become tougher and more patient as a competitive cyclist and more thoughtful, compassionate and responsible as a person, a father and life partner.

Hence, a third key strategy of the inner game of tennis is to improve your game and yourself through every obstacle you encounter.

The inner game of tennis is not about the racquet. It IS about YOU. It is about how you define your capacities and maintain your goals, how you access your inner resources and how you use obstacles to improve yourself and your tennis game.

Ron Passfield, PhD, developed his tennis mind game over 30 years of competitive tennis. For more resources on the inner game of tennis, review Ron’s website:

Ron’s other major interest is affiliate marketing. Visit Ron’s blog, Affiliate Marketing Coach, for resources and tips on affiliate marketing:


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