The use of the tensor virial theorem (TVT) as a diagnostic of anisotropic velocity distributions in galaxies is revisited. The TVT provides a rigorous global link between velocity anisotropy, rotation and shape, but the quantities appearing in it are not easily estimated observationally. Traditionally, use has been made of a centrally averaged velocity dispersion and the peak rotation velocity. Although this procedure cannot be rigorously justified, tests on model galaxies show that it works surprisingly well. With the advent of integral-field spectroscopy it is now possible to establish a rigorous connection between the TVT and observations. The TVT is reformulated in terms of sky-averages, and the new formulation is tested on model galaxies.