At face value, ping pong can seem like nothing more than a fun game that tests your hand-eye coordination. But it can also help develop your strategic thinking.
Although surprising, you can apply many of these lessons to business. I find overlaps all over the place. Here are some of the top business lessons from ping pong:
1. You can’t just think one shot ahead. You have to have an overarching plan. ping pong relies heavily on tactical thinking, and you must think many steps ahead. Tunnel vision is a killer. The same applies to business. You need a long-term plan and should predict trends in the market that you can take advantage of.
2. React quickly without hesitation. ping pong is incredibly fast-paced, and often if you predict a certain kind of shot, you may receive a different one altogether. You need to be quick on your feet and adaptable.
3. To improve, you need to train regularly. As with all things, you should always seek development to become better tomorrow than you were today. This requires investing regular portions of your time. If you don’t, your ability will plateau or even recede.
4. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Even the top players have areas they favor and those they don’t. And to play at the best level, you need thorough awareness of where you are strong and where you are weak. This enables you to devote more training to your weak areas. It can also help you formulate a game plan to lean on your strengths as much as possible.
5. Take calculated risks. Fortune favors the bold… to an extent. Take risks, but only if they are calculated. Playing a risky shot in a rally that you are dominating is a bad idea, yet a risky table-turner is a great choice if you feel a point is all but lost.
6. Accept that mistakes are part of the game. Even when you perform unusually well, mistakes will still be plentiful, and that’s okay. You should be happy with your performance if your successes outweigh your failures. Yet even if mistakes dominate, don’t let them mess with your head too much. Everyone has off days, and you’ll likely be back in better shape next time.
7. Fairness makes games more enjoyable. While performing against players who are much better than you is a great way to improve, it often leads to frustration. No one likes to be beat handily, and this will happen if you play strong opponents. Similarly, in business, you want to find a market that you can compete in. It won’t be pretty if you aim higher than your budget and experience will allow.
8. The power of teamwork. Having a strong connection with fellow teammates helps the entire team to improve. You learn more about the ways that each of you plays and how to synergize. This is most apparent in doubles. A strong partnership here can overcome more talented opponents who do not work cohesively. This demonstrates the necessity for effective teamwork and communication in business. It not only develops a healthier office environment but also boosts productivity.
9. Identify weak areas you can exploit. In business, you should actively seek opportunities you can take advantage of; the same applies to ping pong. From the moment you start rallying with an opponent, you should analyze their performance for flaws. Everyone has them. You just need a keen eye and the right shots to expose their weaknesses.
10. Body language is very telling. A player who is driven to win appears focused and commits to every ball. On the other hand, a player lacking motivation has poor posture and appears dissatisfied. Identifying these qualities is key in business. Only after recognizing a deflated employee can you help to improve their outlook.
11. A little bit of coaching goes a long way. While we are quick to critique ourselves, it’s hard to identify all of our flaws. It’s much easier to see flaws in the performance of others. Therefore just a small piece of coaching advice can go a long way to helping someone else. Similarly, do not take advice from others for granted. They are likely seeing something that you can’t.
I hope this demonstrates that you can learn a lot about business from playing a game such as ping pong. I recommend you give it a go and see which comparisons you can draw. You may well make connections that I didn’t experience! Ping Pong Ruler is the perfect place to get started for all of your ping pong needs. From techniques to equipment reviews, it is the number one source of online ping pong information.
Photo by Lisa Keffer on Unsplash