Can Tennis Help in Business?

Every week I tie up my shoes, slap on some sunscreen and put myself out there for another tennis match. I love it, because it makes me think, sweat, like and hate myself at times. But are the tennis skills I have translatable to my professional life? The more I thought about it, I realized there are ways to adapt these sports lessons toward business or business practices.

Put in practice time – Training isn’t fun. It is a pain. Practice your pitch. Hone your skills. Bounce ideas off colleagues.

Know your competitor – Research what they are not doing or are not willing to do. Identify the hole and send the ball sailing through it.

Keep moving on the court – Be agile or you will lose the point. Business goals evolve and change over time.

Be strategic – It’s difficult to play tennis aimlessly and win. Good players have a thoughtful strategy. Few people are good at “winging it.” Having a plan is always better.

Serve well – Those who serve well, win.  You also bring two options when you serve. If I take one ball to the line and fault on my serve, I will have to scramble to find another ball. The same is true with clients. If I have only one option and it is not the right fit, then I am lost.

Anticipate – Just when you think you’re in control of the point, your opponent can tap the ball over the net and you lose. Never count the point before it is won. Same in business. Don’t assume any outcome.

Use a coach – Great players rarely get there alone. Having someone to turn to when you need extra help is important. Cultivate a mentorship. Going without this coach-figure in business can limit your growth and cause you to make mistakes that you might have avoided with a mentor’s guidance.

Which sports do you think translate to success in business?


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