Thoughts about Ping Pong

Ping Pong, philosophy and Buddhism

Ping Pong is more than just a popular sport. By playing ping pong, you can practice living in accordance with Buddhistic and philosophical values.

By David Jason Lou

Ping Pong is one of the most popular sports in the world. It is not only full of fun, but it also significantly improves both your physical and mental health. Most people know how to play, but stay at a low level in their game for a long time. They complain that Ping Pong is a difficult sport to progress in, so I will tell you the basics for how to improve. 

David Jason Lou (right) has played and taught Ping Pong for many years, and knows about the game’s practical aspects as well as its philosophical and Buddhistic applications. Photo: Anna Emy.

David Jason Lou (right) has played and taught Ping Pong for many years, and knows about the game’s practical aspects as well as its philosophical and Buddhistic applications. Photo: Anna Emy.

1.    Get the knowledge needed by watching a match, especially one involving a top player. This knowledge is very important. Some people play the game for many years without ever improving their level. One of the critical reasons for this is that they don’t accumulate the necessary knowledge and perspective of the game which is needed to succeed. 

The trick is to ask yourself after each match: Why did I won or lose? What are your opponent’s advantages, in which way do you need to improve, and how can you do it? 

By answering these questions, you look deeply into the Ping-Pong skills and extend your knowledge. This can come from an expert’s advice or even from something as simple as researching or watching videos of other professionals. 

2.    Practice your knowledge. Once you get the necessary skill sets, the next step is to practice it in the process of training or a match. You learn by giving a maximum of effort in training, and if you do so constantly, you will finally get the skills which are needed. Once you improve your ability level and win over your opponent, you will really enjoy the process. Remember that practice always needs to go hand in hand with knowledge.


Ping Pong & Philosophy  

Are you crazy? These are two things that are far away from each other! Well, it may look like that on the surface, but if you dig deeper then you’ll find out that there are many great philosophical aspects of Ping Pong. 

But let me tell you something: You always need tough rivals. No one likes to lose a match, so no one likes tough rivals by nature. But talking from my many years of experience, this is the most important way to get progress in your level! 

If you always lose to a tough rival, it means that he is stronger than you. You then need to calm down and analyze the reason for this by asking yourself these questions: Why do I always lose to him? What gives him his advantage? What is the best way to overcome his advantage? And how can I also get his advantage? 

To arrive at the right conclusion to these questions, you need to train with the intention to improve your skills. Once you get these skills, maybe you become stronger than the rival, and now is the time to beat him! After you defeat the rival to who you lost to before, it means you have achieved great progress already. 

This process is incredible, exciting and enjoyable, and also means you need to find another rival that is better than you in order to progress even further. It is really like climbing a mountain; the most beautiful scenery always is close to the peak, but you need to overcome so much difficulty to get there! 

You always need to be appreciative of your rivals and pay respect to those who have defeated you. This way, you can best find out your own disadvantages and improve on them. It is like polishing a diamond in the rough. A tough life does make a man become stronger, that is much of the philosophy behind Ping Pong. 

Ping Pong & Buddhism

Now let’s go a bit deeper. I am talking about another big philosophical aspect of Ping-Pong: Buddhism. Buddhism always talks about living in the present moment, enjoying the bliss of the presence, and these ideas are confirmed by Ping Pong. 

All points in the game of Ping Pong are decided by about 1/10 of a second. When the paddle touches the ball, it almost reaches the limits of speed in which humans can comprehend. How can you react in so little time? The secret is focus! 

You need to empty your mind. No matter what happened before and what will happen later, the only way to win the point is to focus on this moment. You need 100% focus or you will lose the point. Once the point is lost, then it becomes history and you can never change it, so the only way to win the match is to just focus on the moment and your maximum ability to win the single point. 

It sounds simple, but it is very difficult for most people. They always regret losing the last point and worry about the next point, forgetting to focus on the present point. That might be the reason they will have lost the whole match. It is the same as life, if you don’t focus on the moment you live in, then one’s whole life will be lost as well! 

And we can learn even more from it: Where is the fun or happiness coming from in the match? It comes from the positive action you make in that moment, there are always positive and negative actions in any given moment in a Ping Pong match. You should always strive to make positive decisions to win the point, and no matter whether you loose or win the point, at least you have tried your best in that moment. It creates so much fun and makes you very happy! 

I have played many, many years of Ping Pong and learned so many things from it. Even here, I am just speaking about a little of my experiences which I am sharing with you, and I hope you can get something. 


The last thing I would like to say is that you can always find somebody better than you in Ping Pong. No matter if you win or lose, the more you play it then the more you will enjoy it!

Ping Pong has always been one of the most popular activities in Trampoline House. Photo: Anna Emy.

Ping Pong has always been one of the most popular activities in Trampoline House. Photo: Anna Emy.

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