I’ve recently been getting really into table tennis, a sport I’ve played for most of my life, but never seriously. My father taught me when I was just tall enough to reach the table, and I was hooked ever since.
As I began to study table tennis (or more casually, ping pong) in depth, I realized it’s one of the best sports for hackers. Here’s why.
1. Table tennis is easy to install in any office
Just order a table, some balls, and few paddles and you’re in business. No complicated setup is necessary.
2. Table tennis exercises the brain
A simple game of table tennis works wonders for the reflexes and brain. The ball moves fast, and studies have shown that the game keeps your brain sharp. It’s also especially refreshing to play a fast reaction after a complex coding session, and can get your mind to drift off of a problem long enough to work out the solution.
3. Table tennis is strategy
Table tennis is one of the few sports that has a wide variety of play styles. Just like programmers have various languages to choose from, there is a multitude of table tennis playing styles. And, just like programming languages, these styles are continuously evolving. Throughout the decades, many styles of play have had their moment in the limelight.
It’s really up to you how you’d like to play. Maybe you’re an aggressive player that uses the handshake grip. Or, maybe you’re an attacker that uses the Japanese penhold grip, utilizing extremely fast footwork. Or, maybe you’re a defensive lobber (a rare type, but perhaps you program in Haskell? Don’t think lobbing works? Witness the power of the lob below.)
There really is an essence of “hacking” in table tennis as well. Each style has particular strengths and weaknesses. Much of the challenge is to discover your opponents’ weaknesses and change the way you play to exploit them.
4. Table tennis doesn’t require you to be in super tip-top shape, but it’ll get you in shape
Table tennis is an easy sport to pick up (but as the cliche goes: very difficult to master). Most importantly, for casual games, you don’t need to be super athletic to play. This encourages everybody in the office to get involved, no matter how fit your are.
On the flip side, the game does offer the rare chance for many hackers to exercise during the day. A game is ideal for any hacker who has been sitting in a chair for the past 4 hours. Get up and move around. A healthy hacker is a productive hacker.
5. Table tennis is social
A game of table tennis encourages conversations, especially if you play doubles. It’s a good way to get the team together and participate in something fun and interactive after a day of staring at a lifeless screen.
6. It’s just damn fun.
Go out there and get a table, review the rules, and start playing. Trust me, it’ll boost productivity.