The spiritual similarities between playing music and table tennis

Posted on Tue 24 March 2020 in music, table tennis, meta

As a fellow table tennis player and piano player, I have noticed some interesting spiritual similarities between the two arts. I'm pretty sure they are also common to other sports anyway.

Always think ahead: the next stroke, the next note

In table tennis, one should not think about scoring a point with the current stroke, but rather be prepared for the next. What ball will I get back given my current playing? What do I expect? How am I going to handle it? If we do not think ahead, we will always fall short when the ball comes back, we will not be prepared. In a similar fashion, when playing an instrument, it is vital to know what the next note will be, what the next musical phrase will be. Giving meaning to a speech is impossible if we do not know how it goes on beyond the very current moment.

Mistakes do not matter. If you make them matter, you lose

It is a common phenomenon to make a mistake followed by more mistakes, mostly in the attempt of correcting that mistake/with the case of overthinking the mistake that has already happened. It does happen to make the wrong choice when playing table tennis, or to not get our best stroke, as much as getting a note wrong. This is not a problem as long as we are able to go on and forget that single mistake. Instead, if we focus on that, we end up stressing it and it becomes much heavier.

Realize there is a talk going on

Music and table tennis are both languages, they allow to build a speech and to have a dialogue/conversation. It is important to realize there is a meaningful content being carried, that the individual strokes as well as notes do group together to make cohesive clusters. This completely changes our way of playing, both sports and music.