Six Business Lessons I Learned From Tennis

For tennis players in New York City August doesn’t mean summer is coming to an end, instead we’re excited that the U.S. Open is just around the corner.

As someone who has played unprofessionally (unless you count high school) all his life, it’s fair to say many of the lessons gained from learning how to play tennis have been just as, if not more important, when it comes to business. Now that GHR Communications is fully up and running I’ve been putting them to even more use, and frankly, it’s really nice. So here you go.

1. Keep your eye on the ball

This is probably the most obvious one, but also key. When a small yellow object is coming at you around 60 to 80 miles per hour you better not look away, even when it’s on the other side of the net, or you’ll miss it. Same goes for running a businesses. If you take your eye off that presentation, email , or excel spreadsheet you’re working on, chances are a mistake will be made. So concentrate on what’s coming at you in order to do your best work.

2. Remember your form

There is a certain way to hit a forehand, backhand, and a shot at the net. Do it the wrong way and the ball will go into the net or over in a way that gives your opponent the edge. In my case there’s a certain way to write an op-ed, press release, or pitch a reporter. For others it may be plugging in the right formula or using the right font and color for a presentation. Completing tasks in a constructive, formal way, is more efficient and consistent, making a big difference in your overall performance.

3. Know your strengths

My backhand has always been pretty good, can usually place my serve where I want it to go and can get to balls quickly. But my net game could certainly be better and overall don’t hit the hardest. Knowing this though helps me understand what I need to do to win, and I make my game plan around it.

Figuring what your best skills are – whether it’s writing, math, sales, or creating designs – will allow you to promote what you do best and participate in office settings that allows you to help the team.

4. Anticipate where your opponent will be

If you hit the ball to the right side you know your opponent isn’t going to be on the left; if your opponent hit back a short shot from the net, there’s plenty of room you can use behind him to lob or pass him while he’s still too close up front. These may seem obvious but thinking this way will help you win more points.

In every industry there’s always competition, but at the same time there’s only a certain number of moves those who you are trying to sell or looking to buy or trade a stock in the same industry can do. Even a designer can only do so many things so they don’t turn away a potential customer. Anticipating what your competitors in the same industry will do allows you to make your next move and get ahead.

5. You can still win the set even if you don’t win the majority of points

It sucks losing a long, hard fought, point. You may not have even done anything wrong, the ball just didn’t bounce your way. Just remember that it was only one point! The goal is to win the set and one point isn’t the end of it, and there have been many times where a player who actually lost more points wound up winning the set.

So next time you make a mistake on a presentation or that client who you were hoping to sign goes somewhere else, remember that there will be plenty of other times you can make up for it.

6. Make in-game adjustments

When you see your opponent is frequently coming into the net, serving to your backhand or hitting short shots, you have to make adjustments so their strategy won’t work.

Same goes for how you manage your business. By observing what your competition is doing, you can also make adjustments to how you operate or what you offer so you do not fall behind.

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