Home  »  Top table tennis players   »  

About China National Table Tennis Men Team

The Chinese National Table Tennis Men Team, for many ordinary table tennis players people, is a dominant team. The dream team in the table tennis world. For the Chinese head coach, Liu Guoliang, it’s the ‘Iron Army’. It’s a team that needs to be urged on, go through the mills and rejuvenate by young athletes.

But there are many secrets, the behind-the-scene of the China Men Team.  What are they?


Welcome back to PingSunday, the best place to learn table tennis. Today, I want to present to you, an amazing table tennis documentary “The King Never Gives Up – Part 1 (Men Team)”.

With the permission of An Kang (安康), the editor of Tencent Sports, I would like to introduce this documentary. This film is also presented at the Beijing Sports Cinema Festival 2019.

Watching throughout this film, you will understand how competitive table tennis is, especially in China. High-level athletes fight hard to survive at a competitive level.

Understand How Chinese players prepare for important tournaments by this documentary
Understand How Chinese players prepare for important tournaments by this documentary

You will also understand how Chinese National coaches prepared for the World Table Tennis Championships, the most important event in table tennis, just after the Olympics. There are many good players in China, to get the ticket to participate in the World Championship, they need to fight in the internal tournament. This tournament is called the “Marvellous 12” – the toughest table tennis tournament on the planet.

They will fight each other, including the best players, the World Champion, the black horse, and the 2 Grand Slams in table tennis. Finally, only 2 tickets for the best. March 2017, Chinese Trials for 2017 Dusseldorf WTTC is organized. Tencent Sports documentary team has recorded the story of the Chinese National Table Tennis Team on and off the stage (behind the scenes).

Lin Gaoyuan the next generation of China Team
Lin Gaoyuan the next generation of China Team?

Hope you enjoy this wonderful documentary.


The King Never Gives Up - Part 1

Watch this video.

How China prepares for the most important tournaments

For Chinese table tennis coaches, international tournaments are very important. So they need to choose the best players from the pool.

That’s why the head coach Liu Guoliang returns for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Liu Guoliang - the head coach who leads China Team to many victory
Liu Guoliang – the head coach who leads China Team to many victories

And to the team members, this is heaven as well as the battlefield.


Chinese Table Tennis Coaches Staff member

Position Name Responsible for specific players
Team manager  Huang Biao NaN
Head coach Liu Guoliang Ma Long, Zhang Jike
Men’s team head coach Qin Zhijian Xu Xin, Ma Long
Women’s team head coach  Kong Linghui Ding Ning, Chen Meng
Men’s second-team coach  Liu Zhiqiang Fang Bo, Wang Chuqin, Liang Jingkun
Women’s second team coach  Yan Sen

Coach Xiao Zhan said to Fang Bo:

(You cannot say you are not capable of doing that. You should face the challenge.)

Chinese coach asked Fang Bo to face the challenge
Chinese coach asked Fang Bo to face the challenge

Every player is under pressure.

Go all out. Every match is a final.

For many of us, we just see the achievement of the best Chinese players. I will reveal the untold side of the table tennis world. And you will understand the true reason for the dominance of Chinese table tennis.

To prepare for the most important tournaments, Chinese coaching staff always organize the “internal competition” or a closed training period. This time, 3 weeks to go to the 2017 Dusseldorf WTTC, China Team will organize the internal competition, called the “Chinese Trials”.

About the Chinese Trials internal competition

The Chinese trials competition is the most intense moment for the Chinese national table tennis team members.

These trials will determine the destiny of many table tennis athletes. The Chinese Trials have been held since 2006.

Chinese closed training is the intense training
Chinese closed training is intense training

It is known for its ever-changing rules and intense competitions.

Every change of the rules, to demand on the athletes’ speed of getting into the zone and their ability in adjusting their mentality, competitiveness, and physical fitness.

Ma Long warms up
Ma Long warms up

Here is the list of current Chinese table tennis players (Men Team): *Note: Playing hand = R (Right), L (Left).

Grip Style = S (shakehand), P (Penhold).

Names Playing for Playing hand Grip Style
Ma Long Beijing R S
Fan Zhendong PLA R S
Xu Xin Shanghai L P
Zhang Jike Shandong R S
Fang Bo Shandong R S
Yan An Beijing R S
Zhou Yu PLA L S
Shang Kun Shanghai L S
Lin Gaoyuan Guangdong L S
Hou Yingchao ^ Beijing R S
Xu Haidong Liaoning R P
Yu Heyi Henan R S
Yang Shuo Liaoning R S
Xu Yingbin Heilongjiang R S
Zhu Cheng Jiangsu L S
Song Xu PLA L S
Fang Yinchi Liaoning R S
Zhou Kai PLA R S
Zhao Zhaoyan PLA L S
Wang Chuqin Beijing L S
Cao Wei Beijing L S
Yuan Licen Liaoning L S
Yu Zhengyang Jiangsu R S
Li Duo Jiangsu R S
Yu Ziyang Heilongjiang L S
Lü Xiang Zhejiang L S
Lai Jiaxin Sichuan R S
Ren Hao Henan R S
Liu Dingshuo Shandong R S
Zhou Qihao Guangdong R S
Xue Fei Hubei R P
Fan Shengpeng Hebei R P
Zheng Peifeng Fujian R P
Wu Hao Shandong L S
Liu Jikang Liaoning R S
Zhu Linfeng Sichuan L S
Liu Yi Hebei L S
Cui Qinglei Hebei R S
Kong Lingxuan Shandong L S
Ma Te Tianjin R S
Chen Xin Fujian R S
Zhang Yudong Jiangsu R S
Zhao Zihao Shanghai R P
Cheng Jingqi Hebei L S
Yan Sheng Sichuan R P
Li Yijie Guangdong R S
Peng Feilong Shanghai R S
Wang Kai Zhejiang R S
Guo Wen Shandong R S
Xu Chenhao PLA R S
Wei Shihao Shandong L S
Hao Shuai Tianjin L S
Ji Jiale Beijing R S
Quan Kaiyuan Liaoning R S
Geng Zihao Henan L P

Chinese Trial in 2006:

In 2006, the first Chinese Trials for Bremen WTTC, the 6-point rule was applied which was 5 points fewer than that of the international practice.

Chinese Trial in 2009:

In 2009, 3rd Chinese Trials for Yokohama WTTC, there was the 4-point game, scores were flipped to 9 points once the score reached 4 points so matches were skipped to its end.

Chinese Trial in 2013:

In 2013, 6th Chinese Trials for Paris WTTC, a round-robin without dropping a match to qualify, or else players have to play all over again.

Chinese Trial in 2016:

In 2016, 9th Chinese Trials for Kuala Lumpur WTTC, the best of 9 formats was played, which is 2 more games than the normal practice.

Liu Guoliang’s coaching

Liu Guoliang is very hard in terms of coaching. He said:

Liu Guoliang coaching philosophy
Liu Guoliang coaching philosophy

Since I treat myself as their opponent. I am the person who knows the team and the athletes well.

I often think out of the box and try unconventional methods, unexpected training to strengthen the team after multiple challenges.

The past 10 years of Chinese Trials are the trials for restructuring the squad for the new Olympic cycle.

About Zhang Jike

In the Beijing quad, there were 2 Wangs (Wang Hao and Wang Liqin) and 1 Ma (Ma Lin). Wang Hao, Zhang Jike and Ma Long for the London quad.

The first genration Zhang Jike Ma Long Xu Xin
The first generation Zhang Jike Ma Long Xu Xin

As for Rio, there were Ma Long, Zhang Jike and Xu Xin. The veterans, the middle generation and the young generation alternate in this competition.

The year 2017, the first year of the Tokyo quad, what is the future of Ma Long, Zhang Jike and Xu Xin?

Will upcoming young athletes be replacing their spots? Who will be the one?

will ZJK return
will ZJK return

Zhang Jike. The London Olympics men’s singles champion. The super idol from the Chinese National Table Tennis Team.

Zhang Jike vs Liu Dingshuo
Zhang Jike vs Liu Dingshuo

Liu Dingshuo. He is 10 years younger than Zhang Jike.

He was just promoted to the A-Team. This is his first Chinese Trials. Liu Dingshuo is an all-rounded athlete.

He is not a wimp. He plays aggressive under pressure. Playing to the level of the opponents. This is well-prepared.

Zhang Jike is slow to warm up, but he is geared up. He is adjusting his status. You can find that in the details.

He is stretching which means he is ready for doing some footwork. He is going to start it off.

Liu Guoliang comments on the strength of Zhang Jike
Liu Guoliang comments on the strength of Zhang Jike

Zhang Jike’s style relies on his strong physique. Years of competitions and training have left him many injuries.

Liu Dingshuo notice this point. He returned the ball to Zhang Jike’s forehand.

Liu Dingshuo is aggressive. Liu Dingshuo played wide-angle and moved Zhang Jike around.

Liu Dingshuo won Zhang Jike 11:8 in the 3rd game which was his first victory in the Marvelous 12.

It’s the internal competition, we are familiar with each other and the pace of the competition is faster.

I have lost strength in my feet, especially when I need to move suddenly. I feel the pain in it. I will train through competitions.

There are lots of fans here. To athletes like him, whose ability is higher than other athletes, the tougher the internal competition is, the more meaningful the challenge is.

As internal competition is not a final test for them.

The true final tests are international competitions.

Such as WTTC and Olympics etc. It seems that our athletes won international competitions.

However, in terms of skills, it has not touched its bottom line.

Sometimes in internal competitions, top athletes are forced to a dead end.

(Zhang Jike 2:1 Fang Bo on 4 March)

Zhang Jike 2:1 Zhou Qihao on 4 March

Zhou Yu vs Zhang Jike
Zhou Yu vs Zhang Jike

(Zhou Yu, Chinese National Table Tennis Team member).

Zhou Yu, best friend of Zhang Jike in the Chinese National Table Tennis Team.

When I was young, my father loves table tennis. My uncle also plays table tennis. He was a professional player. Everyone thought the level of the athletes in the Chinese National Team is very similar.

Actually, in that slenderest margin, it involves different qualities.

That includes the ability to grab the opportunity and adapt to the changes in the competitions.

Everyone has a real problem and his own personality.

Let’s say for me, I’m slow in solving problems. On many occasions, I am lead by others.

About Xu Xin

That’s why table tennis is not just about technique but the mentality and the change of strategies.

Xu Xin vs Zhang Jike
Xu Xin vs Zhang Jike

Xu Xin’s style is rustic and Zhou Yu’s style is coarse.

Zhou Yu did not overcome it but fight hard only.

He misread the spin and his returns were high. He did not make the adjustments. He had the same problem in international competitions. You don’t make adjustments when you can’t make adjustments?

Zhang Jike's shoes
Zhang Jike’s shoes

In table tennis competition, apart from the technique, to a large extent, it is a competition of wisdom and courage.

I always tell my athletes to play smart. The key point is to understand the mentality of your opponents.

If you know what he is thinking and understand his personality, and learn his habits, the final step is to predict his next move.

I think that he knows Xu Xin’s style so well. He (Zhang Jike) often take the initiative to move Xu Xin.
It’s a bit painful.

(Zhang Jike 1:2 Xu Xin on 5 March.)

All competitions have uncertainties and fortuity. This is the charisma of competitive sports. Don’t be afraid of failure.

On 5 March, Zhang Jike played against his best friend, Zhou Yu. It seems that the injury has hindered Zhang Jike’s footwork. It has cost him at least 5 points.

At this moment, as long as he stands in the competition court, he is the winner.

As a result, Zhou Yu defeated Zhang Jike 11:7 and 11:1.

About Fan Zhendong

(Fan Zhendong, Chinese National Table Tennis Member.) Fan Zhendong, the no.4 player among the “Big 4”.
3 out of the 5 spots of men’s singles in WTTC are determined by the coaching team.

The remaining 2 are open for competition. Many believe the 1997-born young athlete, is most likely to win the 4th ticket to the WTTC.

Fan Zhendong wants to win
Fan Zhendong wants to win

I am eager to win the champion. The average age of the top 3 is around 28 years old. The coaches have high hopes for this 1997-born athlete. Fan Zhendong understands it.If he lost one more match, he would not have the chance to win in stage 1.

I have room for improvement. So I thought I should push myself further and make a breakthrough.

He has injured his foot. So we adjusted our strategy, reduce the times of playing forehand pivot.

I told him to play more backhand and counter-attack with his backhand.

Fan Zhendong lost to Lin Gaoyuan
Fan Zhendong lost to Lin Gaoyuan

Sometimes injuries are the turning point. Because of the injury, Fan Zhendong stands closer to the table and his returns are faster.

His strategy is effective. When his body condition is limiting his performance, Fan Zhendong found a way to overcome that and win.

However, to Fan Zhendong the true challenge is yet to come. The robin round is a test of their integrated ability.

They need to adapt to different styles and adjust my mentality. Fan Zhendong did not make it on the table,

Lin Gaoyuan won the decisive 3rd game 11-8. He (Lin Gaoyuan) made a comeback and win 2-1.
I am very concern about the first match as many people pointed out that I am slow to enter the zone.

Therefore I would like to have a good start in the first match, and then continue the momentum to win.
However, after losing the first match, I was not quite happy about that.

After the first defeat, Fan Zhendong had not yet adjusted his form but he faced another misfortune.
When I played against Yan An, I sprained my ankle. I worried that my foot would have a great problem.
I was not sure whether I should keep going or stop immediately to rest my foot.

2 consecutive losses and an unexpected injury. Fan Zhendong was a bit lost.
There were not many chances for him to come back.

About Ma Long

If he wants to earn the ticket to the WTTC, he must win over the no.1 player, Ma Long.

I really want to win him (Ma Long) from the bottom of my heart. So that I can boost my confidence and aura.
As part of the ‘Big Four’, Fan Zhendong must have imagined many times to play against Ma Long.

Ma Long concentrated to the next match
Ma Long concentrated to the next match

But not when he has an injured right foot and a crooked start.

(Fan Zhendong Vs Ma Long on 6 March)

Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong
Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong

Fan Zhendong has been consistently world ranked no.2. Whereas the world ranked no.1 player is Ma Long.

It is enjoyable to watch Ma Long play. He has many variations in his arsenal.

He is aggressive from the very beginning. Ma Long plays at ease.

Whereas Fan Zhendong, the kid is very straight forward. He (Fan Zhendong) is very capable but when he faces Ma Long who has a lot of variety,

Today’s match might be a tough one. Both sides are aggressive.
(Coach Wu Jingping, CNT Coach)

I am not looking for a good match rather I want to see whether you can play with wisdom and courage.
I don’t need pure individual ability.

I require to see you solving problems after problems in competitions. This forehand down the line is very hard to play. In the 2nd game and the 3rd game, it was all under Ma Long’s control. Fan Zhendong is under a passive situation.
This is the most valuable thing about Fan Zhendong.
The more critical the moment is, the more daring to attack and he has a high success rate.

He can’t do that without daily training. Forehand side near the net of Fan Zhendong. If Fan Zhendong wants to beat Ma Long, he has to play to this level.

It is not an easy match. Fan Zhendong win over the captain, Ma Long  Started with consecutive losses and an unexpected injury,

Many thought he (Fan Zhendong) had no chance to win in stage 1. Fan Zhendong changed his strategy and comeback from despair. It is a limitation that inspires new ways.

A breakthrough from limitations. The comeback of Fan Zhendong leaves a memorable moment for the Marvellous 12.

As long as you never give up, there will be a miracle. Today’s match is impeccable.

The first athlete from the men’s team to win the ticket to the WTTC is Fan Zhendong.

Congratulations, Xiao Pang (nickname of Fan Zhendong)

I am happy to be the first male athlete to win the ticket to the WTTC. The robin round is a tough competition.
I hope that I will have a great performance in the Worlds. Thank you.

Fan Zhendong won the first ticket
Fan Zhendong won the first ticket

Thank you all the athletes who have won their tickets to WTTC.

©PINGSUNDAY. Unauthorized use, translation or duplication of this material is strictly prohibited. Link and excerpt may be used, provided that clear credit is given to PingSunday with the specific link to the original content.

Sign up and join +65k readers. Get free coaching ebooks and coaching advice every week

Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

3 thoughts on “About China National Table Tennis Men Team”

  1. Hey Coach,

    Who ia coach Wu Jing PING, he ia not in the list coach member? But i often see him in chinese training video on YouTube

    Thanks, your are best coach

  2. Hi coach. I like your videos very much. They helped me a lot with improving my technique. But now i have a problem, its time to change my rubbers, because they are almost 1 and a half year old. Can you help me choose new rubbers? My blade is a andro hiloom witch hinoki outer ply( i bought it because of the good feeling and nice catapult). My playing style is topspin oriented and i play from mid distance to far distance behind the table. On the forehand i normally play a slow spinny topsin first and the second ball i loopkill, On the backhand i do a lot of pushes, blocks and chops, but also if the ball comes good i do a tospin in the opsite corner to finsih the point . I like a strong catapult effect.I train 2 times a week for 5 hours.
    Can you please help me? Excuse me for my English its not very good. Btw i am very ambitioned and want to improve fast.

  3. Hola entrenador, Gracias a sus consejos e progresado en el tenis de mesa. Juego estilo lapicero chino y me gustaria que siguiera subiendo mas contenido de estilo lapicero, ya que aqui en la ciudad que vivo no hay demasiados entrenadores.


Leave a Comment