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Top 5 Reasons Why China is So Good At Table Tennis

Why Chinese players are so good at table tennis? Are there any secrets to that? 5 top secrets that you should know. This will help you understand the Chinese domination in table tennis.

Yes, not only they have a special training program, but also there are 5 main reasons that China has dominated tablet tennis for a long time.

There are some moments people think there will be the end of Chinese domination. But now, China Team continues to dominate the sport.

The national sport of China

Table tennis is the national sport of China. Chinese table tennis coaches have the long history about the table tennis.

The world tournament has been held since 1926. China won gold 149 times, Hungary won 68, Japan won 48. Sweden men last won in 2000 and Singapore women last won in 2010.

Coach Qin Zhijian - one of the best coach in China
Coach Qin Zhijian – one of the best coach in China

Therefore it is possible to win over China. But in order to do it consistently, that is a different story all together. I think, more foreigners need to play and train in the Chinese super league. The exposure will only help strengthen the game. It helps that Table Tennis is a national game in China. Just like football in Brazil or basketball in the USA.

The Domination Continues

During the Olympics RIO 2016, more than 300 million Chinese people watched the singles final between the two champions – Ma Long and Zhang Jike.


Watch video above ☝.


Rio 2016 Olympic Games: Ma Long wins gold in table tennis for the Grand Slam. Chinese world number one Ma Long beat compatriot Zhang Jike 4-0 to win men’s singles and win a grand slam in table tennis.

Ma Long becomes one of the best table tennis players in the history. The 5th Grand Slam in table tennis.

In the last three Olympics, China has flawlessly swept the table tennis gold medals. And given the shape of their best players, it seems that history can repeat itself at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Please note that Tokyo 2020 is postponed to the next year 2021.

This, therefore, leads to a crucial question – Why are the Chinese so good at table tennis? 

Is table tennis the national sport in China?

Yes, table tennis is more than a sport in China. It is not only the “NATIONAL SPORT” of China, but it is also the “NATIONAL CULTURE”, and the “NATIONAL PRIDE”.

China National Team dominates the Olympic Podium
China National Team dominates the Olympic Podium

It has political, historical, and cultural significance and has played a vital role in embedding the rise of China in the world.

In this article, we will see why China dominates table tennis and what makes it so popular in China?

Ma Long has won the Rio Olympics 2016 to become a grand slam

Mao Zedong, President of the People’s Republic of China, said that table tennis was the national sport in 1949.

The leader believed that table tennis could bring people together, build confidence and at the same time help China to connect with the rest of the world.

How popular is table tennis in China?

China has way more table tennis players than any other country.

With over 1.393 billion (2018) billion people, China is the world’s most populous country in table tennis. There are over 85 million people who play the sport almost every day in the table tennis club.

China has a very large population who plays table tennis.  Around 350 million Chinese watch major ITTF events, and also the Marvelous 12 Trials events.

Statistically, there is 1 ping pong table for every 7 Chinese people. So there are a lot of tables if you can do the calculation yourself.

Every 7 Chinese, there are 1 table!

There are 1 table for every Chinese in China - table tennis in Public Park in China
There are 1 table for every Chinese in China – table tennis in Public Park in China

They also have so many good players in table tennis. Many of them just play for another country. At least 44 table tennis players in Rio were Chinese-born, with only 6 of them playing for China.

China has an extremely intensive training program. This training program is reserved only for the top provincial and national teams. This intense training is called “closed training”. They often train for 10 h/every days.

They have huge government support for the sport in general. China National Team has the biggest training center in the world.

Table tennis training method in China
Table tennis training method in China

Top 5 reasons that China is so good at table tennis

Today, we talk about the Top 5 Table Tennis Secrets in China. These are the reasons to answer the question “why Chinese players are so good at table tennis.”

It’s not due to the quantity (number of players, training hours), but the “quality”.

So my answer is simple: It’s due to the “Training Quality” in China.

In general, like learning any new skills, like learning a sport, or learning music, or financial, or sciences, there are 2 factors that you can become better.

  • Coaching system: China has the best training program. Started at a very young age. A very good coach with the step-by-step tutorial. Master the foundation of table tennis, and focus on the speed, power, quality of the shots at the beginning.
  • Players: Chinese peoples love this sport. That’s why the government continues to investigate the system. They devoted their lives to this sport. From generation to generation.

Note: Some peoples say, “Hey, China so good because they have so many players”. Wrong! That’s the quality of training that decides your level, not the quantity. The number of table tennis players around the world is much more important than the Chinese player. But they are the best because they sacrifice many things for this sport.

But here are the top 5 Secrets that why Chinese players are so so good.

  • #1 – They have the best coaches in the world
  • #2 – They have the best training system
  • #3 – Very High Detailed coaching techniques
  • #4 – Special “closed-training” for Important Tournaments like Olympics, or World Championship.
  • #5 – “Blue Partner” to clone most threatening opponent

#1 – Best coaches in the world

China has the best coaches in the world, no doubt. They are not only good at table tennis techniques, but also very good at tactics, strategy, playing style development, and team managers.

It’s the role of the coach who has a deep understanding of table tennis techniques. He should have a “sharp eye”. What is a “sharp eye”? “Sharp eye” of a coach is the ability to analyze and improve the player’s skill even in very small detail. A coach “watches” the player training session, but can not “see” where to improve, where to fix his techniques.

Liu Guoliang: Genius of Table Tennis Tactics
Liu Guoliang: Genius of Table Tennis Tactics

As in any sport, that is the coach that will decide how fast a player can improve.

#2 – Best training system

As I explained above, training is the key that makes a “good player” become the “best player” in table tennis. Their training system is well developed, and is separated into 3 layers:

  • Club levels: to detect the talented young players
  • Provincial levels: to form the young professional team. These young players can easily compete at the top 100-300 on the World Ranking.
  • National levels: when you can enter the national team, you are already at the top 50 of the World Elite ranking.

Did you know that there are at least 44 table tennis players in the Olympics were Chinese-born, with only 6 of them playing for China?

chinese born mainlain player for the olympics
Only 6 Chinese born maintain player for the Olympics

For example, the pink country is the country that has Chinese-born players in the National Team.

countries with chinese born players presented in the Olympics
countries with Chinese born players presented in the Olympics

In the Olympics, each country can only have a maximum of 6 players. Here you can see, that the presence of Chinese players not only in China mainland but also in many other countries.

Chinese born players Germany
Chinese born players Germany
Chinese players represented both teams in this Luxembourg vs. Singapore matchup
Chinese players represented both teams in this Luxembourg vs. Singapore match-up

There are a lot of Chinese players who played for another country. They are very good. But not good enough for the main China Team.

That’s why when you can enter the Chinese Team (Team A), you already have 40% to be a world champion, or to compete in the top 10 of the World Table Tennis Ranking.

Chinese players play for another countries
Chinese players play for another countries

#3 – Very High Detailed Techniques

The very high detailed techniques.

So what is exactly the “High Detailed coaching techniques”?

So in 2018, the USA table tennis team got the chance to train together with Team China for nearly one month.

After the training camp, they all spoke to coach Gao, the national coach of the United State team

Coach GAO JUN - USA National Coach impressed by the small details coaching approach in China
Coach GAO JUN – USA National Coach impressed by the small details coaching approach in China

“it is totally different”. What differs is the quality and attitude of Chinese players’ training; the professionalism of their coaches.

Coach Gao asked the players “what did you learn from Team China”? The perfect detail-focused approached impressed them a lot. Unlike Americans or Europeans, Chinese players address every small detail. They do not want to lose even it is just a training session.

So the small details approach has made the “quality” of the Chinese player. Let’s take an example, how Ma Long, one of the best Chinese players train and improve his techniques.

Here is the video where I explain this “perfect detail-focused approached”.


Top 5 Secrets in China (Table Tennis)

Watch video above ☝.


#4 – Special “closed-training”

Why Chinese players always win important tournaments, like the Olympics, World Championship, World Cup?

They can lose, for sometimes, at the smaller event, like Pro Tour, Platinum ITTF. But in the very important event, they have a very high winning percentage.

That is due to the “closed-training”.

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

Before the important event, China Team always has the “closed training”, normally 2 months before the event.

No foreign players, no newspaper, no journalist, no reporter are allowed to enter and filmed the training event.

Watch the full video here:


The King Never Gives Up - Part 1

Watch video above ☝.


They are allowed only to film at the beginning and the end of each closed-training. At the end of the closed training, the head coach (Liu Guoliang) will resume, and decide the main team. Everything can be changed during the closed-training. Even Ma Long can be excluded if his performance is not as good as expected during this period.

They have 100 tips (compiled by the coaching staff) to boost the performance of the players, and to deal with the most important opponent.

#5 – “Blue Partner”

Blue partners are the top provincial players, who are used to train for a specific objective.

In China, these not-good-enough players are asked to practice and clone the most important style in table tennis. They are called “Blue Partner”.

Practice with Blue Partner to deal with the most important opponent
Practice with Blue Partner to deal with the most important opponent

They are used to train with the top players (Ma Long, Zhang Jike, Xu Xin, Fan Zhendong, etc), and help the top players dealing with a specific style.

For example:

  • Hao Shuai is asked to imitate the player style of Timo Boll. He is a clone of Timo Boll. Hao Shuai is not as good to be in the team A of China Team. But he is still in the China Team (Team B). His role is the “Blue Partner”.
  • Ryu Seung-min is one of the most dangerous opponents of the China Team during his peak. So Wang Jian Jun is asked to imitate the playing style of RSM.
  • Zhao Zihao is asked to follow Xu Xin. As a tradition, there should be always 1 penholder in China Team.

A good example of “Blue Partner” in the China Team.

Wang Jian Jun (王建军) is a very talented table tennis player from China. But he’s not good enough in team A.

He once was a member of the Chinese B team. At that time he was using a J-pen blade. Has beaten Ma Lin, Wang Liqin, Chen Qi. He is asked to use J-pen to “clone” Ryu Seung Min style. Later in his career his switch to c-pen and play in Europe. Wang Jian Jun has played for Charleroi in Belgium and then for Pontoise in France.

Here is the video of Wang Jian Jun (Chinese version of Ryu Seung-min)

Wang Jian Jun - From J-pen To C-pen

Watch video above ☝.


Here is the video of Hao Shuai (Chinese version of Timo Boll).

Shanghai au championnat du monde 2005

Watch video above ☝.

That’s it for today. Thank you for supporting me, coach EmRatThich.

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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.

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