Why do table tennis players say “Cho”?

Why do top professional table tennis players make “cho” (or “cho-lei”) sounds after scoring points? What is the meaning of “Cho”? Shouting “Cho” or “Cho-lei” is becoming the culture in table tennis. It is something like, if you don’t Cho, you are not a real table tennis player.

Why do table tennis players shout “Cho”?

Table tennis players all around the world have a different way to celebrate the winning point in table tennis. Many players use “Cho”, and “Cho-lei” (learn from the top Chinese players).

Today, I want to explain the meaning of “Cho-le”, and how to “cho” correctly in table tennis. Why do Chinese players cheer “Cho” after winning the point?

Question why pro player shouts Cho in table tennis
Question why pro player shouts Cho in table tennis

Because they normally say “Hao Cho” during their training and match? “Hao Cho” means “good ball”. But “Hao” is the weak sound with an open mouth so in short, they say “Cho” after winning a good ball.

And what is “Cho-leeeeeey”?

The meaning of Cho-lei

“le” means “again, one more”. So “Cho-le” is “good ball again”, “one more”. “Cho-le! Cho” is like “One more, good ball!”

Cho and Cho-lei are origins from Chinese table tennis players
Cho and Cho-lei are origins from Chinese table tennis players

Here is the video I made to explain the meaning of “Cho-lei”


Confirmed meaning of “Cho-lei” by Chinese players

Here is the message of some Chinese players that emailed me:

Chinese here.

Cho indeed means 球 (ball) , and I agree with your theory that they left out Hao 好 (good) for it’s easier to shout out that way. But the word “ley” after “cho” is just an exclamation word “嘞“ in Chinese which doesn’t have an actual meaning.

The word “sa” should be “飒” which in Beijing slang usually is used to describe a female who is cool. Therefore it’s originally used mostly by female Chinese players.

Finally I don’t think Ma Lin or any Chinese player would shout French “allez”. They can barely speak English let alone French, and English is the only 2nd language taught in China. Usually only people who go to language college learn other languages.

AND, I disagree with the other “Chinese” comment here saying Cho means “Fxxk” in Chinese. The correct pronunciation for “Fxxk” in Chinese is “Cao” which sounds like “Tsaw”. The vowel and consonant are both different from “Cho”.

Alex Hu has another explication. He said:

Hi there, I grew up in Guangzhou (or Canton), where our mother tongue is Cantonese. In Cantonese “cho-le” is actually “出嘞”, which refers to the ball as “it’s out!” or “you’ve hit the ball out of bounds!”.

However, every source I see on the internet affirms that “cho-le” means “good ball”, or “好球”, which is incorrect, as the saying is derived from the Cantonese pronunciation and if you listen sounds much more similar to “出嘞” in Cantonese than “球嘞” or any other variant in Mandarin. Pretty much every Cantonese-speaking table tennis player would agree.

I suspect the widespread misinformation is due to a combination of 1) Chinese mainland news sources not reaching outside of China, and 2) a lack of Cantonese speakers.

To expound on the second point, even most mainland Chinese don’t speak Cantonese anymore so there are many inaccurate sources. Furthermore, since Cantonese rolls off the tongue easier than Mandarin, many Mandarin speakers adopt Cantonese phrases such as this one. When foreign sources try to interpret the meaning of the phrase simply through the sound, I believe that’s how the misassumption arose.

Please share this message so that more people can be aware of this. Frankly, I’m a little concerned as I have yet to see any source in Western media share the accurate definition.

Another way to say “Cho”

And what is “Aller”?

“Aller” is french. “Aller” means “Come on”. Many players use “Allez, Come on”. For example, Ma Lin sometimes uses the trilingual “Cho-le! Allez! Come on!”.

And what is “Sa”?

Ariel Hsing shouted Sha after a great point
Ariel Hsing shouted Sha after a great point

Do some people explain that “sa” is originated from the Chinese? (sha) (to kill). I don’t think so, because this explication is too aggressive.

If you play table tennis in France, you will hear a lot of “ça”. It’s “C’est ça”, which means “that’s it”, “like this”. Timo Boll also uses a lot of “ça, c’est ca”. So for me, “sa” is “that’s it”, “yes, this ball!”.

So, to cheer in table tennis, we have:

  • Cho (good ball)
  • Cho-le (good ball, again)
  • Allez (go, come on in French)
  • Come on
  • ça (C’est ça) (yes! like this)
  • Vamos (Portugese for come on)
  • Chu (variation of Cho, only used by Ma Long)

and what else?

  • Piao liang (漂亮)
  • Qiu (球)
  • Mou ippon (も 一歩ん)
  • Aller (Allêr)
  • Shaaaaaaaa! (シャアアアアアア!!!!)

How to “cho” correctly?

“Cho-ing” has become the tradition and the culture in table tennis. Scream “cho!” is a means of self-encouragement and tension-relief.

But you should “Cho” only at the important point. Don’t “Cho” at every point, because it’s rude and unnecessary, which can cause you and your opponent to lose their temper and concentration.

Table tennis is the sport, but not the battle of screaming. Recently Tomokazu Harimoto improved so fast, he adapted to the new trend perfectly.. Now, are you ready for this “funny” 40 seconds screaming battle between Lin Gaoyuan and Bernadette Szocs?


Let’s rock!

You should read

©PINGSUNDAY. Unauthorized use or duplication of this material without permission from the author 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.

19 thoughts on “Why do table tennis players say “Cho”?”

Leave a Comment