The meaning of Cho in table tennis

Why do table tennis players say “Cho”?

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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 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 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” ?

“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

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 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 elses?

  • 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 the 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!

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2 months ago

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,… Read more »

2 years ago

Hi and thank you very much for the explanation!
I’m French but did not expected that aley comes from “aller” in French! Glad to learn that! ?
Are you sure in Chinese “ball” is “qiu ” rather than “cho”? I learnt a bit of pinyin and it is a relatively close pronunciation but still… !
Thank you again

Jason Chen
Jason Chen
2 years ago

It makes no sense that “Cho” is the short form of “Hao Qiu” by omitting the word “Hao”. “Hao” means “Good” which is more meaningful than the word “Qiu” which simply means “ball.” “Cho” or “Jo” comes from the tradition of volleyball battlecry. It is the combined form of the Chinese pronunciation “Jia Yo” that literally translates to English “Add Gas” but semantically meaning “open more throttle.” You hear “Jia Yo” a lot from the Chinese audience a lot to encourage their team. But we used the abbreviated form “Jo” when I played volleyball 50 years ago usually before each… Read more »

a frenchie
a frenchie
1 year ago

It’s “allez” (come on), not “aller” (to come) 😉

Just a player
Just a player
6 months ago

I’m Chinese, I will say “Cho-le” sounds more like a foul language to me. It sounds awfully like the Chinese equivalent of f*** you: Cho means f***, Le means you. For example, if you say “Cho-le-ma” to a Chinese, that’s a super insult. It means f*** your mom. That’s why I never yell “Cho” or “Cho-le” while I play table tennis.

A walking chinese guy
A walking chinese guy
Reply to  Coach EmRatThich
5 months ago

Hi EmRatThich, another Chinese guy here :-D. this is a very interesting discussion. I think there are several reasons that quite a lot of the top players use “cho-leeey” as their goal-shout, including non-Chinese players. The word “cho-leeey” is easy to pronounce, and easy to shout loud, especially during intense games. The player can keep their breath rhythm and use this word to gain self-inspiration and put pressure on the opponent. The explanation that “cho-leeey” is actually an F word does make some sense, however, it’s hard to get convinced that top players are actually cursing at each other, table… Read more »

6 months ago

Я I usually shout “jo-li, chu, cho-li.” Thanks for the clarification.

Jotaro's Cat
Jotaro's Cat
3 months ago

is it ok if u dont say anything after a good point and u just keep quiet the whole match?

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