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Xu Xin equipment and playing style

Xu Xin, one of the best penholders in the history of table tennis.

In January 2013, Xu Xin achieved his career-high singles position of world No. 1 for the first time. He has 17 World Tour Singles victories to his credit, as well as three World Championships in men’s doubles, two in mixed doubles, and five in the team event.

Xu Xin profile

Xu Xin has the Chinese name: 许昕

Xu Xin has several nicknames like Big Python, Lord Xin, Brother Xin, Xin Xinzi, People’s Artist, Customer Service Xiao Xu, etc.

Xu Xin - one the best penholder of Chinese National Team
Xu Xin – one of the best penholders of the Chinese National Team

Xu Xin is one of the best Chinese table tennis players. He is considered the “Cloud Walker” in table tennis. Xu Xin becomes the world’s number 1 table tennis player in January 2013.

Many players called Xu Xin “the artist” in table tennis.

  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Nickname: “Cloud Walker”
  • Born: 8 January 1990, Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China
  • Playing-style: left-handed, penhold grip
  • Highest Ranking: #1
  • Height: 181 cm
  • Weight: 75 kg

Here is the best highlight of Xu Xin:

 

Xu Xin equipment

Xu Xin is using Stiga blade and DHS rubbers. Xu Xin is sponsored by Stiga and DHS (China National Team).

Blade: STIGA Dynasty Carbon Chinese Penhold



Forehand: DHS NEO Skyline TG2

Backhand: DHS Hurricane 3

Xu Xin is using Stiga Dynasty Carbon (1)
Xu Xin is using Stiga Dynasty Carbon (1)
Xu Xin is using Stiga Dynasty Carbon (1)
Xu Xin is using Stiga Dynasty Carbon (1)

 

Xu Xin’s style and Equipment

Xu Xin许昕
Photo
Xu Xin The Cloud Walker - Best Penholder in Table Tennis
Xu Xin The Cloud Walker - Best Penholder in Table Tennis
Backhand rubberSwitch from Butterfly Tenergy 05 to Hurricane 2 RED 2.15 mm(Check price/ Read review) for the new plastic ball.

BladeStiga Offensive NCT Wood blade (PENHOLD handle) (Check price/ Read review)

Forehand rubberDHS Hurricane 3 National Version (Blue Sponge 41.5 hardness, 2.15mm) (Check price/ Read review)

Playing StyleTraditional penhold style, upgraded with RPB (Reverse Penhold Backhand). Mid distance attacker
StrengthCrazy sidespin forehand topspin. Strong footwork and very good setup service
WeaknessBackhand counter attack. Weak at the ball in front of the body, and service return is not agressive enough.

 

Xu Xin uses a Stiga Offensive NCT Wood blade.

Forehand rubber: Hurricane III (Blue sponge) 41.5 hardness, 2.15mm.

and a Stiga Boost TX, Tenergy 05, and come back to personal Hurricane 2 on his backhand.

Xu Xin's blade and rubber
Xu Xin’s blade and rubber

In 2017 CTTSL (Chinese Table Tennis Super League), Xu Xin changed back to DHS Skyline 2. 

Note: Skyline series is designed for penholder players before, for example, Malin used skyline 2 and Wanghao used skyline 3, Xuxin used skyline 2 before. It’s more difficult for a penholder player against a shake-hand player nowadays due to the even bigger 40+ ball.

Xu Xin blade at WTTC 2011 (2)
Xu Xin blade at WTTC 2011 (2)
Xu Xin blade at WTTC 2011
Xu Xin blade at WTTC 2011

Xu Xin changed to Hurricane 3, and then came back to Skyline 2 (Blue Sponge)

Xu Xin used the harder and faster blade to get more speed due to the new ball.

The current blade of Xu Xin is the customed DHS Blade, model N301.

Xu Xin played with DHS Skyline TG2 in China Super League 2017.
Xu Xin played with DHS Skyline TG2 in China Super League 2017.

Xu Xin’s equipment in 2011-2013.

Blade: Stiga Rosewood NCT V

Forehand rubber: DHS Skyline TG 2 (blue sponge)

Backhand rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 05

Xu Xin blade and rubber in 2013 (1)
Xu Xin blade and rubber in 2013 (1)
Xu Xin blade and rubber in 2013 (2)
Xu Xin blade and rubber in 2013 (2)

Xu Xin playing style

Xu Xin is one of China’s few penhold grip players, especially among the younger generation, who prefer to shakehand. He follows in the footsteps of Wang Hao and Ma Lin, two other penhold champions.

Xu Xin’s key strength is his shot variety and lightning-quick forehand looping, which he achieves by stepping deep into his backhand corner to play his forehand. His very spinny and deceptive serves these shots, and he has some of the best footwork in table tennis.

Xu Xin penholder playing style with great footworks
Xu Xin penholder playing style with great footwork

He can more readily reach wide-hit balls thanks to his long arms and body. His lengthy arms let him perform an elegant, one-of-a-kind forehand loop with his arm almost fully extended. He’s also acquired the reverse penhold backhand grip (RPB), a recent invention for Chinese penholders that allows him to attack from two sides.

With the forehand side of his racket, he still uses a classic penhold (Chinese) backhand to lob and push the ball. Xu Xin has recently been more eager to counter with his RPB, allowing him to sustain aggression on his backhand side in the points.

Xu Xin, the Showman

Adam Bobrow (the voice of ITTF) often calls him the “Show Man”. Because Xu Xin loves playing lob ball which is very spectacular.

He’s also a bit of a ‘crowd performer,’ coming up with outrageous, and sometimes incorrect, shots on a regular basis.

 

In recent years, he’s been labeled the showman. This could be due to his playful attitude and self-assurance when it comes to playing. As he matures and assumes more responsibility, he acknowledged that he aspires to become more efficient and productive with his shot selection.

Xu Xin has recently been dubbed “XUperman,” a reference to his many “superman-like” situations. The use of Adam Bobrow, an ITTF commentator, has helped to popularize these names.

Xu Xin the best penholder

With Ma Lin, Wang Hao, Xu Xin is considered the best penholder in table tennis of all time.

Ma Long Xu Xin exhibition 2021
Ma Long Xu Xin exhibition 2021

Meanwhile, Ma Long, Zhang Jike, Jan Ove Waldner are considered the best shakehand players in table tennis.

  • Playing grip: Penholder
  • Unique style: Left hand and Penholder
  • Playing style: Two sides, topspin far from the table. Great lobbing defensive skill. Control backhand style, Forehand attack all the table. Great serving skills. One of the best footwork in the world.

Xu Xin is a left-handed topspin attacker! He is the only penholder in the China Top 4 and is the best penholder in the world from 2003 to now. Xu Xin is amongst the top 4 strongest table tennis players in the world including Ma Long and Zhang Jike, Fan Zhendong. Xu Xin is one of very few players in the top 100 of the World to play with a unique style of grip – The penhold grip. The previous best penholder was Ma Lin and Wang Hao who reached the final of the Beijing Olympics.

Xu Xin achievement

He has 17 World Tour Singles victories under his belt, as well as three World Championship titles in men’s doubles, two in mixed doubles, and five in team events. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Xu Xin and his teammates Ma Long and Zhang Jike won the gold medal for the men’s team.

Ma Long and Xu Xin at WTT Macao 2021 (1)
Ma Long and Xu Xin at WTT Macao 2021 (1)
  • first major achievement: East Asian Games Men’s Singles in 2009
  • first-ever World Tour title in Kuwait in 2010
  • World Championships in 2014
  • First player in the lineup in the finals World Team Championships.
  • Known as the “The Cloud Walker” with the quick footwork, crazy sidespin loop, in great defense
  • worlds ranking number 1 in 2013
  • In China, Xu Xin played for team Shanghai

Xu Xin’s wife

Unlike Ma Long’s wife, Xu Xin’s wife is also a professional table tennis player. Her name is Yao Yan.

Yao Yan
Yao Yan

Xu Xin’s childhood

Xu Xin has a wonderful childhood. He has quickly gained the attention of the Chinese national coaches.

Xu Xin and Marcos Madrid at the training camp in China
Xu Xin and Marcos Madrid at the training camp in China
  • Birthday: Jan. 8, 1990
  • Province: Jiangsu China
  • Started playing at 5 years old
  • 10 years old: Provicinal Sports School in Jiangsu
  • First professional coach: veteran coach Tang Zhixian at Shanghai
  • 2002 moved to Shanghai, lived in a humid, non-air-conditioned. Not easy life in Shanghai (poor).
  • Xu Xin continue studying and hard work
  • 2007, join the National Team Team B
  • Only 6 months later, move to the first team, team A. He was working so hard, Xu Xin.

The left-handedness of Xu Xin has been a part of him since he was a little boy. When he was eating, he put chopsticks in his left hand and wrote with his left hand. When he was pulled over by his grandmother, he ate and wrote with his right hand.

Xu Xin at 5 years old
Xu Xin at 5 years old

Some teachers came to his kindergarten when he was 5. They helped the kids play games together. Xu Xin ran the fastest and was the most responsive, so he was the best person. That’s not true at all. This was the teacher from Shaohua Street Primary School in Xuzhou City, China!

The table tennis team at this elementary school is very well-known in the area where they live. When Xu Xin had a lot of fun, she was already chosen by the teacher of Shaohua Street Elementary School, who liked her. She began her career in table tennis from there on out.

A table tennis teacher tried him out when he started to learn the game. She found that he throws with his left hand farther than his right hand. A lot of people use their left foot to kick the ball. He was asked to hold the racket with his left hand.

Xu Xin was training very hard at a young age
Xu Xin was training very hard at a young age

The next day, Xu Xin went home and told a lot of interesting stories and tried a few new serve moves. Because of Xu Xin, his parents couldn’t keep going. But as time went on, he came to like the way he lived. And he didn’t say a word as he played table tennis. It was in the third grade of elementary school that Xu Xin went to Xuzhou City Sports School. He started riding his bike to and from school without being picked up by his parents, and he kept going until he was 18. A lot of people thought he was very self-sufficient.

Xu Xin’s grades from grade one to grade four are also very good. During the week, Sunday afternoons are the only time that is free to do nothing. Most of his free time is spent playing table tennis until he reached the top of the same age group in Jiangsu Province, which is where he lives.

He went to the Nanjing Institute of Physical Education, where he took a self-funded table tennis class. He had to leave his home in Xuzhou at the age of 10 and go there.

Xu Xin at a very young age
Xu Xin at a very young age

Xu Xin didn’t want to go with his parents, so his parents had to take a four-and-a-half-hour train on the weekends to see him. Cold weather kept many people from going outside. Xu Xin had to wash his clothes and clean the dishes alone, and his mother saw him cry. Out of my sight. Xu Xinzhi was one of the top two in the class that was paid for by herself. He was asked to join the Jiangsu team by the school’s sports team in less than a year. At that time, Tang Zhixian was in charge of the youth training in Nanjing.

At the time, Xu Xin was only 11 years old, so he was a very young player on the whole Jiangsu team. It was hard to make it to the top 6 in the team competition, but we did it. However, Xu Xin made a big move in the 2001 Amateur Sports School South and North Finals, where he made a lot of noise. To get in the top 6.

As soon as they arrived in Shanghai for two weeks, they kept coming back for three weeks and months. There was a 7-hour train ride each way. He is very good at table tennis. His hands feel good and he thinks very well. Because he is different from other kids, he doesn’t practice hitting the ball like the classic training lesson. When he trains, it is very personal.

Xu Xin’s personal coach

  • Personal coach: coached by Qin Zhijian who happened to be a left-handed penhold player like him.

Qin Zhijian, a fellow Jiangsu resident, is Xu Xin’s national team coach. Qin Zhijian, like Xu Xin before him, was a left-handed pen-hold athlete. His parents were informed that Guidance Qin was a kind and caring person and that the two men shared a similar playing style when he joined the national team and frequently phoned his parents.

Xu Xin and his coach
Xu Xin and his coach

Even while Qin Zhijian was quick to condemn Xu Xin for his alleged laziness and inability to concentrate while training, when he spoke to other people in private, he spoke highly of the young man:

“He’s a two-sided foe who fights with his left hand. He needs to combine the strengths of Wang Hao and Ma Lin. However, many players find it tough to play with him because of his unique technical abilities.”

Xu Xin, Ma Long and coach Qin Zhijian
Xu Xin, Ma Long and coach Qin Zhijian


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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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