Why Do Chinese Players Dominate Table Tennis? (Intensive Training)

Last Updated on October 25, 2023 by Sorin Petroj

Chinese players dominate table tennis for several reasons. Another World Championship is behind us, and China won gold medals again in the men’s and women’s singles competitions. Fan Zhendong is the World Champion in men’s singles, and Wang Manyu in the women’s singles category.

Is it a coincidence? Of course not. Find out further in the article why Chinese players dominate table tennis.

WTTC Houston Finals – Top 7 Points

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Chinese players dominate table tennis because it is the source of their national pride that they have been rendering since 1953 when China entered the World Table Tennis Championship.

Since 1959, China has stood unparallel by winning the highest men’s titles at the Olympics and medals. A total of 405 out of 1483 in the World Table Tennis Championship. With the upcoming World Table Tennis Championships Finals scheduled on 25th November, the best players worldwide and fiercest rivals aim to seize Chinese table tennis supremacy.

But this year, China challenges the World Championship with a younger squad replacing the Grand Slam winner, Ma Long, and Star duos Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin. The Chinese Table Tennis Association is confident that its talented players will keep the Chinese domination intact and now eyes the 2024 Olympics. Many critics question the driving forces influencing Chinese players’ domination in table tennis at such feats and heights.

The nation of China occupies the highest percentage of the worldwide table tennis population, with the most successful table tennis champions. So, won the highest number of medals in Olympic Table Tennis events.

China National Team

china national table tennis team in red color uniform

The Chinese players’ supremacy in table tennis is also because it safeguards their national interests and establishes their authority in global sports.

Also, they target high and are currently the nation winning most of the Olympic table tennis medals. Hence, the Nationalist government’s ability to dream, plan and strategize. Moreover, cultural confidence led Chinese players to dominate table tennis worldwide.

Indeed, China has successfully produced the highest number of world table tennis champions. However, other factors contribute to China’s domination in table tennis. Rivals, authors, and coaches typically refer to three theories to explain why Chinese players dominate table tennis.

  • Table Tennis is the national sport in China, ingrained in the Chinese culture, and is the biggest competitive advantage for Chinese table tennis players.
  • With more than 19 million active table tennis players and 15 million licensed table tennis players, China can produce the highest number of best world table tennis players in the world. China is also the nation with the highest number of table tennis clubs. A recent survey conducted in 2019 revealed approximately one million table tennis courts in China. In addition, China dominates table tennis with the highest number of medal counts in the World Championship and Olympics.
  • The Chinese Table Tennis Federation employs innovative training techniques. A three-tier training program, tactics like the blue partnership. Digital innovations give players a competitive advantage in international competitions.

The three theories most significantly led to the Chinese dominance in table tennis. In addition, several strategies and national policies contribute to China’s leadership in table tennis. Keep reading to learn about China’s unique approach and strategies to global table tennis domination.

Rise Of The Chinese Domination In Table Tennis

Although table tennis was introduced in China in 1901, the nation entered the World Championship for the first time in 1953. Before 1953, Hungary dominated table tennis. The Czech Republic and Great Britain were also highly competitive during that time.

Later on, Japan became the dominant player in late 1950. The Chinese players began to dominate table tennis worldwide when they won three consecutive World titles from 1961 to 1965. China won 23 out of 32 medals in the 1965 World Table Tennis Championship and was deemed the strongest table tennis nation. Due to the Cultural Revolution, Chinese players did not participate in the 1967 and 1969 World Table Tennis Championships.

1971 was an important year for table tennis in China. It was the year when China re-emerged in world table tennis with Ping Pong Diplomacy. The Chinese invited American and England players to China for a series of friendly matches. The Chinese players won 10 out of 32 medals in the 1971 World Table Tennis Championship.

ping pong diplomacy us china relations

China dominated the 1973 World Table Tennis Championship, ranking first in the men’s singles with 9 out of 32 medals. But the domination of Chinese players was shaken in the 1975 World Table Tennis championship. Then, the Chinese were unable to win men’s singles titles for the first time.

However, they secured a total of 5 out of 32 medals in the 1975 world championship. Here we share the Chinese table tennis rankings by World Championships since 1926.

World Table Tennis Championships (1926-2018)

chinese players dominate table tennis table men women singles medals

The Chinese stayed consistent in the 1977 World Table Tennis Championship, securing 17 out of 32 medals. 1979 was yet another year of Chinese players dominating table tennis. The Chinese won 4 out of 7 titles in the 1979 World Table Tennis championship. They secured 20 out of 32 medals. 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1987 were the years of China’s total triumph in table tennis. The Chinese players won all 7 events and consecutively secured the most medals from 1981 to 1987.

China’s dominance in World table tennis championships continued onwards, hailing with the best table tennis World Champions in the 20s. Zhang Jike, Wang Liqin, Wang Hao, and Xu Xin were notable players from 2001 to 2013, making the nation unbeatable in table tennis. The 2015 World Table Tennis Championship took place in China for the fifth time.

The Chinese players kept dominating the championship by winning most of the world titles. Also, they score the highest number of medals.

The Three-Tier Approach To Developing Table Tennis Champions

No such country has invested nearly as much as China in developing table tennis players for the national team. The three-tier infrastructure of table tennis in China provides a step-by-step approach to producing world champions in table tennis.

The first tier starts by picking young Chinese talents from table tennis college, the only college dedicated in the world solely to table tennis. Apart from that, each school in China has at least one table tennis training club where kids start training from age 6.

Almost 20,000 competitive young Chinese athletes with the hope of ascending to the second tier, the provincial team. Only 263 join the Chinese provincial team among thousands of young talents, and only 100 of the best players make it to the Chinese Table Tennis National Team.

A Year-Round Competition Between Various Leagues And The National Team

China’s table tennis domination in the world brews from their home, where 10 million players compete to secure their position on the Chinese National team.

Only a selected few make it to the Chinese national team. There’s pressure even after being part of the national team. That’s because there is always a potential player outside waiting to get in the national team.

Setting The Highest Targets

China imbues its players with an unbreakable commitment to one sport, be it table tennis or a power sport, and all through the year, they are trained to be world champions in table tennis. The Chinese recognize themselves as superior in only sports at the international level, table tennis.

Table tennis in China is about securing the most golds at the World Table Tennis Championship and particularly at the Olympics. As of the 2020 World Table Tennis Championships, China ranks first, with 40 titles and holding 405 out of 1483 medals since joining the World Table Tennis Championship in 1953.

China continues table tennis supremacy by ranking as the 1st country with the highest number of medals in the table tennis Olympics. In addition, as of the 2020 Olympics Table Tennis Championship, China ranks first, holding a total of 60 out of 115 medals since table tennis was introduced to the Olympics in 1988.

China’s rival, South Korea, stands with a big difference by holding a total of 18 medals, and Japan ranked third, securing only eight medals.

chinese players dominate table tennis table number of olympic medals by country

Intensive Table Tennis Training Programs

Why are Chinese people good at table tennis? 

Chinese players train at least seven hours a day and six days a week. The Chinese coaches implement functional training involving both severe practice and physical training. The Blue Partnership is another Chinese standalone table tennis training program for the national team.

The players work with specialized practice partners who have spent years studying the style of top international players. They gain insights into competitors by going to tournaments and creating relationships.

For example, during the 1980s, Cheng was asked to clone Tibor Klampar and later to clone Jan-Ove Waldner. Hao Shuai was asked to clone Timo Boll, and Wang Jian was asked to imitate the most dangerous opponent, Ryu Seung-min.

chinese players dominate table tennis sports hall with coach

Two-on-one practice is another innovative Chinese table tennis training method. This training method is for the best Chinese players. They do drills with two selected practice partners, experts in forehand and backhand tactics. This training method pushes the best players to their limits as they practice with the strongest forehand and backhand players.

However, the simplest difference that sets a competitive advantage for Chinese table tennis training is that the players focus on mastering the foundation techniques. The beginners keep practicing the fundamentals of basics repetitively to build muscle memory.

Comprehensive Tactical And Mental Training

As for the Chinese team, it is common practice to have one tactical meeting with sports psychologists each week. China’s sports psychologists often work with the coaches to devise strategies for opponents.

The Continuous Innovation In Table Tennis

Shi Zhihao, the former Chinese table tennis player and the Vice President of the International Table Tennis Federation, states that the spirit of innovation is the secret weapon of China’s dominance in table tennis. China stands forefront of table tennis innovation, from table tennis equipment to inventing new table tennis tactics.

Chinese statistics from 2000 show that 61% of the global table tennis innovation in table tennis techniques and tactics is from China. China’s 5-year blueprint for 2021 to 2025 aims to increase Chinese sponsorship to raise recognition and confidence among their players.

Technological innovation has been a driving factor in training and improving the performance of Chinese table tennis players. For example, China innovated the world’s first AI-enabled table tennis ball pitching robot known as Pongbot.

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The robot can imitate the style of different players like Timo Boll and stimulate training. Digital technological innovations in table tennis like these certainly provide a competitive advantage to Chinese table tennis players.

Chinese Players Represent As The Best Players Oversee

Scores of Chinese table tennis players have gone abroad to take their superior skills and win titles in other countries. Chinese players make up the biggest proportional number of the best table tennis players globally, with Chinese-born players thriving globally.

The recent explosion in the popularity of table tennis worldwide has resulted in Chinese players representing dozens of countries, from Canada, Qatar, and Australia to the Congo Republic.

The sudden surge of Chinese table tennis players migrating overseas sparked at the Rio Games, where Chinese-born players represented 21 out of 56 countries, of which at least 44 table tennis players out of 142 were Chinese-born.

The huge number of Chinese-born table tennis representing other nations illustrates China’s influence around the globe.

Chinese Players Dominate With A Strong Attacking Style

The Chinese are known for their first three shots and their outstanding ability in serving and receiving. Chinese players always dominate rallies from the first three strokes in global competitions.

Chinese players will immediately seize the opportunity with their high skills in forehands and backhands and excellent timing when servicing. Some opponents will serve and then aggressively hit the ball with a follow-up shot after the opponent returns it.

Others will take their opponents off guard by hitting quickly and quickly after receiving such service.

The Role Of The Chinese Government in Leading The Chinese Players Dominate Table Tennis Worldwide

Why is table tennis popular in China once again?

Given that table tennis is valued as a national sport in China. The athletes excelling at table tennis earn huge government incentives. Table tennis in China is predominantly government-driven. Government bodies administer the sport and funnel money into it to achieve international recognition.

From the grassroots level to the national level, a system is in place that supports and encourages Chinese players to participate in table tennis training with enthusiasm.

In addition, the Chinese government spends a lump-sum amount on table tennis training. Many provincial colleges and universities provide scholarship opportunities. Also, finding a job with a national table tennis certificate is easy for the Chinese.

chinese players dominate table tennis national team with medals

All these factors keep Chinese table tennis athletes highly motivated to prosper and secure the title of national-level table tennis. The Chinese government is also known to pay a substantial wage to the national team and special training fees to squads. With the government’s support, the Chinese Table Tennis Association also boosts Chinese confidence by hosting a series of national championship tournaments.

A vital component driving Chinese domination in table tennis is the government’s approach to promoting table tennis globally, which started with the Ping Pong Diplomacy.

Chinese Players Dominate Table Tennis – Support Of The Nation

In 1971, the Chinese started inviting American and England table tennis players for a series of friendly matches in China. Since then, the nation has continuously developed its friendship with other nations. The People’s Republic of China strengthens its global presence by making donations to South America and Turkey. The most recent donation made by China was seen this month.

The Chinese Embassy donated the second set of 50 table tennis tables and complementary equipment to the Education Ministry of Guyana to develop the Chinese national culture of table tennis. In addition, most of the ITTF-sanctioned equipment is from China.

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Another reason China dominates table tennis is that the nation is set to become the global leader in the sports industry. The remarkable success of Chinese table tennis players is making the sport a viable opportunity for the government.

In the last decade, the Chinese sports industry and the number of active people (and the money they’re spending) have grown substantially. And when it comes to setting projections for the future of table tennis, the Chinese authorities are known to target very high.

The Chinese government has announced that they are targeting $773 billion in economic benefits by 2035 and will grow sports engagement in China by 38.5% by 2025. China is targeting to become the global leader in sports by 2050.

How The World Views Chinese Players Dominating Table Tennis

Does the world view Chinese players’ dominance in table tennis as a threat?

Nations might find it difficult to top the Chinese supremacy in table tennis to win championships and titles. However, China is the only country striving to nurture table tennis culture internationally, making it a friendly nation to the world.

In addition, the Chinese Table Tennis Association views its standalone championships and dominance in table tennis as somewhat monopolistic, which can be detrimental to the worldwide development of table tennis. Firstly, China is now considering training international players by inviting them to the nation.

Secondly, sending Chinese coaches abroad to spread their culture and share their knowledge leads Chinese players to dominate table tennis worldwide.

Table Tennis In China: Frequently Asked Questions

What is table tennis called in China?

In China, the official name of table tennis is Pīngpāng qiú or Ping Pang Qui in English.

When did table tennis become popular in China?

Table tennis in China was first introduced in 1901. The sport was declared the national sport in 1950 by Chairman Mao. Table tennis became popular in 1953, when China entered the World Championships for the first time, and the Chinese Table Tennis Association joined the ITTF.

Why is table tennis China’s national sport?

Table tennis is China’s national sport because Chairman Mao decided that it was the most viable sport to boost people’s confidence. The Great Leader realized that table tennis is a good sport for many Chinese people. So, it is the most practical sport that the Chinese can master.

Hence, he declared it the national sport in China in 1950. After three years after the declaration, Chinese players made the first step into the World Table Tennis Championship.

Why are Chinese table tennis players very good at the game?

It is not only because it is the national sport. The reason is that Chinese table tennis players go through intensive training programs for a long time. Secondly, they start basic table tennis training at a very early age. For example, Ma Long, is the greatest table tennis player of all time.

At ten years old, Ma Long won the 1988 “Baby Cup” in a national tournament for young players in his primary school. When he reached 18, Ma Long won the 2006 World Team Championships becoming the youngest-ever world champion.

How many registered table tennis players are in China?

At least 124 Chinese-born players have represented other countries in the Olympics. However, 77 registered Chinese table tennis players are found in the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) database. Wayback Machine (archive.org).

Who are the best Chinese table tennis players of all time?

Ma Long is the greatest Chinese table tennis player in the world. On the other hand, Chinese table tennis history shows that Rong Guotuan was the first Chinese world champion. You can see the best table tennis players in the world here.

From then on, China has been hailing both the Olympics and World Table Tennis Championship with more than 30 table tennis medal leaders. The top Chinese table tennis players are: Ma Lin, Fan Zhendong, Zhang Jike, Wang Hao, Fang Bo, Ding Ning, Guo Yan, Liu Shiewen, Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha has been leading the Chinese Golden Dragon to dominate the world championship till 2020.





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