Team USA Reflect on Intensity, Professionalism and Endurance of Joint Training with China

By Matt Hetherington | Aug. 24, 2019, 4:10 p.m. (ET)

or the US players who were fortunate enough to share this rare experience in training with the Chinese National Team in closed practice at the University of California – Los Angeles, there has been plenty of observations, lessons learned and knowledge gained over the past 20 days.

At first glance, seeing a hall full of the best players in the world is a dazzling experience. From the moment the players line up and give their full, undivided attention to their coaches at the beginning of the session, you can already see the beginnings of what makes the Chinese team the greatest table tennis team in the world.

The stretching and physical preparation before table training even begins is extensive and thorough, under the guidance of expert trainers and focusing on all the necessary muscle groups to reduce the risk of injury and to maximize flexibility. It becomes very clear how the Chinese team maximize their technical game from a physical standpoint.

The US players cherished the opportunity to be with the team, practicing with the best players in the world and watched by some of the most reputable coaches on the planet.

“It was really great to have this level of training here in the USA and to be with the China team, the level of training was a very high standard for us and there are many things we can take away and learn from for our own game in the future,” says Wu Yue, 2016 Olympian.

Nick Tio, who came here straight from the Pan American Games in Lima found the preparation and focus in training very interesting, particularly in what the Chinese players chose to center on in practice.

“We have seen that the preparation for their practice is very extensive and much more than I have ever done or seen before. I noticed that when they practice they focus a lot more on the first 2 balls instead of open rallying, they prioritize strength in the beginning of the point. This is one of many things learned through this joint training. I hope we can have more opportunities in the future to do this again,” he remarks.

It is certainly a common topic of discussion globally in table tennis, why are the Chinese team the best in the world. Being behind closed doors and seeing the group in closed training really helps answer a lot of these questions. The habits of the team, the level of practice and the expert knowledge of the coaches are all major factors – all combined with a packed daily training schedule, often containing 3 sessions, some coaches pushing their individual students even further on the table or in the gym between times.

“I think the general professional approach to practice is really the key. From the beginning of the session the structure is set and monitored by coaches with a great deal of experience and skill. Players stretch and are very thorough in staying flexible and avoiding potential injuries.

There is also a great deal of intensity in practice and players really break down what they need to focus their practice on, whether it is specific techniques or movements.

The team also have an incredible depth of players in their practice sessions, literally all of the players training here are at the highest levels in the sport,” says US team member Nikhil Kumar, when asked what he believes are the key differences that make China the best players in the world.

Seeing the technical prowess, the incredible footwork and the tactical genius of the players in tournaments around the world is awe-inspiring. See how it all comes together and the sheer amount of work and dedicated required to reach those levels, is mind blowing.

Crystal Wang notes, “the Chinese players are extremely fit. I have trained in province teams in China before so the three sessions and schedule is not too surprising for me, but it was very tiring and took a while to adapt to in the beginning because it was a lot more than I usually train.”

For these players, something of a once in a lifetime opportunity, though one they hope will be possible again in the future.

We sincerely thank the Chinese National Team for accepting our invitation to be here in Los Angeles and providing our athletes with a unique and truly wonderful experience, one they will not forget.

Here you can view the rigorous training schedule for the joint training:
- Full Training Schedule (20 days)
- Daily Training Schedule Breakdown