What Do Table Tennis Players Shout and Why?

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I recently had the opportunity to attend a professional table tennis match. After a rally, it was common to hear the players shout words that I wasn’t familiar with. I was curious about what they meant and decided to do some research on it.

Players shout many things but the two main terms they use are “cho” and “let”. Cho is a word used to celebrate a players own hit. When let is called, the points scored during the rally do not count.


Cho is the Chinese word for ball. Because table tennis is so big in China players got into the habit of copying their celebration word. Hoa cho was the original phrase which means good ball but because hoa is such an open-mouthed term that is hard to make out it got shortened to cho.

Celebrating during a game has become a controversial topic over the most previous years. In football, it has become practically illegal. In table tennis it is still debated but overall most every professional player calls cho.

It’s all about practicing good sportsmanship. If you’re very excessive about it then the umpire might give you a warning for being too distracting. You are allowed to do it at a normal volume that doesn’t rub it in your opponents face.

It’s also common for players to apologize after a play. This usually happens when a player scores because of luck (tapping the edge of the table). Pointing your index finger up is acknowledging that you wouldn’t have been able to hit the ball in the same circumstances.


Let is used during times when a server’s serve hits the net but manages to get to the other player’s side or when the player serves before the other player is ready. Usually the umpire calls let but it can also be called by the players if the umpire didn’t get a good view of the hit.

Let is the only thing that players can say during rally. Players aren’t allowed to say anything else until the rally is over because it is considered to be a distraction to their opponent and the umpire. Usually when a distraction occurs the players must replay for the point.

Players can only call let during game play. If a player fails to call let when the let occurred then the play will be scored. However, if the person who called let is the one who got the point they get to decide if they want a replay or if they want to keep their points.

In higher-level table tennis leagues, consequences can be quite large if you make a distraction during a game. Typically, the umpire will give the offending player a yellow flag (a warning) on their first offense but any other offense made after that will be cause to go to the referee to discuss if automatic forfeit would be a just consequence.

Related Questions:

Is Table Tennis the National Sport of China?

National sports are not actually an official thing. Nations might be known for being really good at playing a particular sport but they do not have any claim to it. China does have a lot of amazing table tennis players but they are also very involved in a lot of different sports.

Baseball has become a very big thing in China over the last century as well as soccer. Overall, China has always placed high in a lot of different Olympic events. It’s a large country with a lot of people who can do a lot of things.

How Many Let Serves Are Allowed?

It all depends on what league that you’re playing for but for most of them they only allow for one let serve. If done more than once in a row then the point will go to the opposing side. A let serve refers to the ball hitting the net before it goes onto the other players side.

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