So in swimming yelling before a race is disallowed because any loud noises at the starting block could be mistaken for the starting gun, leading to false starts (such as with Sun Yang in London 2012). In tennis, yelling is one of those contentious issues (so much so that there is an entire Wikipedia article on the subject
) but the general consensus is that it is up to the referee to determine if it is distraction and to punish accordingly. It isn t against the rules per say, just frowned upon, and up to the referee to decide. Where as table tennis, the Cho! ( or ball in chinese) is used to indicate that a mistake has been made by the other player (like yelling Point! ), sort of like the fencing scream/yell after a touch. In both sports, it is part of the culture, used to sway a ref call, psych opponents out, and release some energy (since both sports are high concentration, fine motor skill sports). Admittedly in both sports, some athletes yell more than others (some save it for a truely close points, others do it after every single hit) but it is considered part of the sport (in fact people have written articles about the art of yelling in both sports), unlike in say for tennis or swimming where it a distraction plain and simple.
Li XiaoXia s yelling may seem excessive to some, but I think it is reasonable considering how much she is scoring (her opponents yell to when it is their point). Honestly, it is just all part of the game. The Table Tennis Art of Cho-ing (Video: Wang Liqin (red) vs. Xu Chenhao (yellow) at the 2013 Japan Open) It s not uncommon for athletes to give a shout here and there either after they ve made a good point or before to fire themselves up – but for the most part, it s quite seldom and consists of something along the lines of yeah! or come on!. But pretty much everyone who watches a professional table tennis match for the first time will ask the same question: what is it that those athletes are shouting after every point? The answer is, for the most part, cho! , and yes, they do shout it after practically every point. In fact, it has almost become a sort of tradition or culture for table tennis athletes to scream cho! after every won point as a means of self-encouragement and tension-relief. When I went to China to train for a summer, the coaches at one point gathered us all up and told us that she wanted to hear us yelling and cho -ing, for to cho means that you are focused and serious about the match and have the passion to win.
Today, not only professional athletes cho. At any tournament, at any table, you will see players shouting whether they are a 13 year-old girl or a 40 year-old man. In many cases, players even create their own shouting phrase, often something like cho-le (pronounced cho-lay), probably the second most-heard shout in table tennis. Now what exactly does cho mean? Today, it s simply a shout to invigorate yourself and focus on the next point. However, the word cho may have originated from the Chinese word (chou), which can loosely mean whip. In this case, it makes sense for the player to be telling him/herself to whip the ball! , or basically congratulating themselves for a kill shot. Another theory is that it originated from the Chinese word (qiu, pronounced like ch-ee-ou with a soft ch that merges with the ee), which means ball. Sometimes players will say nice shot after a good point, which in Chinese would be hao qiu).
Over time, this phrase may have shortened until just qiu was left, or in a twisted pronunciation, cho. While cho and cho-le are the most commonly shouted phrases in table tennis, a close third (which I ve observed to be slightly more favored by females) is sa!. Here is a of Ariel Hsing with a serve and a sa! Like cho, the meaning of the word sa! is for the most part lost, but theories of its origination also leads to Chinese roots. The Chinese word (sha) may be pronounced as sa in certain regions, and means to kill. In table tennis, sa! would have a similar meaning to cho, as in nice kill shot!. The cho -ing in table tennis has gotten to a level where not only is it used to pump yourself up, but can also be used as a method to distract and annoy the opponent as well. Cho -ing excessively and at the top of your lungs can be somewhat rude and unnecessary, which can cause your opponent to lose their temper and concentration. Moreover, there have been times where it seems as if the two players are almost competing in their cho -ing, each trying to cho louder than their opponent for points. Funny to watch? Yes. Fun to play against? No