Liu Guoliang ‘The Greatest Coach Of All Time’ (Arguably)

Liu Guoliang ‘The Greatest Coach Of All Time’ (Arguably)


Many Table Tennis fans will have seen Liu Guoliang on TV, sitting in the corner of the most of the best players in the world, but do many know much about him? TTFit have explored through some articles and interviews to find out a bit more about the great man and his methods.

Liu Guoliang was born in Xin Xiang and is arguably the most successful Table Tennis Coach of all time. He was also a very successful player himself as he won 2 Gold Medals in the 1996 Olympics and also the Men’s Singles in the 1996 World Cup. He also won the World Singles Championships in 1999 and was a member of the Chinese winning team in the 1995 and 1997 World Team Championships.

Here are, after some research, 10 TTFit interesting things about Guoliang we hope you like.

1- His nickname was ‘Legend Liu’ and he was regarded as having one the best technical minds in history, he didn’t just say ‘good shot’ or ‘bad luck’, he could see how a player could turn a match around!

2- In his playing days, Liu used a penhold grip and actually used TSP Short Pimples on his F/H, this rubber was then banned in 2000 due to the pimple height to width ratio.

3- He was the Chinese Head Coach at only 27 years old and was renowned for using tough love on his players, he also taught his players to be humble and grounded. The players respected him and wanted to make him proud. When he left his role as National Coach in 2017, Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin all boycotted their rounds in the China Open in Chengdu, Southwest China to show their support for him.

4- His record is phenomenal:

2008 Summer Olympics: Team Gold, Medal sweep with Ma Lin, Wang Hao, Wang Liqin
2012 Summer Olympics: Team Gold, Zhang Jike and Wang Hao Gold and Silver respectively
2016 Summer Olympics: Team Gold, Ma Long and Zhang Jike Gold and Silver respectively
China won the World Singles Team Championships in the period from 2001-2018 under his guidance.
Simply incredible!!

5- There was a story, that during a period when Ma Lin was showing poor attitude and lack of motivation in practice matches he arranged a match between Lin and a regular training partner and told him that if he lost then Liu and Ma Long would both have to give the trainer the equivalent of £1,000 in Yuan. Ma Lin didn’t want to let his coach and friend down and soon re found his motivation.

6- Most people believe that all Chinese players are machine like and never feel pressure but Guoliang is very open about the fact the some of his players were nearly paralysed by nerves before big events. ‘Legend Liu’ told them that their goal was just to reach the first round and he would be happy with that, this took all the pressure of their shoulders! Liu knew how to read his players and always seemed to know what to say and how to say it.

7- Liu once said…’When you are playing someone better than you, then the most important thing is to get to 1-1’. His philosophy was that you would unlikely come back from 0-2! Great tip!

8- His tactics are based around the 3rd, 5th and potentially the 7th ball when serving. Being positive on the 3rd ball was key to his Coaching but not necessarily going crazy on the 5th and 7th. He also focusses on always taking your opportunity when it comes your way!

9- He was a great believer in taking your time in between points, especially after a very good or bad point! His view was that players can get carried away after winning a spectacular point or become frustrated after a bad shot and both situations can bring lack of focus and clear thinking. So smart!

10- Finally, one of our favourite tips from research about the great man. Guoliang always encouraged his players to have a plan according to the score, eg, 8/7 down is a must win point so fight to the death to win it, whereas if you lose the 8/7 point it’s not so important. At 10/8 up he encouraged more aggression, and if the score went to 10/9 then play with placement and precision.

Some of you may have an opinion of Guoliang and maybe think that as he had most of the best players it was easy for him, but we certainly believe he was and is one of the best Coaches of all time as he seemed to think of everything, including the small details. The players love and respect him and he has the uncanny ability to get the best out of them which is a sign of a great Coach.

Please check out a TTFit friend and true Table Tennis guru Emrat Thich’s (PingSunday) article…Liu Guoliang, Genius Tactics!

We hope you liked our article and are enjoying all our new features!




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