If you are a table tennis player or maybe just a table tennis enthusiast, then you might have heard a “THUMPP!!!” when players strike their foot onto the ground, right? Ever wondered, why they made that noise? If you want to unravel the secret behind this “STOMP” then this article provides an answer to the question, Why Do Table Tennis Players Stomp their Feet?
What is Stomping?
Basically, when a player hits his feet onto the ground, creating a thud sound, the process is called “Stomping”.
The motion carried out by the player, generates this thud, making any other sound inaudible to the opponent. This motion has a long history attached and has been a root of major controversies in many matches.
Even today, it stands to be a mystery to many of the table tennis lovers across the globe. Some attribute it to be a table-tennis thing, much like how table tennis players touch the table or blow air on to their palms and rackets.
When do Players ‘Stomp’ Their Feet?
Players stomp many a times during the game. However, most of the times, players tend to do this while they are in the motion of serving the ball.
Most players release the ball into the air, and then hit their feet in order to create the thud when the ball touches the racket. This is the most widespread practice, but many times players do this when the opponent is going to take a shot.
Why do Players ‘Stomp’ their Feet?
Stomping has continued to remain one of the most controversial topics in table tennis. In fact, nearly no one actually knows why do players stomp. However, there seem to be some particular reasons or beliefs to why players do so.
One of the beliefs, is that players stomp during the service in order to maintain their equilibrium and balance their body in the motion. It is the natural reaction of the body when the weight is shifted from one foot to the other while spinning the ball and turning your hips.
It is true but, even while maintaining the correct stance, the player need not create a loud thud.
Another belief and the most common one is to conceal the sound of spin during the service.
Most players try to disguise the type of spin they are going to serve. If you are a table tennis player, you will know that opponents usually try to figure out the type of spin in the service and prepare for their response.
So, player create the thud to camouflage their spin and this does not allow the opponent to guess the incoming spin.
This is a trick that has been running in the game for an exceedingly long time. That’s why it is one of the reasons why stomping is considered to be one of the most controversial topics.
Let’s take an example.
You are going to serve the ball and decide to go for topspin, but you do not want your opponent to know.
Then, you stomp your feet onto the ground and make a thud in order to disguise the sound of the spin which makes it difficult for your opponent to understand the service and get ready for the perfect counter.
This also enables you to hide the point of contact while serving making a top spin serve seem like back spin.
There are several other reasons for why players actually stomp, but it varies from player to player.
Each player has their own thinking and type of game, while some consider it a legal thing, others feel the other way around.
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History of Stomping by Table Tennis Players
The history of stomping dates back to the early days of 1970s when people first tried using this technique.
It was the time when rubbers were not strictly black, and red. Multiple combination of rubbers were used in a racket, making it impossible for the opponent to guess the type of spin by the mere sight of the rubber.
Players took a good advantage of this and created the thud sound to hide the spin and the point of contact.
A change was made late in the year 1983, banning the players from stomping on the ground while serving the ball.
This decision was made in order to refrain players from using this technique which was rather considered to be unfair in the world of table tennis.
However, this rule was undone later.
It was the start of July 1986 when the ITTF changed the rules for colors of rubber.
Now only ‘Red and Black’ were considered to be legal and any racket with any other color were not allowed in official matches.
Hence, stomping had once come into action and finally in the year 1991, the ban against stomping was no longer in force.
Players had now began stomping during service once again, and no restrictions were made.
But a few player and enthusiasts felt the technique was cheap and lacked sportsmanship. So, a rule was made that the referee could make the decision on when the stomp was legal and when illegal.
Even today, the same rule is applicable. So, if a player stomps in order to continue his/her motion it is legal, but if a player does it deliberately with unfair tendency then, the referee warns the player.
However, there is no proper convention on its legality.
Legality of Stomping in Table Tennis
Foot-Stomping in the current field is legal until it is done to maintain balance, or it is not as a cause of deliberate action.
The thing to understand is that players might still deliberately continue motion of the service in order to generate balance as well as disguise their service. The sole decision is in the hands of the match referee, who takes in to account the intention of the player.
Hence, the intention behind the stomp matters. The player may stomp the ground but not to his advantage.
Controversies around Foot Stomping in Table Tennis
There have been a number of controversies related to this action in matches both recorded and non-recorded. This was a typical practice for players in the past, but now, the players do not use such tactics and consider it to be an unfair action.
One of the recent recorded incidents is of the 2010 US Nationals Men’s Semi-Finals match, when one of the players deliberately stomped the feet on to the ground, the referee let that go, it went on to become a major issue on biased judgement, but was it actually the referee’s fault is the question to ask.
Often referees are blamed upon for poor judgments in cases like these, but is it really the fault of the referees or the umpires?
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Should YOU Stomp While on the Court?
The answer to this is slightly diplomatic, it is clearly dependent on your intentions.
Modern players do not stomp and also condemn this action. It is not something that is necessary and plays with the rules of the sport.
Also, Why Do Players Shout “CHO!!”?
If you have been following enough table tennis, you must have seen players shouting or yelling something after winning a point or losing one.
This is quite a regular scene in most matches and among players. This is more common among Asian players. They often shout “CHO!!” or “JO-AH”.
But why do they shout “CHO!!”?
This is a phrase often bellowed by Chinese players after winning a point. It is the concatenation of “hǎo qiú”(Hao-Cho).
It translates to “good ball”. Chinese players celebrate their good play by calling out after the shot.
This is something often heard from Korean players after a rally, usually meaning or referring to a ‘good play’
Many times, German players are heard shouting “Ja” after the rally.
Is Calling Out or Shouting Legal in Table Tennis?
This is a question that has been asked by many players, fans and enthusiasts. The answer to this is both yes and no.
According to Rule 18.104.22.168
“The rally shall be a let because the conditions of the play are disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally”
So, if a player is accountable for disturbing an ongoing rally, by shouting or calling out, then the referee will pass a judgement over the call.
Thus, calling it a ‘let’. This only applicable when the rally is on the go and ball is active on the table.
However, after the rally is over, the player can shout out and celebrate their point. Here also certain conditions are applicable
The players must stand to their sportsmanship spirits and always take the right call. They must remember to respect the opponent at all times during and after the game. They mustn’t shout anything that is inappropriate.
They must refrain from passing jokes, lewd comments or innuendoes as well taunting or undermining performances.
After all, it might not be a common deal but umpires have the power to dish out yellow and red cards in table tennis for play like the aforementioned.
Hence, actions and thoughts which bring chaos to the sport must be refrained from. Sports bring people, ideas and skills together, they are meant to be enjoyed and exercise skill and not make a mockery of anyone. We must remember to respect all forms of the game.