Below is the text from a brochure provided by this school which I visited in 2000.

Their website is now up (discovered 11/2007) at with updated contact information and more details. If you are interested in training at this school, please contact them directly through their website; apparently the mailing address given below is no longer valid.

Prices are very reasonable by American standards, and they may also be able to provide food/lodging plans. Several people have asked me for more information, but this is the limit of what I know. Let me know if you go and have an experience to report.

Shanghai Cao Yanhua Table-tennis Training School

Shanghai Cao Yanhua Table-tennis School, with the name given by Xu Yinsheng, former chairman of International Table-tennis Association, is the only high-grade new model accommodation school combining specialized table-tennis training with nine-year compulsory education together. With the total school area about 16000 square meters, the school has first class teaching facilities of about 800 square meters, like the football stadium, sports yard, multi-functional classrooms, and students apartments, etc.

The school has a highly qualified teaching team with the former world champion Cao Yanhua as the headmaster, and general captain of China's Table-tennis team Cai Zhenhua as the honorary captain with the scientific training measures, superior teaching facilities, and well-connected distribution ways, the school is operated smoothly and steadily only after one year. The school adheres to the principle that students' level academic studies and specialized subjects be improved at the same time. The school will meet the needs of modern society and cultivate high-qualified table-tennis player. The school is open up to students of different ages all year round. Students from all parts of the country are warmly welcome.

Shanghai Cao Yanhua Table-tennis Training School is located near the government of Yang Hang Town in Bao Shan District, 15 kilometers away from Shanghai Railway Station, 25 kilometers from Hong Qiao airport. It has a convenient traffic situation and fresh air is around it. Students of all grades home and abroad are welcome to study there.

Address: YangHang Town, Bao Shan District, Shanghai
Zip code: 201901 (China)
Telephone: 021-56800710, 021-56801004
Fax: 021-5680-0710.

Further description

Above is the direct text of the descriptive brochure. The brochure also includes pictures of students two-bedroom rooms, shared living rooms, and classrooms, of the entry way, of both ground-level and birds-eye views of the school grounds including the soccer field, a streetmap for local directions, the 18-table gymnasium (you can't quite make out the big picture of Chairman Mao with pingpong paddle on the wall), and pictures of the sponsoring big names of pingpong: Xu Yinsheng, Cai Zhenhua, and the schools' famous and beautiful namesake, the year-after-year (in the 1980's) women's World Champion of table tennis, Cao Yanhua (who happens to be from Shanghai).

Personal notes

I personally give this school a very high recommendation and would suggest it as a great idea for both adults and young players in the US and around the world, especially if you can stay for a week or a month. But there are a couple of things you'll need.

First, I would recommend that any non-Chinese-speaking person that goes should take at least a semester or two (or four!) of Chinese language studies. It's true that you don't need a lot of Chinese to be able to understand instruction in table tennis, but life will be much easier for you if you can say at least simple things like "Please give me directions to such-and-such place", and then understand them, so you can get around and also avoid being rude. I think that they spoke Mandarin at the school, from what little I could tell, and also since they had kids there from all over China. The local Shanghai dialect is quite different and can even be mutually incomprehensible, but I'd say you should study Mandarin Chinese before you go.

Second, if you go, you should go with the ego of a student, that is to say, you should be prepared to lose a lot. The way you learn a rich, complicated, technical sport like table tennis is to play with people that are better than you are, in order to learn from them. So having the desire to play with people that can easily beat you is one of the most important things a learner must have, for their ultimate success. But it can be a challenge to face one student after another who is at the level these students are. The skill level of the average kid in this school is, by my semi-expert estimate (I'm a 1600-level player in the US), something like their age times 200 points (in the US rating system). Each one of them individually, I believe, would be the National Champion of their respective age group if they were in the US. For example, I was easily beaten by the nine-year-old players there; I could barely get 8 points in a game, which matches my normal scores against 2100 level players in the US. The kids seemed to be having good fun, but they were also quite serious about and competitive in their sport. All of them had been "playing" (i.e., playing a lot) for at least three years before coming to the school, including even the 7-year-olds, who were very cute and adorable, and much loved by their teachers, but also very competitive in the gym!

Surprisingly, since I expected that Chinese players would use the Chinese (penhold) grip instead of the (American and European) shakehand grip, it turns out that most of the kids played with the shakehand grip at this school; the coaches told me that it is easier to learn. Another surprise, I saw a student using a between-the-fingers grip, similar to the penhold grip in that the blade is squeezed between forefinger and middle finger, but with an extra-short handle butting up against the heel of the palm; he was a very serious player, one of the 10-year-olds, and from what little I saw, a legitimate 2000-level player (in the US rating system). Although the large majority of kids are boys, there are a number of girls there too, probably about 15 percent of the student population, and also half of the coaches and probably more than half of the academic-subject teachers were women. In the academic rooms, I saw both Chinese characters and the Roman alphabet (probably for the Pinyin writing system), so it might be a great place for a kid to enroll for a term and learn Chinese along with everything else.