Why Waldner Jan Ove Is The Best Of All Time

Being called “The Evergreen Tree” may sound odd to some, but not for Jan Over Waldner.

Waldner Jan Ove
Waldner Jan Ove

Jan Ove Waldner has been playing table tennis from a young age. He has the success he never could have dreamed of when he was young. He played the sport for fun.

China has been table tennis’s leading country for decades and ruled the scene until Jan Ove (some call him J-O) worked his way to the table.

Players such as Jean Phillipe Gatien, Jorgen Perrson, and Jean Michelle Saive have followed Jan Ove to the top, and sometimes challenged Jan Ove for his top position.

He has been called many things. “The Evergreen Tree” in China, The Mozart Of table tennis, Lao Wa In China, J-O to friends, and plain old Jan Ove to his family. Say any of those names near a Swede and their ears will perk and their attention will sharpen. They are all proud to be from the same country as J-O.

Jan Ove has been playing table tennis and remained at the top for over 20 years. The only man to have a reign that long. Waldner does not give in to pressure, he simply becomes stronger. Take his World Championship results for example 2 silver medals from the Team Competition, with Team Sweden in 1983, 1985. 1987 brought him a silver medal in Singles and Team Competition.

1989 he brought the first of  2 gold medals with 1 in Team Competition and 1 in Singles. In 1991, J-O lost to fellow Swede, Jorgen Perrson in the Gold Medal match in Singles Competition. He captured gold in the Team Competitions.

His first bronze medal came in 1993 in Singles and again received gold in Team Competitions. His past 2 golds were in 1997 in Singles and 2000 in Team Competitions. It one of the most impressive wins ever for a table tennis player.

During the Olympic games, he made it to the final 8 in 1988, his first Olympics. He came back with a vengeance 4 years later, capturing a Gold Medal. He only saw 1 more medal in his lifetime, it was in 2000 when he won a silver medal but every Olympics has competed.

At the European Championships, he won many medals but some disappointments as well.

The list goes on and on and on …

The Secrets Of Waldner’s Game

Hi, friends! I have noticed something important about Waldi, let me share!


I used to watch videos of top players. Waldner is the most-watched player. Whenever I watch him play, I learn something new. He is like a holy book in a motion picture, whenever I read or watch him.

One thing I want to clear, I know a small part of him. However, if you know more, then share it. I would love to hear from you. Here are the things which made him great.

1. Calmness

Waldner is quite a calm player. This calmness gives him a big advantage in crucial situations. More often, we get chocked in such situations, but Waldi, always cool!

2. Proper Movements

Waldner has no unnecessary movements, no rush for the ball, and has great balance. To know a player’s level, watch his movements. As the level increases, the movement becomes proper. Waldner is a perfect example of it. 

3. Ball Feelings

Waldi is the most admired player for his Ball Feeling. We like to watch him because he has superb feeling. Every ball is played with perfection. He can smell the ball.

4. Blocking Skills

In the modern game, the attacking player gets more advantage. This man is also known for his fantastic blocking skills. Waldner can easily change the direction by his perfect blocking by using his speed and spin.

5. Placements

This aspect is the biggest secret of his dominance Waldner doesn’t place the ball close to the net, and far from the net along with corners. 

I believe corner balls are easier to play than closer and far balls. Waldner, after looping, makes the opponent come closer, then again far (smashes more, top-spins, too), then closer, and then, for the winner! And if the ball still is on the table, the rally continues. He is the player, who has the biggest use of drop shots.

The aim of writing about him is to shed more light on his abilities. Every player should learn from him. 

Waldner’s Masterclass

In the Nittaku Cup 2013, we saw the great J.O Waldner and Jorgen Persson return to the table. Waldner entered a full distance clash with Xu Hui from another top Swedish Club. He put up a great fight with some controversy in the final moments with a camera flash disturbing the timing of a forehand flick.

jan ove waldner
Jan Ove Waldner

Now, one of the main strategies which Waldner has always excelled at is pushing players off the table. This is what is presented in this match. He pushes hard forces Xu to pivot and then plays his signature angled backhand block down the line.

What is special about this play? Well, he is pushing a wide gap between the two balls. The first play wide across the court and the second wide down the line. Waldner does this with sidespin to his backhand block which carries the ball wide off the table.

I think Waldner’s backhand is the weapon here, his forehand appears much less consistent and much weaker than we would have seen in the past and his forehand pivot is very slow, he gets caught out occasionally.

Of course, we also see Waldner throw in a couple of chop blocks which go down well. Chop blocking requires very precise timing and bat angle to get the ball on the table and ensure that it is heavy backspin.

Watching the game shows how important great control can be and a great analytical mind can make use of simple tactics to beat a faster and more agile opponent.


Warren Davies

15 thoughts on “Why Waldner Jan Ove Is The Best Of All Time”

  1. Don’t slit your wrist after i write this, but Waldner was the best. When Waldner hit the gold at 24 the Chinese were world and Olympic champion,liu and kong.,.liu gl never walked away without a medal in his sleeve and Waldner never did that, if liu had the luck of playing in a country like Sweden where they suck liu would do the same feat. check the 2006 Guinness record and wonder why Waldner pics is not there if you argue he is the best of all times.

    1. I think he tries to say that waldner played several tournaments without winning a medal unlike liu.i think waldner only won one time the european tittle

  2. Even in the old days (around ‘90) Waldner earned like 500.000 euro’s a year, too bad he gave it all up on drinking and women.

  3. He’s saying that you have to realise that the other greats (Liu Guoliang, Kong Linghui etc) are all Chinese and as such are under an immense amount of pressure to constantly succeed/keep their spot on the team. If Waldner happened to play for China instead of Sweden he would have been “advised” to retire in the mid-90s.

  4. Yes, but also being from Sweden he had to start the train for Swedish players. He didn’t have other plays competing at the same level as him as you would in China because of the many players from there. There was a few good players from Sweden but not exactly at the level of Jan Ove.

    He was an underdog and wasn’t looked upon to become the best. He just had to say to himself and be determined to be the best on his own will. I’m sure no one was yelling in his ear all the time to be the best ever like the Chinese may hear. (My Opinions)

  5. Yeah, but Waldner has played successfully against 4 generations of chinese players. Kong wasnt forced into retirement. He just started playing lousy. Waldner is a player for all ages.

    He took on lui during his later years in his career and could beat him. Besides, lui’s age would have caught up to him by now. To play his style require an intensity only for the younger and more fit players.

    Waldner was able to adjust his style to fit the changes in the game even as he got older. To say that Kong and Lui could have been better is just cheap talk. Im interested in what is, not what could have been.

  6. Calm, consistent, confident…in brief, TOTAL CONTROL, psychologically and physically. It´s very clear in every match he plays.

  7. jesse labadlabad

    HIs practical/tactical gamestyle…he plays defense…blocks most of the time but can counter attack and perform an all around game

  8. Well if i m not wrong waldner only won 7 times swedish champion playing 20 years minor feat. The fans will praise waldner but wlq won 3 times unmatched feat

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