Table Tennis Robot Basics

What are Table Tennis Robots

What is a Table Tennis Robot?
A table tennis robot is basically a machine that feeds you balls from the other side of the table, in an attempt to simulate the balls you receive from a real opponent. The robot can shoot balls at you with a variety of speeds and spins, on a single or multiple locations on the table. Many will come with a net that catches the balls, and some can feed these back into the robot, for continuous operation.

How much room does it take up?
If you wish to use one at home, you obviously need a table and sufficient room for both for the table and robot, and also for you to play and move around in. Luckily the robots tend to take up little room behind the table, so in areas with restricted room, where playing with 2 people may be not be viable, there is usually still be enough room to play against a robot. A robot is usually fixed to the end of the table, or sits on top of it, so you can push that end of the table right to the wall. Since you have full control over where the robot projects the balls, you can make it fit into even the tightest areas and still make it usable.

How can Robots benefit you?
No doubt everyone can benefit from the use of a robot, if they use it sensibly. However don’t be fooled into thinking that a robot can be used as a complete substitute for an opponent or a coach, as it cannot do this. Robot are ideal for practicing an specific stroke or routine, as it can give you the same ball with the same spin over and over again. It will allow you to master a stroke more quickly and efficiently, but it is important that you get the stroke right first, or you’ll be practicing and re-enforcing a bad habit, that can be very tough to un-learn! This is where a few lessons with a coach can come in very handy, and the use of the robot is ideal for practicing and re-inforcing what you’ve learned! Still it will help your reflexes and coordination enormously, which will likely pay off even if you don’t get any coaching.

Robots are also ideal for practicing a routine or footwork, or even for improving your speed, reflexes and coordination. You can setup a certain footwork or stroke routine, and practice it over and over again. As you learn the basics, you can speed it up, as high speed ation will be required at higher levels. Higher level players do have a lot of “set-plays”, where they serve or play a certain ball to receive a certain return which they can attack. Robots are fantastic for practicing such routines so that if your opponents returns this type of ball, you’re in the best position to take advantage of it.

Finally a robot can be great for exercise and improving your fitness level. You can set the speed at which it feeds you balls on ‘random’ positions on he table, encouraging to move you feet, and using a wide range of muscles. This can not only help you lose weight or improve your fitness, but it can also help your technique and footwork in table tennis as an added bonus!

Although many robots have a oscillating head allow it to feel the balls from one side on the table to another, and some even have programmable features allowing you to change the spin and speed/placement from one ball to another, the balls will also be predictable (once you’re used it), which is the major difference compared to a real opponent. Smart opponents will adjust their game and vary their returns, which is something a robot simply cannot do.

As long as you understand the limitations of a robot, and take advantage of the features that it does offer, it can be a great asset or investment to improve you game or fitness! If you need more convincing (or you need to convince a partner, parent or coach!), read the section on Robots – the greatest benefits. If you’re already convinced and need some information on the features that are important for robots, read on to Choosing a table tennis Robot.