Table tennis is a game people love all around the world. The popular sport has been around for over a century. It is played for fun, like friendly matches between friends and family, and competitively, like tournaments. And, you can choose to play it both indoors and outdoors.
If you have an interest and skill in the game, you probably already own a pair of table tennis rackets, balls, and a table. The equipment enables you to practice your skills, so you can perform better in the next match. However, it is very rare to find a training buddy with the same schedule, goals, and determination as you.
A table tennis robot can help you out in this situation. Of course, it can’t replace a determined practice partner, but if you want to polish your table tennis skills and don’t have a regular partner to train with you, the machine is going to prove useful. This guide covers all the basics you need to know about ping pong robots.
What is a Table Tennis Robot?
A table tennis robot is a machine programmed to throw ping pong balls towards a fixed net opposite it at exact speed. It throws at intervals, and can be set differently to be able to throw balls at topspin, backspin, left sidespin, right side spin or any way. As it shoots balls, you practice your strokes as if playing with a human training partner.
Its robotic consistency makes it very efficient for improving your stroke mechanics. You can program it to work like a real coach. It is an ideal practice partner because it doesn’t get tired, doesn’t complain and doesn’t take up much space. Though you will need lots of ping pong balls.
What Can a Table Tennis Robot Do?
In order to fully understand its advantages, you have to first learn what a ping pong robot can do. They are available in different variations. The entry-level models are only capable of basic functions: changing ball frequency, spin, and placement. The top-of-the-line table tennis robots are powerful computer systems with numerous spin and speed variations, as well as programmable training drills.
So, here is what a table tennis robot can do:
A table tennis robot can alter the frequency of balls it throws towards you. Most of the models currently available on the market can shoot up to 80 balls per minute, while more advanced models can shoot well over a hundred balls. You can adjust the frequency according to your skill level. For example, as a beginner, you can start with 25 balls and increase the frequency as you improve.
Almost every ping pong robot is designed to shoot balls in different directions. The basic ones may only shoot at two positions, but advanced robots can shoot in multiple directions. Both can mix up the position for each ball to train you better.
3. Spin Variation
Table tennis robots can also shoot backspin, topspin, sidespin, or floating shots. The change of spin in each shot gives you a more realistic ping pong playing experience. Not all entry-level training robots are able to do it all. You’ll need to purchase a top-of-the-range model to be able to play with multi-spin balls.
Ping pong training robots can adjust the speed at which they throw balls at you. Beginners can choose a slower speed, while more experienced players can have it shoot balls at a higher speed. Some models can also vary the ball speed with every throw. This means you may get one faster ball and then one slower ball.
Table tennis training robots can also replicate a service throw. They have adjustable heads that you can tilt downwards. When it shoots a ball, it will first bounce on robot’s side to mimic a real ping pong serve.
6. Random Play
Another thing a table tennis robot can do is randomize the shots to give you a more realistic playing experience. In this mode, you get balls at random placement, random speed or random spin or everything completely random.
7. Pre-programmed Training Drills
Some ping pong training robots come programmed with training drills, where the robot will shoot balls in a pre-set sequence. You can use this feature to improve your strokes and response time.
8. Programmable Training Drills
More advanced training robots let you program your own training drill. You can choose a specific order of speed, spin, frequency, and placement with which the robot will shoot the balls at you.
9. Ball Recycling
Table tennis robots also come equipped with a collection net which funnels the ball back into the robot. With such models, you don’t have to collect and reload the balls yourself. The robot will keep reloading itself, so you can enjoy an uninterrupted play.
Of course, not every ping pong robot can do it all. Some of these functions are specific to advanced models. That’s why you should prioritize the functions you prefer and go for the model that best suits your budget and needs.
How to Choose a Good Table Tennis Robot?
Now that you know what a table tennis robot can do, let’s explore some of the important aspects that you should consider when buying one. Have a look!
1. Your Skill Level
Before spending your hard-earned money on a robot, consider if you really need it. If you have just started out, it would be better to take some coaching lessons first to go through the basics. Not all beginners can handle a table tennis robot because the shots can be too fast and powerful for many. Once you have mastered the basic table tennis strokes, and can play consistently, only then should you consider investing in a tennis robot.
Capacity refers to how many ping pong balls a training robot can hold. The higher it is, the more balls it can hold. The capacity of a table tennis robot has a profound effect on how often you need to pick up balls and refill the robot. Choose a model with more capacity if you want to play longer.
Some models also have a recycling net that can automatically collect and reload the balls to the machine. This feature allows you to play non-stop without having to do this mundane task yourself.
3. Shot Selection
A table tennis robot can adjust shots it is throwing towards you. It can shoot at a specific speed, spin, placement, and frequency. Some can even randomize the shots to provide you with a more realistic experience. Of course, not all ping pong robots can do it. Some can only shoot in limited variations, i.e. in specific directions, frequency, spin variation, and speeds.
Most tennis robots can give you the basic types of ball spin and combine them all. Some can’t do backspin, so they will be useless if you want to improve on backspin serve receive or against chopper style shots. Most expensive ping pong robot models can mimic all kinds of spins.
Considering the shot selection features of your robot can help you improve on how to react when presented with random shots in real play.
4. Power Source
This feature is more related to convenience than the performance of the training robot. Do you prefer a battery-operated wireless robot? Or are you more inclined towards a more powerful AC-powered option?
The former robots are easier to carry along while still being able to deliver all types of shots and spins. The latter can provide you with more speed and power without being limited by battery life. Then there are some models that can operate on both sources of power. Think about what is more convenient to you and choose accordingly.
A table tennis robot is a perfect training partner when you don’t have a person to train with. These machines can shoot a lot of balls in various shot selections to help improve your skills as a table tennis player. They can shoot at various speeds, placements, spins, and frequencies, so you can work on your strokes and shots. When choosing a ping pong robot for yourself, be sure to check its capacity, range of shot selection, as well as its source of power. They also vary vastly in terms of price too. When you are sure of what you want, settle on the best model that you can find within your budget.