Are Table Tennis Robots Really worth it?
Author: Kevin James, Last Updated on: 05/07/2019
Looking to up your game and improve your fitness levels? Unable to clock enough training hours? Or, maybe you want to practice to avenge for the losses at office discreetly? Well, whatever be the case, a table tennis robot (also referred to as Ping Pong Robots) can help you with all of that and more.
In this post, we'll talk about the advantages and limitations of these robots.
A table tennis robot can feed balls at the same spot repeatedly and consistently which neither your training partner or coach can. This helps to practice repetitive shots, quickens your learning curve, and develops muscle memory.
Although the robots can't replace a coach but it can sure be your friendly training partner. It can help you hone your skills without worrying about your partner canceling or showing up late. The robot is available for practice 24x7, doesn't get tired and can be programmed to suit your training needs.
The robot isn't a magic machine which will drastically improve your game right from start. However, it can do wonders, as long as you put in the effort and plan your training correctly.
Let me explain.
A table tennis robot doesn't have a brain of its own, and you need to choose what kind of drills you want to practice. If you're just looking for a fun yet competitive machine to play with, well it can do that. But for advance-level of training, you need to chalk out the custom drills for effective practice.
Simply put, a robot is as good as you use it. You can buy the costliest robot, but without a proper plan, the robot won't be of much use to you.
The more balls you hit, the better you get, and a table tennis robot is perfectly capable to that or is it?
Let's find out:
+ Engaging cardio workout
Cancel your gym membership because training as less as 15mins on the robot can help you lose over 100 calories and set your heart beating at 150 beats/min. The robot offers a great cardio workout routine while working at your table tennis game. At the same time, it helps in building hand-eye coordination, stamina, and endurance.
+ Groove your Strokes
The robot can tirelessly feed balls to you at the same location with consistent speed and spin, helping you practice same shot over and over again. This practice by repetition helps in building consistency and accuracy in your strokes. This enables you to practice on your weaker areas and convert your weakness into your strengths.
Even the best of coaches can't feed the ball in the same exact way each time.
+ Suits all player types
Whether you're a pro, just starting, or somewhere in the middle, the table tennis robot makes a great companion. You can adjust drills as per your liking, offering you full versatility and control over the training. In professional robots, you can even program your own custom drills with the option to adjust speed, spin, and placement.
Beginners can set the robot to practice basic strokes. Advanced players can program the robot to shoot balls at random location with varying degree of difficulty.
+ Practice what you want, when you want and as much as you want
The robot doesn't get bored nor gets tired and can feed balls to you all day long. At the same time, you can customize various ball parameter and design your own drills to suit your training - from basic strokes to advanced gameplay.
And the best part is that you can practice without a training partner whenever the time permits.
A good table tennis robot, let's your program various ball parameters to imitate human and match like situations. You can adjust the ball speed, spin, height, location, and design custom drills based on your training needs. Maybe you're struggling with your backhand loops or any other specific stroke - you can program the robot to help you practice the particular stroke and decide your own pace.
In the more advanced robots, you also have the option to store custom drills in robot memory, random-play mode, and ability to practice serve returns.
+ Cheaper than hiring a Coach
While a robot can never replace a coach, but it can definitely compliment your training and quicken your learning curve. A typical coaching session from an experienced coach costs about $50/hr.
You can implement whatever you learned in your coaching session during robo-practice and try to perfect it. This way, you not only get more value out of the coaching, but you can also improve your technique significantly faster.
- Upfront Cost
The biggest downside of a table tennis robot is the cost. A beginner to an intermediate robot can cost anywhere from $500 to $1000 while professional robots cost $1500+. Cheaper robots in the range of $100 to $200 don't have enough features for any serious practice while the costlier robots above $2000 are best suited for professional players.
I suggest looking for robots in the range of $500 to $1500 as it offers a fine balance between features and pricing. However, if you consider the amount of practice you get, the price is well justified.
- Lacks human-like randomness
At the end of the day, it's still a robot and its predictable. While the advanced robots have the random-mode but it still cannot compete with the human counterparts. Practicing on the robot can be quite monotonous after-a-while as the robots don't have a brain of their own and are predictable. This is especially applicable in robots which don't have the option to design custom drills.
This is not a con as-per-se but more of a feature. The robots are primarily designed to improve your form, rhythm, and technique by offering consistent ball throw. So you see, as long as you know what you want to practice on the robot, you should be fine. But if you're looking for a robot which can imitate like a real opponent, throwing random balls at you, then you're better of practicing with a coach or a training partner.
- You may develop a lousy technique
A robot can not tell if you're practicing with a right technique or posture. If you're technically sound, practicing on the robot can help bring consistency in the shot and improve your overall game. But if you practice with a wrong technique, you may end up picking bad habits which may be difficult to fix later on.
It's a good idea to mix coaching sessions along with the robo-practice to keep a check on your technique and posture.
The benefits of table tennis robots outweigh its cons. The robot can help to improve your game, bring consistency in your shots, and improve your reflexes. As long as you practice with the right technique, you can really improve and progress in the sport.
That being said, I personally feel a table tennis robot is a worthy investment for players of all skill levels.
Check out our ping pong robot buyer's guide along with the top recommendations.