How much will a robot improve my current level of play?

Table Tennis Training and Drills

Last updated 6 years ago

Duncan Wraight

Duncan Wraight Asked 9 years ago

Hi all,

I've sent a couple of questions in now - thanks for answering them all. You can probably track my progress from the questions, I'm now in to my fifth week of play!

I played another competitive game tonight, against some pretty reasonable players, and got fairly well battered. I don't mind, it's useful to see where I'm going wrong. Would be nice to win a couple though ;)

I think I have a basic idea - my backhand is weak and easily attacked; I struggle against medium+ backspin pushes and any form of medium+ backspin that comes long to my forehand.

It's mostly a technique issue - I can generally read the shots well enough, but on the pushes I can't get enough backspin OR control on them and against the longer backspin shots I appear to be entirely unable to loop (though I can do it against topspin).

So.. apologies for the excessive context.. my question is this: at my level of play, would a robot be a worthwhile acquisition?

If so, would you recommend trying to buy one brand new, or looking second hand?

The quality of my practice at the moment isn't the best - age old scenario of players wanting matchplay, or clubs being too busy to get a reasonable density of practice.

Thanks in advance.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 9 years ago

Hi Duncan,

I think robots are good in particular circumstances.  Your may be one.  They are good to just improve the feeling and technique of a stroke when you can't get a regular hitting partner to practice with.

I don't know enough about them to comment too much but you don't need the best on the market to do the things that you are wanting. Just something that is reliable and will feed you the balls consistently.

Other readers may be able to help with the specifics of robots.

Overall though it sounds like you are tracking well.  Shots like the forehand push are awkward at first.  Focus on keeping your shoulder relaxed and mainly using your forearm, wrist and fingers to make the forehand push.  Getting into position to make the shot is also important.  The topspin against backspin again is a good one to practice.  It will become one of the main shots in your game.  Think about the 3 things we emphasise in the lesson on this stroke.  Start lower, brush the ball on contact and finish higher to get a more vertical stroke happening.

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Thoughts on this question

mat huang

mat huang Posted 9 years ago

They are not necessary but it is good when you dont have a club all a training partner

If you are going to buy it, you should buy a one that does not have a lot of function. More functions will make it more hard to use and pricely.

IDK your budget but newgy 540 or 1040 are pretty good

Cloud Cledera

Cloud Cledera Posted 9 years ago

For one, robots are practice partners if your are alone if you can't have a returnboard. Robots have the tendency to plummet the ball towards you giving you a feeling to hit them but only at a certain time (depending on your robot actually). And also, robots are the practice partners incase you can't multiball feed yourself. 

The disadvantages of that is that robots are costy and robots aren't that much of a challenge once you actually get used to it. They just serve there as ball feeders but actual ball feeding isn't necessary that much if you're doing it in an actual person or a more challenging level. 

Which is why I'd like to recommend a returnboard instead. Returnboards have rubbers, which builds almost the exact same level as you do because you are fighting opponents with rubber. Returnboards may cost a little cheaper than robots too, and that you don't need multiple balls to train. These returnboards when practiced with, practices your topspin even at a longer rally range. You can adjust the distance of it to maximize more power, and along with topspin practice, robots usually give just flat contacts of ball.

Your choice.

Duncan Wraight

Duncan Wraight Posted 9 years ago

Thanks for the input Cloud. I'd never even heard of a return board but I've looked it up and found this: Doesn't the return board mean you have to be accurate to ~30cm or however big that board is? I think I'd end up a little frustrated - at my level - if that were the case.

Cloud Cledera

Cloud Cledera Posted 9 years ago

No, it doesn't need to be that accurate. You can look up at some DIY Returnboards on Youtube. Don't worry, its a matter of preference.

Cloud Cledera

Cloud Cledera Posted 9 years ago

Also the link that you showed me, isn't the actual returnboard I am referring. Returnboards are actually two long boards covering the width of the opponent's side. 

mat huang

mat huang Posted 9 years ago

Yeah but a real coach is mostly the best


martinand bernard

martinand bernard Posted 6 years ago

but backspin balls impossible to return,you can to do one it's easy

Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 6 years ago

Return boards are good for practising counterhitting or topspins, but they can feed you backspin balls, which is what Duncan wants to learn returning.

Which robot? I wouldn't buy one that is too basic. The first prices are sometimes not even able to feed both topspin and backspin balls, they can't change direction, etc. Around €500 is a minimum I think. Buying second hand could be tempting, and I'm sure some people buy robots, use them a couple of times, get bored and/or lazy, store them for some years and finally sell them for bargain prices. But be careful, it's really hard to judge if a robot is worn out or not. We have one at our club, it looks very good, but it has multiple small plastic gears inside that are totally worn out, and it's close to useless. So if you buy one, test it, and if you really want to be sure (and the seller allows it), remove the covers and look at the gears, the drives and the rollers. Also make sure that it can be used with 40mm (and now 40mm+) balls.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

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