Training with playback or a robot

Table Tennis Training and Drills

Last updated 9 years ago

Phil Mittertreiner

Phil Mittertreiner Asked 9 years ago

I'm interested in learning more about practicing using playback. I have an old table that allows playback. The upright side of the table tips beyond 90 degrees which is great for getting a return back on the table. There is however a gap of about 10 inches between the net and the tipped up side. So unfortunately when I hit an ideal shot it returns back into the backside of the net and the rally stops.

I've tried out a few new two piece tables that claim to offer playback. The problem I experienced is that the playback table is at 90 degrees, so a good, hard shot will bounce back beyond the table and again the rally stops. 

I imagine there must be an ideal angle (clearly past 90 degrees) for the playback table, and perhaps an ideal distance for the playback table positioned behind the net. Can you help me with this?

I have another related question. Do expert players ever practice with playback on a table? (it appeared to work for Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump). What angle do they use, and how far back do they position the return half table from the net? 

Yet another related question - how well do the table tennis robots work? Do professionals use them? Do you have any product reviews on them? Any recommendations and things to watch out for?

Thank you!!!



Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 9 years ago

Hi Phil,

You have some interesting questions there.  I think a lot of it can be answered with an answer to your related question.  No expert players ever practice with the playback.  It is good at the very start to develop control of the ball but that is about it.  As soon as you start working with spin it becomes difficult to practice with it.  Forrest Gump was all done with trick photography.

The robots are probably one step up from practicing with the playback. However again no professional players train with a robot.  Whereas it gives you good consistency of feeding, it misses one really vital part of training and that is you aren't seeing the cues from the other player when they are hitting.  You just see a ball coming out.  This can be good for repetitive practice when learning a stroke.

I don't have a lot of experience with robots of any sort but other reader may be able to help you.

If at all possible try to find a hitting partner to train with.

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