December 5, 2012

Table Tennis Robots

It's that time of year again - time to buy table tennis player table tennis stuff for Christmas! And what better table tennis present than a table tennis robot? Below are some videos describing the various robots that are out there. (You can also buy Butterfly and Newgy robots from Maryland Table Tennis Center - contact Wen Hsu.)

There are basically two types of robots - programmable and non-programmable. Programmable ones cost a lot more, but are a lot more valuable. They allow you set the robot to go side to side, for example, putting the ball alternately in two spots. Or perhaps two to one spot, then one to another. Or just about any other combination. Some can even give backspin and then topspin. With these robots, you can do just about anything.

Non-programmable robots are fun, and good for basic training. They generally can only hit the ball to either one spot, or randomly. I think some may be able to go to two spots - if so, get that one, so you can do side-to-side drills. But you can also do footwork drills with the ball going to one spot. For example, put the ball to your backhand, and alternate backhands and forehands.

You can also have a non-programmable robot hit the ball randomly all over the table by having it oscillate. However, I don't value that too much. In table tennis, you react to the ball coming off the opponent's paddle. Here you have to react to the ball coming out of the robot, which is quite different - and so you could actually develop the habit of hesitating in a real game, where instead of reacting quickly to the direction of an opponent's stroke, you hold back and don't react until you actually see the ball coming at you. So I find robots best when doing more rote drills, where you practice the strokes and footwork, and do the random and more game-type drills with a practice partner or coach.

I use robots regularly in my beginning junior class - the kids love them. They are good for the following:

  • Drilling the basics for beginning and intermediate players. You can practice every shot in the game, from loops and drives against both topspin and backspin, to flipping or pushing against short backspin, to chopping, and pretty much anything else.
  • Footwork drills and physical training (especially if it's a programmable robot that can do various footwork drills).
  • Serve practice (with the convenient net to catch the balls).

Readers, any comments on any of these robots?

Paddle Palace Robots

iPong from JOOLA (3 types)

Newgy Robots (5 types)

Smartpong from Butterfly


AMDT and Oukei (and others) from Megaspin

Amicus and TTmatic (and others) from Ping Pong Depot

2013 North American Cup Host City/Club Bid

Here are the bid specs to bid for this first-time tournament, to be held April 20-21, 2013.

Ariel Hsing Receives American Flag

Here's a picture of USA Women's Singles Champion Ariel Hsing being presented the USA flag that flew at BAGRAM Air Force Base in Afghanistan on the eleventh anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, during Operation Enduring Freedom, on Sept. 11, 2012.

Highlights Video

Here's a nice highlights video (2:08) that'll get your blood going - lots of action and stirring music.

Don't Shorten the Table, Raise the Floor!

But I'm worried what happens if this kid has to move to cover the wide corners.

Send us your own coaching news!