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Although none are manufactured in Sydney, a table tennis robot is a recent innovation introduced in the late 1980’s. It is a machine that has the ability to automatically fire table tennis balls from one end of the table to the other end in a controlled manner. Here's how buying a simple robot can improve your game.

They have three main elements:

  • Loading and firing mechanism for the table tennis balls
  • A Control box
  • The expensive robots have accatch net to automatically recycle the balls

There are some models of table tennis robots with a limited number of settings and without any net, and most of them are powered by electricity, so an electric power supply will be required in this case.

How They Work

Varieties of robots are available for purchase and each of them use the same principles though they operate differently.

The firing mechanism is attached to one end of the table tennis table and it’s pointed towards the opposite end of the table. The firing mechanism is loaded with a supply of table tennis balls.

If you have a programmable robot, a control box will either be free-standing or attached to the table and it operates like a TV remote control. The control box enables the programming of the firing mechanism to impart different spins and speed onto the balls as they are fired.

With this mechanism, the robot can be programmed to deliver balls with backspin, topspin, right side-spin, left side-spin, or a combination of spins.

When the robot has been successfully programmed and switched on, it fires balls steadily from the firing mechanism to different positions on the table. The player will then hit the balls back towards the robot but over the net.

This means that the player will be able to choose the type of spins and shots for practice such as backspin, topspin, and side-spin. The speed and frequency of firing the balls can also be adjusted on the control box.

Why You Need a Robot

There are many reasons why a table tennis robot may be of utmost importance.

  • Play without an opponent – Playing with a table tennis robot is better than using a return board if you don’t have a real player to play with.
  • Long practice – With a robot, you can play for as long as you want to until you decide to stop. You’ll also be able to spend more time hitting the balls and learning shots
  • Practice and replicate strokes – You can use the table tennis robot to practice the basic strokes you’ve learnt to get better. Robots deliver the same shot severally so that you can replicate your strokes and you’ll be able to play more strokes within a very short time.
  • Improved footwork – Robots that can be programmed to fire balls to specific locations are the best robots because this will help you practice your footwork
  • Improved weak stroke – The robot can be set to deliver a ball with backspin if you’re an attacking style player but weak against low back spin. This will help improve your stroke against this type of shot.
  • Coaching aid – The robot can be set up to deliver a particular shot while a practice coach only concentrates on the stroke played by the player.
  • Make fun out of Table Tennis – A robot can be a great fun for kids. You can also set up your own competition and tournaments, to win against the robot or other competitors.
  • Exercise and Improve your fitness level – A robot can be programmed to fire balls to different directions on the table continuously at the frequency and speed chosen. This will give you a great workout as you try to hit the ball.

What Robots Cannot Do

The cheap table tennis robots can only be programmed to deliver the same shot with the same spin continuously, that’s why they are good for practicing a specific stroke, and this will help you replicate your strokes quickly and efficiently. But before using a robot to manage your strokes, you must first get your strokes right because the robot is not a Coach. Avoid practicing and reinforcing bad habits which can get difficult to drop.

If your intention of using a robot is to practice your strokes, be sure that you’ve mastered the correct stroke before you begin or get continual advice whether the changes in your stroke are correct.

Only the very expensive robots such as the Butterfly ones can deliver a variety of strokes in a set order or randomly. You can use these robot to self correct your stroke or to practice refining your stroke in a more realistic environment. However, their drawback is that they can be very difficult and time consuming to set up the pattern of ball delivery

If you want to improve your reflexes, fitness, footwork and coordination, a robot is perfect for you.


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