The 5 Best Ping Pong Robots
Not Just For Serious Players
If you're looking for a gift idea for your favorite introvert, they might love one of these robots.
A ping pong robot is designed to train you to improve your game and functions similarly to a tennis ball machine, in that it sends you a steady stream of balls at various speeds and angles, allowing to you get your practice in even when you can't find a partner. While it's easy to see how one of these units is a worthwhile investment for the high-level competitor, they're not just made for the pros.
When you've got a ping pong table collecting dust in your basement, it's tempting to think that the last thing you need is an expensive electronic gadget to sit on top of it collecting even more dust. But whether or not you ever play the game outside of your own basement, even the casual table tennis player could reap surprising benefits from adding one of these machines to their family room, the least of which being you can get a lot more use out of your table because now you can hit some balls even when you're all alone.
Those trying to get into shape who can't stomach another boring run on the treadmill will find a more entertaining reason to get up off the sofa. While time spent honing your table tennis skills isn't likely to replace all your trips to the gym, researchers have found that most of us can derive significant health benefits from short, 10-minute workouts.
Studies have shown that ping pong is just as good for the mind as it is for the body. Playing table tennis stimulates mental awareness, improves reflexes, and helps to develop better hand-eye coordination. If you work from home and find your mind wandering, a couple rounds with a ping pong robot at break time could get you back on track. The game is even considered a drug-free therapy for Alzheimer's patients and simple way to help prevent dementia.
If you're looking for a gift idea for your favorite introvert, they might love one of these robots. It gives them a great activity to engage in when they need a little alone time to decompress, but can also help them out in social situations. If they become more confident in their skills, a quick game of table tennis can be a great ice-breaker at a party, or they might be compelled to join a recreational league at the local community center.
Choosing The Right Ping Pong Robot
Even the most basic ping pong robot is a serious step up from simply raising half the table to allow you to hit balls to yourself. While it might take a considerable amount of practice to be able to volley the ball this way, it isn't ideal because this exercise does not simulate the correct angles you need to hit at, nor can it give you any kind of realistic speed, bounce, or spin upon the return. Fortunately, the majority of robots available will provide you with variable options on speed and spin, regardless of price, but there are a few other aspects to consider when choosing a machine.
If you plan to switch between practice and playing with a human opponent fairly often, you'll want to evaluate how complicated it is to set up.
No matter what style or price-point you end up with, check if the unit comes with a collection net, and if not be sure to buy one. This simple accessory will save you hours and prevent needless back pain if you plan to spend a lot of time with your robotic trainer. Higher-end models will have an integrated net that folds out and not only collects the balls, but recycles them into the machine so that you can practice longer. Ball capacity is also an important consideration if you want a longer play time before you have to stop and reload the machine.
If you plan to switch between practice and playing with a human opponent fairly often, you'll want to evaluate how complicated it is to set up. The most basic units sit atop the table and can be removed easily, but you won't get as many training features.
Before you spring for a ping pong robot with all the bells and whistles, consider who will be using the robot most often. You can find robots that give you the ability to program complicated routines that control everything from the ball trajectory to the degree of spin, but if the main user is a technophobe, choose a machine that has simpler options, or look for the latest models that feature more user-friendly touch screens that can guide players through the programming process.
A Brief History Of Ping Pong
While some try to debate whether there is a difference between table tennis and ping pong, the truth is that they are the same thing. The perception that table tennis is the more serious sport stems from the fact that ping pong is a trademarked term owned by Parker Brothers in the United States, and therefore nationally organized bodies are required use the term table tennis when naming their competitive leagues and tournaments.
The origins of this activity, regardless of what it's called, are rooted in the game of tennis. Sometime during the 1880s, British lawn tennis players brought their game indoors during the winter months, and it quickly caught on as a parlor game and spread throughout the world. The English firm J. Jacques and Son coined the term "ping pong" and began manufacturing and selling tables, paddles, and nets.
By 1926, the International Table Tennis Association was founded and established a uniform set of rules and regulations for the game, and still oversees numerous international competitions today.