B. Programmable vs non-programmable
Programmable robots allow you to program a robot to
produce a particular sequence of balls. This can be a sequence of positions
on the table, a sequence of different spin or speed, or a combination of the
three. Most robots have an oscillating head, allowing you receive balls on
the different positions on the table, but all the balls will be at the same
depth and with the same spin. With a programmable robot you can change this,
allowing you to program in a sequence that may simulate a real ‘live’ ralley.
1. Do you need it?
more simple robot with an oscillating head can simulate (to some extent) a
ralley against a looper or a chopper, allowing you to practice your footwork
and techniques against continuous backspin or topspin balls on different
positions of the table (but at the same depth). If you wish to use the robot
simply to practice and refine your individual strokes, or use to use it for
stamina/strength training, then this is all you need.
If you find you need more than this, and wish to simulate
a more complicated sequence, then a programmable robot is required. You may
wish to similar a short backspin serve to your forehand, followed by a deep
topspin to your backhand for example. Depending on the robot your choose,
you can make it much more complicated than that.
You should remember though that it can only simulate a
real ralley, and a real ralley will always be a little different in
placement, speed and spin. So while it can be good to practice your
technique and footwork for a common routine or scenario, it WILL be a little
different in a real ralley, and getting identical sequences from a robot may
make it harder to adjust to a real ralley. Still there can be great value in
practicing a likely scenario, as you train yourself to be ready for a more
likely return from your opponent, allowing you to get ready earlier, and
play the correct stroke with more preparation and control.
2. Added complexity
The ability to program is no doubt very nice, but keep in mind that these
robots do tend to be more complex, meaning they are usually hard to setup
and use, and there are also more things that can go wrong with them.
For some being able to practice ‘near’ real live senarios
is very important, whereas others are quite happy to refine their strokes
with a non-programmable robot, and use real live practice for practicing
routines, as they more closely simulate a real match. You’ll need to
carefully consider these option, to see if the ability of programming in a
sequence, is worth the extra money and complexity of your new robot.
Continue on to
Robots - Generating spin