Table Tennis Return Board vs. Table Tennis Robot: Which is the best?


Mostly you play table tennis or any many other games with some partner.


What if you don’t get anyone to play with?

In that case, either you would have to leave your wish, or you would have to look for some alternative.

In case of table tennis, you can get few alternatives. Among different options available, two of them are:

  1. Table tennis return board 
  2. And table tennis robot

Both these options can serve you like your game partner.

But again, which one is the best option among both to play with?


I am going to discuss this point.

Table Tennis Return Board vs. Table Tennis Robot

What are these two alternatives?

Before discussing which option is better to play table tennis with, first of all, I should discuss their basic aspects. So that, you can get a clear idea of how they work.

Table tennis return board

As its name says all about it, it is a kind of moveable board, more or less like a chalkboard or whiteboard. You would need to put this board at the other end side of your table to make it serve you as your opponent. The angle of this board can be adjusted up or down according to your choice. By changing the angle of this board, you can change the return trajectory of a ball. So basically, it can add more excitement to your game by tilting its angle.

Multiple return boards can also be used at the farther side that would cover the more space of table making it able to give you more realistic game approach. In short, you can use return board to polish your game skills or to do good practice for hours.

Return board construction

These boards are made up of cardboard or combination of different rubber sheets. The rubber layer on this board plays very crucial role in improving its feedback. Usually, various boards are joined together at a tilted angle to offer wide coverage area.

Table Tennis Return Board

Making a table tennis return board is quite easy. Many people make these boards own their own according to their game preferences.

Types of return board

There are not any specific types of table tennis return boards, as you won’t get any renowned brand’s website selling these boards. However, few manufacturers or table tennis lovers construct these boards with a slight variation to provide various spin and bouncing.

The different types of return boards could be an advanced system in which rubber that is used offers excellent rebounding. On putting smaller effort, the feedback is quite high. It is particularly useful for those players who are okay with a backhand and forehand topspin and able to give speedy actions.

Next type can be constructed by using two boards both are angled to give unparallel system. They can be tilted at different angles, to get plenty of different gaming experiences. Another type could be a mini-board that can be placed on the table close to the net. This board type can help you in playing bottom spin.

Another return board type could be a combination of boards that can offer you both topspin and backspin. This type can be constructed by placing close-up board near to net on one side, and advanced board on the other end of your table. Different variation in the type of table tennis return boards can be made depending on the choice of player. 

Table Tennis Robot

Its name might portray its image as a very complex product. But it is not. It is simply like a machine that can throw the ball back from the opponent’s end of your table tennis table. All balls that it throws come in a controlled or regular way.

Simple Table Tennis Robot

Image Credit: www.coolhunting.com

Table tennis robot construction

These robots are basically made up of three basic elements. Combining all these parts, these robots can play as your real opponent or game partner.

The first and most important part is its mechanism that that loads and throws table tennis balls. It is the main working of this robot. The second element is its control box. With the help of this box, the firing or throwing of balls is programmed. From here you can adjust the setting of its feedback. The third element is optional. It is a net that catches the returned balls.

Few basic robots are quite simple. They do not possess such extensive features like net or other settings. One needs to provide its stock of balls to the robot. 

Types of table tennis robot

The basic working principles of all robots are same. The firing mechanism of all robots will be placed on the opponent’s side of the table, and the firing mechanism will be pointing towards you. The robot would need a supply of balls that it will fire. The capacity of carrying balls differs from robot to robot. 

This is the basics of all robots. Now, there is a huge number of robots’ varieties. Each will carry different secondary features that will increase/decrease their worth. However, basic working would stay same. 

Few types of table tennis robots come with the net that catches the ball back thrown from the player. The other types of robots contain such mechanism that will catch the ball back into the firing mechanism. In this way, it can prevent you from the difficulty of supplying the robot again and again.

Complex Table Tennis Robot

Other types of robots contain adjustable features that will serve you on your choice by making the angle of their firing mechanism towards downwards. Other types of robots can play with you by making angle upwards.

Few robots also come with the ability to adjust their position, speed, and frequency of throwing the ball for offering different feedback. You can get topspin, sidespin, backspin, etc. feedback from the robot on your choice.

Comparison between both table tennis partners

I have discussed both table tennis return board and table tennis robots in above sections. Both can help you in playing or practicing a game whenever you are alone or don’t get any playing partner. They both are good enough to assist you in polishing your skills and practicing a game. Or they can also be proved as a good and productive source spend your free time.

These are few points of similarities among both. To prove which one is the best option, I will discuss them regarding few common parameters.

•    Financial value

The most prominent distinguishing point between both is their financial values. Robots are quite expensive as compared to return boards. You can even construct return board on your own through using easily available materials. But, for constructing robots experts are required.

•    Complexity

The workings of robots are slightly more complex than returns board. In case, they don’t work up to the mark you can repair your board easily. But, for robots, you might need the help of some professionals in case of a critical problem. However, you can fix small problems on your own.

•    Room they need

Return boards ask for a huge room to play as your opponent. On the other hand, robots can play with you anywhere by consuming tiny place. Even, they may take less place as you human opponent would take.

•    Power backup required

Table tennis robots need a constant supply of power for working properly. Most robots use electricity supply. But, this is not the case with return boards. They can work without any power supply.

•    Ease-of-use

Return boards might be slightly difficult while adjusting them at are the requisite angle. Robots are easy in this regard. If required functionality is available for your robot, then you would only need to control its setting. But for boards, you would need to adjust the angle manually.

•    Feedback it offers

Return boards can give you variety of feedbacks through making very slight differences in angle. The feedback from these boards depends majorly on your performance. You will get what you have sent towards your opponent. But, in the case of robots, you will get feedback similar throughout on one type of settings.  

•    Durability

Both might offer acceptable durability. But, your table tennis robot can last much longer as compared to your return boards. If you are successful in purchasing a good robot, then it would serve you as your partner for years. No need to explain the durability of return boards. They will work as long and as good, as your board material is.

Final Words

In the above section, I have discussed few parameters regarding both these player’s replacements techniques. After reading them, you can quickly select the best option among both for yourself.

But, if our thoughts are considered, then it would be a return board that is the best option. The primary reason behind is the drawback of table tennis robots that they offer same stroke or routine over and over again. In this way, it can be better to enhance one specific skill.

But, in a long-term, they could be harmful to your game practice. Because you will get used to playing similar shots over a same period of time. It will leave you unpracticed about playing different shots alternatively.

Now considering the real game situation, your opponents can respond in any way by changing their tricks. If you are in the habit of playing with robots, your skills of playing with real-life opponents might be less polished as compared to the other situation if you practice with a return board.

    Peter S. Harper

    I am Peter, a 39-year-old friendly being from the United States. I love playing a lot of sports such as tennis, table tennis, volleyball, softball, and badminton... I have created this blog to help you find information on different types of sports equipment and finding the right one to enhance your skills at the game.

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