Capital Area Pickleball Association
Serving Dane County Wisconsin

How to Win Against Bangers in Pickleball

17 Apr 2024 11:57 AM | Abigail Darwin

In pickleball, a “banger” is someone who consistently hits balls really, really hard, and who generally likes to overpower his/her opponents on every point. Chances are that if you play enough pickleball, you will eventually encounter these type of player opponents on the court. They can seem intimidating, unless you know effective strategies for modifying game play to allow you and your partner to stay in control of each rally. Some of these strategies include:

1.       Return their serves deep to keep them back at the baseline as long as possible. Then, when they inevitably drive their return back at you or your partner, volley it back gently, just barely clearing the net and landing in the kitchen on the other side. This may win a point for your team, or it may result in them popping up the ball and allowing you or your partner to smash it back at them, or it may result in a dinking session (which they are unlikely to win, due to their likely inexperience with mid-game dinking).

2.       Hit third shot drops to them, attempting to draw them into dinking sessions (which again, they are likely unaccustomed to and are therefore, less likely to win).

3.       When returning volleys back to them, try to hold your paddle with a looser grip (perhaps 3 on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is loosest), so that if the ball is coming at you really hard, your volley return back will be soft and will result in the ball just barely clearing the net and landing in the kitchen on the other side.

4.       An alternative suggestion for returning volleys is to return firm volleys at one of the banger’s feet. This will force him onto his heels and into a defensive position. He won’t be able to step into the ball and swing with all his strength. He may either miss the ball entirely or pop the ball back up to you, allowing you to smash a return back at him.

To execute the firm volley, make sure you have a firm grip pressure on your paddle (perhaps 7 or 8 on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is firmest) and be sure to extend your arm during the volley.

5.       When serving to them, try to keep your serves to their backhands. Most people have less ability to drive their backhands than their forehands, so the ball is less likely to come back quite as hard.

6.       Be sure to adhere to the adage of “chest high, let it fly!” This means that if a ball is coming at you at your chest level or higher, it is likely to end up going out of bounds. Many times, bangers hit balls so hard, that they will end up going out of bounds if we would only let them go instead of trying to volley them back. Remember to let balls go if they are going to land “out.”

Ultimately, defeating bangers usually means letting them make the mistakes or drawing them into a soft game.

And if YOU are a banger, remember that pickleball is a game that requires the ability to hit both hard and soft shots; shots with drive, as well as those with finesse.

Pickleball is a game with many layers and many strategies, which is what makes it so fun!

Keep pickling!

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