Pickleball is a sport that mixes elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. It can be played by singles or doubles, indoors or outdoors. The goal of the game is to hit the ball over the net and prevent your opponent from hitting it back. Players use hard paddles a little bigger than table tennis bats, and a light plastic ball called a wiffle ball to play
Pickleball is changing. It is getting faster and there are more hard shots than ever on the pickleball court. This is especially true as more and more players with tennis, or other racquet sport, backgrounds are joining pickleball. These players, who are called “bangers,” have an edge when it comes to hitting hard and fast shots on the pickleball court.
|7 Ways to Beat a Banger in Pickleball|
A banger in pickleball is a player that likes to hit the ball hard all the time. A banger likes to play with speed and power and, usually, does not like to play the soft game—in other words, a banger usually does not like to dink or drop the ball.
Because of the “rise of the banger” on the pickleball court, it is important to know how to stop and beat the banger, especially if you are a player that likes the soft game. This pickleball blog will show you 7 ways to beat a banger in pickleball.
1. Be Ready Always
Bangers like to hit the ball hard and fast. So, always be ready for the hard shot from the banger. If the banger decides to change it up and dink or drop the ball, you will have enough time to react. So, be prepared and expect a fast shot. This is especially true for the third and fifth shots of each rally when the banger is on the serving team, which are usually the most difficult shots when playing against a banger on the pickleball court.
Being ready means that you are in a sporty stance at the Non-Volley Zone Line (also known as the Kitchen Line) with your paddle up and in front of your body. Bend your knees, watch the ball, and expect a fastball.
2. Stay Away from the Banger
Not every player is a banger. Sometimes, a banger will have a “dinker”—a player that does not hit the ball hard often, but rather likes the soft game—as a partner on the pickleball court. In this case, to stop the banger, hit the ball to the dinker. This is especially true on the third and fifth shots of each rally when the banger is on the serving team. This will help avoid the hard shots for you and your partner, as the dinker will be more likely to hit a drop shot on the third and fifth shots.
Sometimes, however, a banger will have another banger as a partner. In that case, think about hitting to the banger that is less good with the hard shot, as well as learn the other ways in this blog.
3. Hit a Deep Serve Return With bangers
it is very important to keep them back near the baseline with a deep serve return. This will make the banger hit a better, stronger hard shot, and give you more time to react to the ball.
Also, think about hitting your serve return so that the ball stays low to the ground. This can usually be done by hitting your serve return with some backspin or slice. By hitting a serve return that stays low to the ground, the banger will have to hit up on the ball, which may make the banger’s hard shot go out of bounds.
Lastly, think about hitting your serve return to the banger’s weaker side. Often times, forehands and backhands are not equal, and backhand shots are usually weaker than forehand shots. Find out whether the banger’s forehand hard shot is stronger than his or her backhand hard shot. If so, aim your serve return to the banger’s backhand side to make for a harder hard shot for the banger.
4. Watch Out for Out Balls
When playing bangers, it is important to watch out for shots that are going out of bounds. Any shot by the banger that lands out of bounds gives you and your partner a winning rally. So, do not give the banger any free chances or keep the banger in the rally by hitting the banger’s out balls.
Telling out balls is one of the hardest skills on the pickleball court. Whether to let a pickleball go or not is a quick decision. With that said, with practice, it is a skill that you can get better at and, with improvement, will help you increase your win rate on the pickleball court.
To help you in telling out balls, use the following factors in your quick decision making:
Where is the banger on the pickleball court when hitting the shot?
A usual banger will hit the third shot hard, then the fifth and so on. After a few hard shots, the banger will usually hit the pickleball out of bounds because the banger is slowly moving up toward the pickleball net, which gives the banger less room to work with when hitting the pickleball. As a result, the closer to the pickleball net that the banger gets, the more likely that the banger’s shot will be going past the baseline and out of bounds.
How big is the banger’s swing?
Big swings usually mean more speed or power. If a banger is taking a big swing, be ready for more speed. If a banger is taking a big swing and is very close to the pickleball net, the pickleball may be going out of bounds.
How high is the pickleball when the banger hits it?
If the pickleball is low to the pickleball court and below the pickleball net, the banger will have to hit up on the pickleball to get his or her shot back over the pickleball net. When a banger hits up on the pickleball, the pickleball is more likely to fly high out of bounds. Be aware of where the banger is hitting the pickleball, as this could be a sign for an out ball.
Does the banger hit the pickleball with top spin?
If the banger can hit the pickleball with top spin (i.e., forward spin that goes from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock), then the banger is more likely to keep the pickleball in the court. The banger will also be able to hit a shot that is low on the court and below the pickleball net, and keep the pickleball in play. As a result, a banger with top spin is more dangerous and his or her shots are more likely to stay in. If a banger does not have top spin, then his or her shots are more likely to go out of bounds.
Is the banger hitting with or against the wind?
Wind can play a big role on the pickleball court. If a banger is hitting with the wind behind him or her, then the pickleball is more likely to go out of bounds, as the wind will push the pickleball further. However, if the banger is hitting into the wind, then the pickleball is more likely to stay in, as the wind will act as a stopping force to the banger’s shots. Pay attention to the wind and how it can affect a banger’s shots.
How high is the pickleball compared to your body?
Generally speaking, look for the pickleball that gets about chest/shoulder high or higher, as the pickleball will probably go out of bounds. Chest/shoulder high, let it fly! The exact height, however, will depend on your height and how low you are (i.e., how much you bend your knees) when the pickleball is coming toward you.
5. Be a Brick Wall
Be a brick wall and stop the hard shot. Good stops need little to no swing, a relaxed paddle grip (if you have a firm grip, you will probably hit the pickleball too hard, as a firm grip will make your paddle act as a harder wall for the pickleball to bounce off of), and calm hands. This will soften the pickleball and help you to avoid hitting the banger’s hard shots by mistake past the baseline and out of bounds.
Once you have the feel for generally stopping the pickleball, the goal is to stop the banger’s hard shots down at your opponents’ feet (and maybe even the backhand-side foot if the banger’s backhand side is his or her weaker side). To stop down, be aware of your paddle angle, as you will want to angle your pickleball paddle in the direction you want the pickleball to go (i.e., a slightly closed paddle face will send the pickleball down toward the court). This will help you avoid accidental high balls or high stops, which would give your opponents’ an easy “Shake and Bake,” which is a banger’s favorite move on the pickleball court.
6. Keep the Banger Away
Generally speaking, always keep the banger away near the baseline when possible. Do not let the banger into the Transition Area or the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen Line. If you let the banger in toward the pickleball net, you are giving the banger a chance to move his or her feet in toward the pickleball in an attacking way, and maybe hit a more powerful shot than if the banger was away near the baseline.
With that said, there may be chances where you could drop or stop the pickleball into the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen. This would be where the banger is not very fast, so a short shot is very hard for the banger to reach. A short drop or stop into the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen could also work well if the banger cannot dink (see the last way below).
7. Play the Soft Game
Most pickleball players have either a strong hard game or a strong soft game, and are not likely strong in both areas. As a result, if you are good at dinking, play dinking with the banger and try to make the banger uneasy (in other words, make the banger uneasy by doing something the banger does not like to do).