You’ve read my article on strategies to play against slammers, but did you know there’s other strategies that you can use against bangers?
And that these strategies are on the first two shots?
And you may not even have to use the third shot drop?
Intrigued? I thought so! Read on to learn how to play against your friendly neighborhood bangers!
A Quick (and Not Very Good) Physics Lesson
I vaguely remember physics way back in high school (not my favorite subject!). But I do remember something along the lines of equal and opposite reactions!
In pickleball, if you hit the ball hard, it’s probably coming back hard – if not harder!
When playing against a banger, that may be the last thing that you want! Bangers love to hit the ball hard – they love being able to hit it even harder!
Let’s Say You’re Returning a Serve…
You’re playing against a couple of bangers – they serve hard, and you just know that third shot is going to be a drive and not a drop.
This is why I recommend a high, loopy return of serve, as near the baseline (preferably about two to three feet) as you feel comfortable with.
Bangers don’t like this!
They’re forced to hit the ball pretty much flat footed instead of moving towards the ball and the Kitchen – if they’re going to power the ball, they have to use their own power, none of yours!
And if they are hitting it flat-footed, all the power comes only from the arm, not from the entire body.
This return of serve has an added benefit! It gives you more time to join your partner at the Kitchen!
And you know I’m a huge fan of making the shot that gives you more time. That high, loopy return of serve gives you time to run, walk, or maybe even stroll to the Kitchen and get set and relaxed for the banger’s third shot!
Serving It Up!
You’re serving against a banger – can you guess what type of serve I recommend?
If you guessed “a high loopy serve like you recommend for the return,” you’re absolutely correct!
The same principle applies – you’re not giving the bangers any of your power – they’re forced to generate their own. That’s good news, right?
And there’s even better news!
If the banger hits a really hard return of serve, he’s not buying himself time. He’s losing time! Losing time to get to the Kitchen!
When you see this happen, get ready to do a third shot drop – NOT!
If your opponent is powering the ball from near the baseline, that ball is getting to you much quicker than your opponent is getting to the Kitchen. That means your opponent is back.
And what do I say at my bootcamps?
KEEP THEM BACK! DO NOT BRING THEM IN!
Whoever gets to the Kitchen first usually wins the point. It is in your best interest (and your partner’s!) to keep your opponents back. When you notice your opponent struggling to get to the Kitchen, try hitting a ball that bounces somewhere near their feet.
Doesn’t have to a hard shot or even a drive – and it’s a much easier shot from your baseline than trying to drop the ball into the Kitchen!
And because this shot doesn’t need much power behind it, you’re giving you (and your partner!) time to get to the Kitchen!
How Good a Poker Player Are You?
I’ve got a great poker face – that’s because I don’t know how to play poker! (I know a full house is good, and I think it beats a flush!)
In other words, I would have no tells if my hand was good or bad. I would be sitting there with the same expression on my face if I had a royal flush or a pair of threes!
The next time you’re playing a banger, and you make a good dink or he’s about to strike the ball fairly low (mid-calf or lower), look for the tell.
And the tell is the paddle behind the player. When you see this happen, that’s a really good indication the banger is getting ready to really power that poor little pickleball.
You know how you have to pull back on a slingshot’s rubber band to make that stone go farther? Same thing! The banger is pulling his arm back behind his body to generate more power to hit the ball harder.
Now comes the easy part!
Get out of the way!
Slide to the left, slide to the right, or duck! The ball may go into the net anyway, but if you notice that tell, be prepared to get out of the way so you can watch the ball sail out of bounds!
After all, you’re not auditioning for the role of a baseball backstop!
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Steve Mitchell says
So Prem, what do you have against bangers. What makes you think my banging shot is likely to hit the net or go out of bounds. Its all about pace and placement. Good point on the loopy serve and serve return as it seems easier for most to get them deeper and more time to get to the net which is a great thing, but as a racquetball player I can generate way more power than I ever need playing pickleball without your power to help me and I don’t need a big tennis swing to do it. Loopy serves and returns give plenty of time for the returner to get their feet set and analyze your opponents position. I for one prefer to hit a power shot to try and get an error rather than a drop shot that get smashed back at me if it is missed. I will say that as my drop shot gets better I am finding more places to use it effectively
Great articles, I hope to get the chance to take one of your clinics.