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Pickleball is a tough game that takes in a range of abilities and game strategies depending on the skills you possess.
When you first begin playing pickleball, most of you will try to hit the ball as hard as possible to bring points to an end as fast as possible.
The problem you will find if you do not develop your game to include dinks and drop shots is that you will become known as a banger capable of only smashing the ball as hard as possible.
Once you have developed your game and begun to climb through the rating system, you will want to learn how to beat bangers in pickleball.
What is a banger in pickleball?
If you have set out on your pickleball journey, you will already know what is meant by a banger.
These players are those who are always looking to hit the ball as hard as possible at all times to try and bully you out of each game you are playing in.
Pickleball bangers have their place in the game, even though those who have improved their games to include a soft approach will often claim bangers have no place in the higher levels of the game.
For many of us, the answer to whether a banger has a place in the game is that each of you has a place in the sport no matter what tactics you employ.
There are no rules that state pickleball bangers cannot smash the ball as hard as they like to bring rallies to an end as quickly as possible.
For most pickleball fans, the chance to see a banger take on a dinker is one of the most impressive sights of a sport that welcomes most people into its arms.
What is the challenge of playing a banger?
The main challenge of playing a banger is that a player who mixes up their game or looks to play pickleball with soft dinks over the net is that a banger will make it difficult to play your natural game.
As a banger knocks the ball back towards you with great speed, the biggest challenge you will face is how will you return the ball in anything but a defensive way.
The pace and power of a banger can make it hard for you to play in an offensive way and may force you to alter your strategy.
Finding a way to go on the offense may mean you will be forced to make some changes to your own game that could make life difficult for you in a pickleball match.
Those who dink and play the soft game often want to play near the kitchen line but struggle to do so when the power of a banger is pushing you back from the net.
You will feel you are struggling to hold your position on the court and control the rallies as you would like to do against another type of player.
How to beat bangers in pickleball
Let the ball go out
When you are struggling to take on a banger in pickleball, you will feel you are constantly under pressure to play defensive shots.
If you are hoping to take on a new way of playing against a banger, you can often look at the option of letting balls go out when they are struck hard.
This may mean you have to complete a lot of body movements because bangers like to smash the ball at the body of their opponent to make sure you have little option when it comes to returning the ball effectively.
The power and speed at which the ball is hit by a pickleball banger can leave you struggling to think quickly and effectively.
Striking the ball with such power leaves you with little option but to throw your paddle in the way and try to return it into the opposing court and make your opponent make another shot.
If you see the ball is being hit with extreme pace, you will often be able to duck out of the way and let the pickleball sail out of the court to take the point.
Look for topspin
When you are hoping to use the strategy of letting the ball go out, you should be aware of the dangers of topspin.
The use of topspin is being developed by many pickleball players who like to play with power because it can help the ball dip into the court.
If you look at the ball and do not believe topspin has been used on a shot, you will often find yourself looking to leave the ball alone and watch it sail out of the court.
The question you may have is how do you identify topspin when trying to work out how to beat bangers in pickleball.
Topspin is applied and sees the ball not only moving quickly but also spinning quickly as the spin is applied to try and let the ball dip into the court.
If you have the time, you can look at the pickleball and identify if you can see the holes of the ball or whether you see a blurry spinning ball that will dive down to make it difficult for you to leave the ball confidently.
Where to return a drive
There are some moments in a rally that a banger will try and take advantage of, including the moment when you will see them strike the ball as hard and fast as they possibly can.
The most common moments for a banger to strike the ball hard are on the third or fifth shots of a rally they began with a serve.
The third or fifth shot drive will usually take you by surprise and leave you knowing your fourth or sixth shot back into mid-court.
The third or fifth shot drive will usually be hit from the baseline by the banger who will force the shot close to your body and try to make you play an uncontrolled shot in return.
The areas to concentrate on when you are playing your shot is to either take all the pace off the ball or to push it back towards the baseline.
If you do not push the ball far back or play a soft dink into the kitchen, you will leave the ball in mid-court, which is the natural home of the pickleball banger.
If the shot you play pops up and falls into the mid-court area you will see the banger charge towards you and smash the ball hard again towards you to keep the pressure on.
Play the soft game
The soft game is one of the most important in the sport of pickleball, with the development of the soft game-changing your chances against a banger.
This means developing, what is known as soft hands that do not have the tightest grip on your pickleball paddle and allow the power generated by a banger to be absorbed by your paddle.
The main benefit of using the soft game is that you will be able to dink the ball just over the net into the kitchen and place your banger opponent off balance as they chase down your dink.
By playing the soft game, you will often find yourself playing the ball to a lower height than you would if you try to match a banger for power.
If you play the ball and it remains below the knees of your banger opponent, you will often find any power shot played by your opponent being hit high and out of the court because of your excellent shot placement.
Bangers have always been a part of the sport of pickleball and will continue to do so for years to come.
No matter how much controversy is heard about the use of power in pickleball, developing a strategy for beating these players is the best option for you when you want to remain competitive against all power players.