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How to Beat Bangers in Pickleball

Top view shot of pickleball paddle and ball in court.

While pickleball can be seen as a light-hearted, laidback sport, some players get into kicking it up a notch and hitting the ball as hard as they can while keeping an accelerated pace. We call these speed demons “bangers” in the world of pickleball. When you’re staring down a banger on the other side of the net, you might respond in several different ways.

You may want to duck and cover your vulnerable parts so you don’t get nailed with a stray pickleball. You might also want to step up to the plate metaphorically and dish their fast, furious energy right back. Either of these responses is perfectly reasonable when you’re just trying to have a good time and maybe score some glory for yourself on the court.

If you want to know how to beat a banger and feel like a boss, read the tips below.

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1. Fight fire with fire and fire a drive right back at them.

Sometimes giving bangers a taste of their own whiplash-inducing medicine is enough to stop them in their tracks. Some bangers might slow down when they realize how much it sucks the fun out of the game to throw out your back trying to whip a ball back at someone. Of course, this strategy could easily backfire. If a banger escalates fast-paced energy, you might want to use one of the diffusing strategies to bring the pace back down to a reasonable level.

Or you might find that you enjoy the fast pace and become a banger yourself.

2. Slow down the pace.

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While the banger might want you to keep up with them, you can always show them that slow and steady wins the race–or at least makes pickleball more fun for everyone involved. Although bangers usually intend to drive the pace up, it takes two to tango and it takes two to create a fast, hard pickleball dynamic. As the pros on the subject at share, a “…potential strategy is to block that hard-hit ball softly back into their kitchen – likely forcing them to execute a not-what-they-wanted dink shot with their next shot.

If they opt, instead, to bang the ball that you softly blocked into their kitchen, get ready to get out of the way because their ball will likely go into the net or sail beyond the baseline. In terms of technique – after split-stepping – and with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and your weight on the balls of your feet, simply make contact (and not much else) in front of your body. Unlike the intentional arm extension when executing the firm volley directed at your opponent’s feet, the block volley requires you to be very “quiet” with minimal paddle movement.

If there’s any paddle movement at all it’s an ever-so-slightly high-to-low (of about an inch or so) motion in front of your body.”

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3. Act like a wall

If you absorb most of the speed of the ball and simply let it use its own force to bounce off your paddle, you’ll stop a banger in their tracks. This can be one of the most effective ways to put a banger down a notch or two. By gripping your paddle loosely and keeping your hands soft, you’ll be able to give a wall backswing with minimal effort.

If you find that this technique still doesn’t stop the banger or slow the ball down, see if you’re gripping your paddle too tightly as you go in for the block. A block is a move that is simple to perform but can be tough to master if you give in to the temptation to hit the ball. Let the ball bounce off of your paddle like it’s a wall and watch the banger struggle to get it back up to the desired pace.

4. Create distance between the net and the banger

Fastballs will have less power if they come from further away. As a result, you’ll want to keep the banger back as much as possible to avoid feeling the brunt of their drives. As explains in greater detail, “Generally speaking, always keep the banger back near the baseline when possible.

Do not invite the banger into the Transition Area or the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen Line. If you invite the banger in toward the pickleball net, you are giving the banger an opportunity to move his or her feet in toward the pickleball in an offensive manner, and possibly hit a more aggressive shot than if the banger was back near the baseline.”

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5. Always keep an eye on the ball

It’s one of the first rules of any sport, but with a banger, it’s an especially important one to follow. If you know where the ball is, you can react quickly and choose how you will respond. If the ball comes out of nowhere, it’s hard to hit at any pace.

With speedy balls, you’ll have less time to think of a strategy to use in general. If you get ambushed by the bangers hits, you’ll lose in no time.

6. Let the balls go out for easy points

Adult man and woman playing pickleball in court.

While bangers might excel in speed and force, they can lack accuracy as a result. Since they’re hitting balls hard and fast, they can’t fully predict where the ball might land. Although spotting potential out balls can be hard to master, it’s best not to touch a ball if it seems like it’s on its way out.

With practice and a trained eye, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a ball on its way out and a ball falling out of your favor for points.