Want to Beat Bangers? Here's What You SHOULD Be Practicing

By Mark Renneson

Are you tired of losing to Bangers? Those players who seem to have one speed and one speed only -- FAST? There are a number of things that you might want to do to take down this most annoying of opponent: hit your returns deep in the court so when they play their third shot drive, they are doing it from behind the baseline; Use excessive spin so that they are less likely to be well set up when they hit; When that ball does come to you at the net, drop it gently in the kitchen, or really, anywhere that is low to the ground. 

But of all of the useful ways to tame the power player, there is one that is especially effective -- and especially under-practiced -- learning when to NOT hit the ball. 

One of the challenges of pickleball is that they court is as small as it is. At just 44 ft in length, there isn't a lot of real estate to work with. And you can (and should) use this to your advantage against bangers. If someone chooses to hit a ball hard, it better be low to the net or it will sail long. And the harder they hit, the smaller their margin for error. 

 Have a friend hit balls with different speeds, heights and spins. Try to predict (before the ball crosses the net) if it will land in or out.

Have a friend hit balls with different speeds, heights and spins. Try to predict (before the ball crosses the net) if it will land in or out.

So what can you do? You can put down the paddle and practice developing an eye for out balls. You can learn to identify which balls are travelling too fast and high to stay in play. You can develop your reception skills (e.g. the ability to receive balls well) by quickly and correctly identifying what balls will land in and what balls have too much juice. 

And the next time those bangers try to take your head off, just duck and watch the ball sail a mile long!

Mark Renneson is the Executive Director of Pickleball Coaching International. For more information on exceptional coaching ideas and resources, visit pickleballcoachinginternational.com

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