Bangers…we all know them. We love them, but we know they’re an unenlightened bunch that still believe pickleball is a blunt-force game that can be won by power shots from the baselines and by hitting winners.
If you’ve found your way to DinkTank here, I’m sure you know better.
However, when I’m at some of the local courts where there’s a ton of open play, one remark I often overhear is, “ugh…I’ve got to play against some bangers.”
While playing against bangers means we’re apt to have a game of unsophisticated pickleball play, I don’t share their resentment in playing against them.
Why? I’m glad you asked. Here are 3 reasons I LOVE playing against bangers:
- Predictable shots
I’ve written at length about the importance of being unpredictable in our pickleball play, especially when it comes to dropping vs driving.
I presently tend to default to ALWAYS dropping my 3rd/5th shots and have to remind myself to drive a little more. Variety, I’m told, is the spice of life- and the key to success on a pickleball court.
But bangers? You know what they’re going to do, and with each successive drive, you read their pace and direction more and more to where you know where and how fast to expect each shot.
So, even if they get me the first time, I know their drives won’t be a weapon for them by the end of the match.
- They’re easy to force into bad shots
Another important shot we harp on here at DinkTank is the importance of the return. We can do nothing worse than miss a return since it gives our opponents a free point.
However, while we don’t think (or practice) our returns a lot, they really set up so much of the rest of the point…so we ought to be thinking (and practicing) our returns more.
One shot I’ve really worked to master is a deep slice backhand return; I swung a baseball bat left-handed in a past life, so this is a natural-feeling shot for me. When I hit this, the ball stays low, it’s easy to control, and when it hits, the ball bounces lower than it would with top spin (or no spin). In turn, it tends to stay around or below knee height…or, as I like to term in- in red light territory.
And when bangers want to bang from red light territory, the odds are they’ll hit one in the net or hit it high enough that we can let it float by and land on the wrong side (for them) of the baseline.
So, when I see bangers, I double down on the focus of my serve returns knowing it’ll pay dividends with lots of wild, errant shots coming back my way.
- They’re easy to take out of their comfort zone
Bangers generally want to bang because they don’t have much of a net game.
As you get used to defending their baseline drives, you get better and better at blocking them with softer touch that draws them into the net.
And once they’re close to the net? They’re putty in your hands. They don’t have the ability to dink, reset, speed up, and Erne like you do, and they’re clearly out of their element.
When they started banging, they tipped they’re hand: they bang because drives are what they’re good at and they don’t want to get pulled into a net game.
Luckily for us, the geniuses that thought up pickleball devised a game that favors people that like the chess match that is net play.
Game, set, match.
Bangers…bring ’em on!
Until next time…