By: CJ Johnson | February 19, 2018 |

Playing Tip: How to Handle Bangers

playing against bangersMost of us have seen our share of “bangers” on the pickleball court. Bangers are those hard-hitting players who love the driving forehand shot and the big slams.

Whether they picked this up from tennis or not, they rely on a long backswing and take advantage of every ball we send their way that is above waist high.

Why do they do it?  A couple of reasons, first when done correctly it can be an effective strategy. Secondly, most people have a hard time softening a shot and start into the hard-hitting game with them, playing right to their strengths.

What can you do when you play against the bangers? First, be sure you always have your paddle up and ready. You have no chance at all if your paddle is dropped in front of you or at your side. The faster they hit the ball toward you the more you need to be ready!

Be aware of your court position. Get to the kitchen line quickly for optimal position, or stay at the base. But don’t get caught mid-court where you have little chance to deflect the ball or to return a controlled shot.

When you know you are about to get slammed, get your paddle out in front in a protective defense position and hope for the best.

All of the above suggestions are defensive. The best strategy is to go on the offensive and prevent the bangers from playing their favorite game. That means hit soft serves and soft balls to bangers so they can’t benefit from the speed you put on the ball. And by the third shot, you should be at the kitchen line forcing a dinking game with them.

Bev writes a weekly email blast for our pickleball club. She delivers the rules with clarity and a sense of humor. If you have a rules question post it in the comments below.


CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)