7 tips to beat a pickleball banger — How to defend the drive

If you constantly play against pickleball bangers — players who are constantly driving the ball back to you, making it harder to hit — here are some tips to counter that drive.

Barrett Bass & Denae Bass

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04/11/2024

April 11, 2024

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If you constantly play against pickleball bangers — players who are constantly driving the ball back to you, making it harder to hit — here are some tips to counter that drive. We will teach you how to recognize an upcoming pickleball drive; how to counter with short, compact swings; and how to let your opponent make the mistakes during every rally.

Predict the pickleball banger before they have a chance to surprise you, and counter their drive with a shot that takes away their control.

Tip #1: Stay Calm

One of the best tips to beat a banger may sound really simple: it's to stay calm. Pickleball bangers are bullies, and you know they're going to try to bully their way to the kitchen line from the baseline.

If you choose to stay calm and not overreact, or move your feet, or lunge, you can stay under control and slow your heart rate down. The more calm you are in reacting to their ball, the more success you will have in beating bangers.

Tip #2: Move Your Feet

The second tip is simply to keep your feet moving. It will increase your chances of hitting the ball better with contact and more accuracy. A lot of times people get caught flat-footed, and if they are reaching for a ball it will cause them to be off balance.

So instead of having to reach, it's really important when you see your opponent contact the ball, you are already getting in position.

Tip #3: Short & Compact Counter Swings

A lot of people, when they're receiving this ball, try to counter either too big or they just block the ball. You’ll want to find a middle ground so you don't react to their shot by blocking it. You also don't swing too big. You’ll want a short, compact swing, using your tricep and keeping your upper extremities nice and quiet, and counter-punching that ball as deep as possible. That's going to help you win more points against bangers.

Tip #4: Keep Your Opponent Deep

Have you ever played against someone who repeatedly bangs the ball until they get to the kitchen line? In this siatuon, you should be countering the ball so it lands at their feet.

This will help to keep them back and deep in the court. A banger really wants to move forward into the court because that's going to give them a power advantage over you. When you're keeping them back and hitting the ball down at their feet, it's a very hard ball for them to be able to hit another drive or another powerful shot.

Tip #5: 3 Tips to Let "Out" Balls Go Out

If you can learn to let drive shots go out, you will win more points against bangers in pickleball.  One of the hardest things in pickleball is knowing when a ball is going to go out. But there are three quick things that are going to help you know when to avoid hitting an “out” ball:

Watch where your opponent is on the court

If your opponent is making contact with the ball with a big back swing in the middle of the court, you should be watching for an “out” ball. If they are further back on the court, they have much more real estate to work with. Their proximity to the net will affect how hard they swing.

Watch where your opponent contacts the ball

If your opponent is a banger and they contact the ball very low to the ground, they're having to hit up on the ball. Bangers like to hit hard, so if they're hitting the ball hard from a low position, that ball is on an upward trajectory and it's probably going out. 


You will want to see where they are standing on the court, but also where they make contact with the ball. If they make contact with the ball higher off the ground, they're going to have a much more ability to hit down on the ball and create top spin and keep that ball in.

Watch your opponent’s forward momentum


If your opponent is sprinting toward the net they are going to have a lot of momentum. That should be a green light for you to want to let the ball go, because there is a greater chance it will land out of the court.

Tip #6: Target Your Opponent's Backhand


If you want to decrease your opponent's ability to overpower you, try to target their backhand. A lot of pickleball bangers will favor their forehand: that's typically the shot they're going to want to speed up. Many times people don't have the same comfortability, consistency, or accuracy with their backhand.


So if you find that your opponent is trying to overpower you with their forehand, try to intentionally hit their backand, whether it's the return or the counter. There is a good chance their backhand shot is not going to be as powerful as their forehand.

Tip #7: The "Seesaw Effect"

The Seesaw Effect is when your opponent is contacting the ball from a really low position, which will tell you that you want to be at a high position because they're hitting up on the ball.

If your opponent attacks the ball from a low position, you’ll want to get your paddle up and ready to hit down on the ball. The opposite is true as well: if your opponent is ready to attack, you should drop your paddle because they're hitting down on the ball and now you're going to defend low.