Soft Game vs. Bangers - Tipbit #1
Definition of a Banger: A banger in pickleball is a player that likes to consistently
drive the pickleball. A banger likes to play with pace and power and, typically, does
not like to engage in the soft game.
When I first started playing pickleball back in 2013, like many, I was your classic "banger". I had no idea what I was doing. I'd just wind up and rip the ball straight up the middle of the court. Thanks to my tennis background, I could rip the ball pretty well, so that worked for quite a while and I was a dominant player within our membership until I ran into some 3.5 and higher members who had develop the skills needed to play the “soft game”.
Association members like George and Teri begin to toy with me. It was a humbling experience. I’ve learned a lot now about the effectiveness of dinks, drops and resets. It was certainly eye opening and I became aware of a whole new set of pickleball skills. I also began to realize that the soft game focuses on finesse and clever shot placement rather than power and strength. It became clear to me that these soft skills are at the core of winning pickleball.
You see, it is far easier for me to hit a ball back at the same pace or faster than that at which it came. And that is why many players, like myself, just continue to bang. It’s much more difficult to absorb pace from the ball, slow it down, and still manage to place it where you want. I’m always impressed how PPA players like Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns, the top two pickleball players in the world, can drop that hard hit ball softly into their opponents’ kitchen from almost anywhere on or even off the court.
But, I’m slowly trying to work the soft game into my small matrix of shots in order to take away some of the banging opportunities from other RFPBA members.
So when the opportunity presents itself at Greenwood, try the soft game occasionally and slowly work your way up the pickleball skill ladder. Admittedly the third shot drop off a bounce from deep in the court, is a tough skill to master. If you don’t like or can’t seem to execute this famous “third shot drop’, then drive your third shot down the middle and then try hitting the fifth shot drop. Sometimes by driving your third shot low down the middle to your opponents, taking away their angles, you’ll get a chance at short fifth shot drop which is much easier to master.
Several of my pickleball friends play golf as well as pickleball and there’s an old saying in golf that goes,
“Drive for show, but putt for dough." Applied to pickleball it's, “Bang for show, but dink for dough.”