Are you getting tired of playing the bangers? They have one strategy; hit the ball as hard as they can. They rarely hit third shot drop shots. What can you do?
There are two options. The first is the punch volley, a volley hit hard and deep. The second is the soft volley, a volley hit soft and short.
The Punch Volley: Imagine your paddle grip on a scale of 1-10 with 10 as the strongest or hardest and 1 as the weakest or softest. When hitting a punch volley, the grip should be in the 7-10 range. Our objective is to keep the opponent deep by making the volley land deep in the court. The opponents’ toes should be your target. Punch the ball with a strong grip. Punching means to take very little to no back stroke, punch hard through the ball upon impact, and bring the paddle up as you stroke through the ball. Keeping the opponents at the baseline where they can’t hurt you is effective. They can hit it as hard as they like, but they can’t hit it through you when you’re ready, balanced, facing the action, and punching the ball back to their toes.
The Soft Volley: Equally effective as the punch volley and more effective with most of the bangers, the soft volley drops the ball into the kitchen softly making the banger have to run forward to hit the ball. This takes them out of their comfort zone where they can stand back and blast. Use a grip pressure in the 1-4 range. Open the paddle face up, strike the ball softly, and follow through dropping the ball into the kitchen. Our objective is to make the ball bounce two to three times in the kitchen. This keeps the ball below the net where the banger can’t hit it hard. If the banger does make it to the ball before it bounces a second time, they will usually hit it hard again. Your objective now is to get out of the way. When you see them coming, head for the sidelines. This ball is going out or in the net most of the time.
Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at firstname.lastname@example.org.