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September 16, 2022

What Can I Do Against Hard-Hitting Competition?

By Sonny Tannan

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I typically play and observe a variety of events (rec play and tournament play) and no matter what the skill level, there seems to be more and more hard-hitting players (also known as bangers). No matter where pickleball is played, this is becoming more prevalent at every level around the world.


Why is this something that seems to have so much controversy surrounding it? Well, according to #Fansof3, here are three rules of thought:

1. Why do they keep hitting the ball hard? It’s not using pickleball strategy to slow the game down—let’s win with dinks!

2. If they can’t handle the heat, let’s just keep hitting at them as hard as possible. Besides, it’s more fun to hit it fast!


Can you guess which lines of thought are from a certain style of player?


Perhaps this is the best takeaway:

3. Pickleball is a dynamic game that is always changing—why not learn how to do both?!


If hitting the ball hard wasn’t effective, players would not do it. Conversely, if slowing the game down and dinking with a purpose didn’t work, then why would some of the best players in the world focus on this skill? There is a lot to consider when playing against hard-hitting competition, and at the end of the day, getting frustrated or anxious about it will not improve the way you play or even give you the opportunity to enjoy your pickleball experience.


Here are just a few things to think about next time you are playing.

  • Let balls go out – If you see your opponent getting ready to swing away and blast a ball, consider where the ball is in relation to you. Is it above chest level or maybe even at your face?

  • Keep your shots low – Take note of the shots that you might pop up or even hit a bit too short that invite a hard-hitting opponent closer to the net.

  • Check your grip on the paddle – While it can be nerve-wracking to have a ball hit hard at you, do you tense up on your paddle and grip it tighter with more tension in your hand and arm?


Remember, it’s a great time to be a part of our sport as well as introduce others to join in the competition and fun. We are all learning how to improve our skills and understanding of the game, and there is certainly room for a variety of styles of play. If you want to learn more about how to bring out the best in your own play, feel free to connect with me and let’s get to work on enhancing your game.


See you on the courts!  •

Sonny Tannan is a Team JOOLA sponsored player, PPR Clinician & Certified Teaching Professional, and USA Pickleball Ambassador.

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