Just to be clear, when I say "banger", I am referring to those players who are constantly driving the ball hard from all over the court, with no regard to situation nor risk. I am not referring to those players who will carefully and appropriately hit hard shots.
So, you aren’t a banger, then, right? Good, so indulge me and read on anyways.
Why would you change anything, you ask, when you are winning all your games with an amazing display of power?
If this is actually the case, then listen carefully – the simple truth is that you are playing people who are much weaker than you. And let me tell you a little secret - they all hate playing against you because all you do is bang the ball.
So you need to move up to play with better players, but you can't because they don't like playing with you either, because - you guessed it - all you do is bang the ball. You never execute a drop shot and they easily defeat you. Sound familiar? I thought so.
The better players will find it remarkably easy to defend against your power, and they will routinely keep you at the back of the court or reset your shots into your NVZ. They will do this until you hit one into the net or pop one up for them. Every time. And this is very frustrating for you, isn’t it?
If you believe that I am wrong about this, then a simple test is in order. Find a player that is better than you and get him to come out and drill with you (you might have to pay him if he finds out what you want). Let him stand at the NVZ line on his side, covering half the court as he would in a doubles game, and have him feed you balls to the back of your side of the court. Take 25-50 of your best hard drives and count the winners. He will likely hit a couple into the net (unforced errors), and you might hit one down the line past him. For all the rest, he will have no trouble dropping them into your NVZ or blasting them back to you. I would be surprised if you have five winners out of fifty shots, even including his errors. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
If you are still not convinced of how hopeless your efforts are, do it again from mid-court. Your results might be slightly better, but still nowhere near anything remotely resembling success.
So what’s the answer to this wall you’ve hit? And what can you do to get past it?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, here it is - you need to master the drop shot from anywhere on the court. I don’t mean hit three out of ten over the net occasionally, I mean hit nine out of ten consistently into your opponents' NVZ from anywhere. In other words, you are not going to practice it until you can do it – you need to practice it until you can’t miss it. Yeah, I’m talking blisters and bleeding hands kind of practice.
And again, just to be clear – I am not advocating that the drop shot is the right shot every time, but I am saying that the drop shot will NEVER be the wrong shot. It will save your butt time after time, your partner won’t hate you anymore, and you might actually start making friends again. It’s like magic.
So an effective drop shot is part of the foundation of essential skills that you MUST learn if you want to get better and win more games. And if you are so inclined, you can certainly progress significantly with ONLY a drop shot, but you cannot get better with only a hard drive shot.
And that’s the truth. Now go do it.
Owner/Instructor, Pickleball Strokes
Remember - you’re just one stroke away!
I love pickleball, and Pickleball Strokes is my on-line home. I live in Ottawa, ON and have been playing pickleball since 2012. I am an avid instructor, referee, and 4.5 player.
I am a Certified Pickleball Teaching Professional, as designated by the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association.
I play with a TMPR Tantrum GXT paddle and I am proud to be a sponsored member of the TMPR Sports Pro team.