Dinking in Pickleball: 5 Essential Strategies

1. Dink in Front, 2. Give Your Dink Some Room, 3. Volley Whenever Possible, 4. Hit the Pressure Points, 5. Force Dead Dinks. Following these five stra

Regarding pickleball, dinking is a crucial game that requires finesse, control, and patience. However, many new players often need help with this technique. They mistakenly see every dink as an opportunity to launch an offensive shot, but the true goal of dinking is to force your opponent into making a mistake. A well-executed dink puts your opponent under pressure and gives you an advantage.

 Dinking in Pickleball: 5 Essential Strategies

This article will delve into five fundamental strategies that will significantly improve your dinking game. By incorporating these strategies into your gameplay, you'll find your opponents setting you up for easy shots or even committing faults.

1. Dink in Front

This strategy forms the foundation of effective dinking and is essential for successfully executing other dinking and volleying techniques. It would help to keep the ball in front of your body throughout the shot to dink properly.

To achieve this, follow these guidelines:

Stance: Adopt an athletic stance by slightly widening your feet, bending your knees, and tilting your body forward. This position improves your reaction time and keeps you on the balls of your feet.

Paddle Position: Stand around the non-volley zone line (kitchen line) and imagine throwing a ball to land on your opponent's kitchen line. Keep your hands 1 to 2 feet away from your body, with your elbows tucked in slightly.

Swing: Maintain a tight backswing when dinking. Avoid reaching beyond your shoulder, as this increases the likelihood of popping the ball up. Instead, imagine stretchi

ng your arms like wings, with your hands moving equally toward the net, creating a right angle.

Court Position: Ideally, try to stay in the exchange by the kitchen without stepping back or swinging beyond your shoulder line. If you need to move back, avoid backpedalling. Keep one foot planted and move the other foot back to make the shot, then return it to your initial position. This ensures you don't give up space and get pushed out of the kitchen.

2. Give Your Dink Some Room

Contrary to popular belief, successful dinking is more than just about barely clearing the net. Instead, focus on where the ball lands rather than how close it comes to the net.

To enhance your dinking accuracy and consistency, follow these tips:

Soft Hands for Dinking: Maintain a hammer grip (continental grip) and focus on using your index finger and thumb to lift the paddle while keeping your other fingers stable. This technique promotes softer shots and prevents excessive force.

Hit from Your Shoulder:

  • Avoid relying solely on your wrist for the dink shot.
  • Keep your wrist stiff, allowing only your shoulder to move.
  • Lift the paddle using your shoulder to maintain control and achieve a proper one-foot clearance over the net.

3. Volley Whenever Possible

Dinking plays a pivotal role in pickleball, especially in doubles matches. Incorporating the technique of volleying the ball in the air, known as a dink volley, adds pressure to your opponent and disrupts their rhythm.

Why does volleying create pressure?

By volleying instead of letting the ball bounce, you reduce your opponent has time to react and reset for the shot. Even a fractional second can significantly impact a fast-paced sport like pickleball. Your opponent may need help to adjust, leading to more mistakes.

To incorporate dink volleys effectively:

  • Make it a goal to dink volley whenever possible, with the exception of shots that require the ball to bounce.
  • Instead of dropping back to volley, bend your knees and lift the ball, maintaining a comfortable position near the net.

4. Hit the Pressure Points

To force your opponent into making mistakes, you need to create uncomfortable situations for them. One effective way to achieve this is through push dinks, which apply pressure on your opponent and limit their options.

A push dink involves hitting the ball in front of your opponent's feet, ideally in the final third of their non-volley zone. This placement poses several challenges for your opponent:

Reaction Time: They have little time to react, increasing their chances of being unable to reset before the ball drops.

Distance: They must get low to make contact, requiring the paddle to cover more distance in a shorter time, compromising shot angles.

Angle: Your opponent needs to clear the net at a higher point, making it more challenging for them to execute the shot effectively.

To execute a push dink successfully:

  • Hit the ball with slightly more firmness while maintaining control.
  • Adjust the strength of your push dink depending on your opponent's position on the court.
  • Mix up your dinks to avoid predictability and keep your opponent guessing.

5. Force Dead Dinks

To gain an advantage, you should create scenarios that make it difficult for your opponent to execute dinks effectively. Dead dinks, also known as weak dinks, occur when a player is off-balance, using poor form, or feeling pressured. These shots are easy to return and should be avoided at all costs.

To force dead dinks and increase your chances of winning:

  • Avoid allowing your opponent to play in front by placing the ball to their sides, forcing them to move or swing further back than they prefer.
  • Create discomfort by targeting their weaker side, such as their backhand, or aiming for shots that bounce directly in the center of their stance. Dink low to get the ball as close to their feet as possible.
  • Prevent your opponent from hitting the ball in the air, as this reduces your reaction time. Use speed and placement to force bounces in the final third of their kitchen area.


Following these five strategies will make you a formidable dinking player on the pickleball court. Remember always to keep the ball in front of you and embrace soft hands for better control. Additionally, aim to incorporate volleying techniques, create pressure through well-placed dinks, and force your opponents into weak shots.

While winning isn't everything, understanding the game and honing your skills will improve your performance. So go out there and start dinking like a pro!

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