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What is Dinking in Pickleball: Tips for improving

What is dinking in pickleball?

Dinking is a type of pickleball shot used to place the ball in a strategic position on the court. A dink is a soft, low shot that is hit with control and accuracy. And it is different from a power shot. The goal of dinking is to put the ball in a spot that makes it hard for the opponent to reach and return, giving the player an edge in the rally.

As I said before, one of the most important parts of dinking is being able to hit anywhere on the floor from the same spot. When dunking, players want to be able to hit the ball crosscourt, down the line, or in the middle, all from the same stance. To improve the dinking game, I always tell people how important it is to stand in the right place, control the paddle, and follow through. By focusing on these technical aspects, players can hit accurate shots and put the ball in places where it is hard for the opponent to return it.

 What is Dinking in Pickleball

Paddle control

The most important part of dinking is being able to control the paddle. Players should line up their paddles, hips, and shoulders with the ball to improve precision. This will ensure the paddle is in the right place to hit the ball and make it easier for the player to direct the shot. Follow-through is also very important. I always tell people, "Follow through, follow through, follow through." It is the key to going from down the line to crosscourt and staying steady. Players should finish their shots by keeping the paddle in contact with the ball until it lands.

Changing the position of the ball

Adjusting to where the ball is is another essential part of dinking. This means that players should focus on moving their weight and opening up their bodies to match the angle of the ball as they hit it. This lets players move their weight toward the ball and stay closer to the goal, making it easier to hit the next shot in the air or off a bounce. I also always tell them how important it is to keep their head still, keep their eyes on the other player, and keep the ball in front of them.

In pickleball, it's also important to remember that less is always more. Players should practice control and try not to move around too much. This will make their shots more accurate and consistent. I always tell my players to keep their attention on the face of their paddle, where the ball will go. If the paddle face faces the right way, the ball will go in that direction. Also, try to make it easier instead of harder, and practice as much as possible.

What is a Pickleball Dink Shot?

A dink shot in pickleball is a type of shot that is used to control the pace of the game and to gain an advantage over the opponent. The shot is taken close to the net, generally with a light touch, to get the ball just over the net or within the opponent's reach. A good dink shot can put the other player on the defensive and give you a chance to shoot more aggressively. It's often used to drop the ball in front of the opponent, making it harder for them to make a clean return or to throw off their flow. For a skilled player to make a good dink shot, they need to be able to place and control the ball precisely.

Tips for Improving Your Pickleball Dinking

Tips for Improving Your Pickleball Dinking

Tip 1: Get into the position

It would be best to be in the right spot when you dink the ball. You want to stand like an athlete, with your body parallel to the net. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your knees should be bent. This gives you the best chance to move side to side and enough space to get back from shots to your left and right. 

Your paddle should be at a 45-degree angle in front of you, and your grip should be loose (think 3–4 on the grip strength scale). You should be able to get low and hit the ball with enough speed and curve to get it over the net.

Tip 2: Wait for the right time to strike.

We all feel the rush to score quickly when we're up at the net. But sometimes, a dink shot is more about setting up a better goal for later. It's not unusual for dinks to go back and forth for 4 or 5 shots in a row before someone makes a bold move to score. 

Try your best to be calm and make your opponent make a mistake instead of making a mistake yourself. When the time is right, though, go for the putaway.

Tip 3: Keep Your Eyes on the Ball

In sports, you've heard to keep your eyes on the ball. This is also true for pickleball and especially for dinking. It's easy to take your eyes off the ball and look at where you want to hit it. What happens if you do that, though? You hit the ball by chance with the side of your paddle, or you completely miss it. Practice watching the ball hit your paddle and using your side vision to keep track of the person in front of you.

Tip 4: Move your feet

When the ball is in play, standing still is rarely a good idea. We should always be ready to go up, down, to the left, or the right. You don't want to be caught off guard at the NVZ line (the kitchen) and have to lunge at your opponent's return shot. Instead, keep your feet moving and, if you need to, even take a step back. 

You should also avoid crossing your feet. Instead, move sideways as much as possible to keep your balance.

Tip 5: Stay in Line

Up at the line, there is a lot of stress. The ball moves fast, and both teams are trying to get a "kill shot." Stand your ground and don't back down when you're in the cooking area. If you move away from the NVZ line, your opponent could shoot at your feet, which is hard to defend against. So, if you move back, return where you were while waiting for the next shot. 

Tip 6: Watch your feet or hit it on the short hop

To hit on the short hop, you let the ball bounce and then hit it as it returns. This gets a few things done:

  • It lets you control the ball before it moves, spins away, or gets up in your stomach area.
  • It pushes you to get down low and under the ball, which is the best place to be anyway.
  • It lets you use the ball's speed to push your shot back over the net.
  • When they are at the line, good players aim their shots at your feet to put you in a bad situation and make it harder for you to hit back well. If you hit the ball when it's close to the ground, this will happen less often.

Tip 7: Get low

It would help if you were low to the ground for short shots when you hit the ball. Players often bend their legs so low that they almost touch the ground. Even though you may not be flexible enough to do that, you should work on staying as low as possible and using your body's motion to hit the ball cleanly as you rise.

Tip 8: Lift through the ball with care.

We often say that you should hit through the ball when you play. This probably isn't true on a drive shot, where you need to hit the ball hard and send it in a straight line over the net. But for a drive, you have to turn your hips as you move toward the ball. For the dink shot, you don't need to turn your hips as much as you need to lift your whole body off the ground. It should feel like you're standing up from where you're sitting. 

This soft lift gives you the perfect touch to softly land the ball on the other side of the net.

Tip #9 - Get the ball out of the air

To get the ball to stop flying, you have to hit it before it bounces. Sometimes you have to do this because there isn't enough space between you and the NVZ line to bounce, and sometimes it's done on purpose. When you are dunking, hitting the ball out of the air can change the game's pace, take away the extra variable that a bounce adds, and put more pressure on your opponent. 

But it takes practice to know when to catch it and when to let it bounce. 

Tip 10: Move the ball around.

It's usually not a good idea to keep hitting your shots to the same spot. If you're not trying to set up a later shot, move your dink shots around to keep your opponent guessing. You can hit dink shots that are short or deep, or you can play the ball left or right. Make your opponent work harder and try to move them out of the way so you can easily put them away.

Tip  11: Work with your partner.

It can be a lot of fun to play doubles at the net. But it's also a small place, so communication is key to making it work. So often, one partner runs into another's space, leading to a collision, confusion, or a huge hole that their opponents can take advantage of. When playing doubles and making small shots, talk more and try to work together as much as possible.

Here are 11 tips to help you improve your dink shots in pickleball. If you use one or more of these in your next match or while practicing, we guarantee that everyone else will be complaining while you keep winning.

3 mistakes made by beginners and intermediate players when Dinking?

  1. Using your wrist: When newbies hit, they often flick their wrists, which speeds up the paddle just before it hits the ball. This can cause you to lose control of the ball and cause it to pop up, which makes it easy for your opponent to hit. To keep this from happening, keep your wrist still and strong as you swing, and start your swing with your shoulders. This is true for shots with both the forehand and the backhand.
  2. Using your elbows: This mistake is more common on the backhand side but can also happen on the forehand. When players swing with their arms, they often chop at the ball, which makes them move quickly up to the ball and stop quickly after hitting it. This motion is hard to control and adds more parts that move. To avoid this, come under the ball and lift it with your arm as you swing. Keep your elbow straight through the whole shot and in a position that stays mostly the same as you move.
  3. Backing up too far to hit your shot: Players, especially beginners, tend to back up when the ball is going to land past the kitchen line. But if the ball is going to drop past the kitchen line, it is best to stay on that line and hit the shot out of the air to get low. This will keep the ball from moving and make it harder for your opponent to hit it into your feet. Also, if you hit the ball out of the air, you can add less power to your shot, which makes it less likely that the ball will pop up.


Dinking is an essential part of pickleball that needs to be done with the right skill and positioning. Players can improve their dinking game and take their pickleball skills to the next level by working on paddle control, follow-through, and adjusting to where the ball is. These tips and tricks will help you play pickleball like a pro. Happy playing!

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