There are many terminologies to learn in the world of pickleball, and some of them are even quite comical. Despite the amusement, however, it is essential to know the terms and be familiar with their meaning. One such term commonly used in pickleball is the dink shot. When most people see or hear of a dink — especially those new to the game — they tend to think and ask: “What is a dink in pickleball?” In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about the strange term.
Pickleball Dink Shot | What is It?
A pickleball dink shot is a soft, slow shot that is hit from near the non-volley line. The ball will move downward once it clears the net, then land directly in the opponent’s kitchen, or non-volley zone. Once you hit the dink shot, it forces your opponent to wait for a bounce before hitting the ball. It’s a unique pickleball strategy that a lot of players have started to adopt.
This, in most cases, a dink forces the opponent to hit the ball upwards instead of cross court. Although the pickleball dink and the drop shot are similar in that both shots head downward after crossing the net, the technique of hitting both shots is quite different. The pickleball dink shot also differs from the drop shot in terms of where it is played: A dink is played from the non-volley zone, while the drop shot is played from the back half of the court.
How to Dink in Pickleball
To hit the perfect dink shot in a pickleball game, there are some things you must consider. In this section, we will discuss these steps and explain exactly how to hit a dink in pickleball. Below are step-by-step instructions:
- Hold your paddle using the “dink grip,” AKA the continental grip. To hit a dink successfully, it is very important to use the correct grip. If you’re not sure what this grip is, just hold the paddle with one edge up and the other edge down.
- Hit the ball just before it bounces a second time. To gain control of the shot, it is important to wait and hit the ball until just after it passes the top of the curve, and right before it bounces the second time.
- Use your knees (see also ‘Knees Hurting After Pickleball? Here’s Why‘). When you want to dink in a pickleball game, don’t let your arm do all the work — bend your knees, push your feet down, and lift the ball with your entire body.
- Don’t swing the paddle back before hitting, you don’t want to make the mistake of using a big backswing before hitting the ball. To hit a dink shot, get your paddle underneath the ball so that the face is open and make contact with the ball with just enough force to push it over the net. You don’t want to hit the ball too hard, you just want to give it enough power to get over the net and into the non-volley zone.
As you can see, the dink shot is far different from the drop shot or a cross court hit. It forces players to work on their soft game and will ideally allow you to take advantage of your opponent’s next shot. It is a unique pickleball strategy that is all about outlasting your opponent.
When to Dink in Pickleball
In pickleball, it is recommended that you play a dink shot as the third shot of a play. After the first shot (i.e. the serve), your opponent will try a return as the second shot and likely approach the net while you are still at the baseline. Here, your opponent is at an advantage. But, if you play the dink and it lands at the non-volley zone, it would allow the chance for you to approach the net without the fear of a smash coming at you.
How to Win a Dinking Game in Pickleball
As we mentioned earlier, a dink shot is not about hitting a cross-court shot at your opponent, but instead is a pickleball strategy that focuses on lofting the ball over the net to take advantage of your opponent’s next shot. So if you find yourself in a dinking game with an opponent, the following steps should help you reign victorious.
- When dinking, you should have a low-to-high swing path, and the paddle should not be too far behind the body. To dink successfully, you need to begin with a low and short backswing and finish with a short follow-through.
- Do not hit low. A common misconception in pickleball is that in order to have an effective dink, it is necessary to hit low. Instead, you should remember to hit the ball soft and short while dinking.
Another critical point is to hit the dink shot short in the non-volley zone, or kitchen.
- When engaged in a dinking game with an opponent, you don’t hit the ball hard across the court, but instead, dink the ball just over the net. This will force your opponent to hit their return high up in the air. By following all these steps, you will be much more successful with the dink shot and greatly increase your chances of winning.
In pickleball, dinking is all about making the game drag out as long as you can. Why? Well, it gives your opponent more opportunities to make mistakes before you do. In other words, the longer the game, the more likely it is for your opponent to make an error. That said, to hit a dink shot effectively it is important that you practice regularly and have your technique dialed in. Dinks are a unique part of the game and are one of the shots that any serious pickleball player should adopt.
Before you go, be sure to grab a pair of the best pickleball shoes before you hit the court again.