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The Dink

The "dink" is a fundamental and strategic shot in pickleball, played near the net. It is a soft, controlled shot that is executed with the aim of hitting the ball over the net less than a foot in height and landing the ball in the opponent's non-volley zone (NVZ), a.k.a. the "Kitchen." The dink is an essential part of the game, especially in doubles play, as it helps players gain control of the net and set up opportunities for winning points. Here's more information about the dink:

the dink

Execution:

  • The dink is typically an underhand shot, executed with a short and controlled swing of the paddle. Be sure to follow through the shot, but no need to hit the ball hard.

  • Players aim to gently get the ball over the net and land it into the opponent's NVZ/Kitchen area, in front of the NVZ/Kitchen line.

Purpose:

  • The primary purpose of the dink is to control the pace of the game and set up favorable situations for the player and their partner.

  • By keeping the ball low and close to the net, players can make it difficult for opponents to attack and force errors.

Net Play:

  • Dinking is often associated with net play, where players engage in short, soft exchanges near the net.

  • Successful dinking requires touch, finesse, and precise control over the placement of the ball.

Strategic Value:

  • The dink is a strategic shot used to neutralize opponents, especially those who are more comfortable with power and aggressive play.

  • It is an effective way to respond to hard-hitting shots and to initiate a patient and controlled rally.

Variations:

  • There are variations of the dink, including the cross-court dink and the straight-ahead dink. Players may also add spin to the ball to create different trajectories.

Dink Rally:

  • Skilled players engage in long dink rallies, where they exchange soft shots near the net in a back-and-forth fashion. These rallies can be used to maneuver opponents out of position, setting up attacks such as volleys or smashes to win points more effectively. 

Footwork:

  • Successful dinking requires good footwork to maintain balance and position at the net. Players need to predominately move laterally and be prepared for the next shot.

Controlled Power:

  • While the dink is a soft shot, it still requires controlled power. Players need to find the right balance between hitting the ball with enough force to clear the net and with enough finesse to keep it low and close.

Practice:

  • Developing a consistent and effective dink requires practice. Players often spend time working on their touch and precision to master this essential aspect of the game.


In summary, the dink is a crucial shot in pickleball that emphasizes control, finesse, and strategic placement. It is a key component of net play and contributes to the overall strategy of the game, allowing players to dictate the pace and direction of play.


The most important things to do while dinking:

  • Get dinks over the net and into the opponent’s kitchen area

  • Keep dinks low so they cannot be attacked

  • Move laterally with proper footwork to stay in the best dinking position

  • Look to attack opponent’s high dinks

  • Add top-spin and/or side-spin to make dinking harder for opponents

  • Keep dinks inside the court area to not allow for around-the-post (ATP) opportunities


Are you interested in learning more about this pickleball shot? Or taking lessons to help you improve + master it? Click the link below to schedule time for your personalized lesson with our certified pickleball instructors! 



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