Relishing Pickleball: Dink Responsibly

David Zapatka

Often called the most important shot in all of pickleball, the dink is the critical shot aspiring players must learn to improve their game.

The dink is a shot hit slowly and softly into the opponents’ non-volley zone as close to the net as possible. If the opponent hits this ball hard, it goes into the net or out of the court. The only possible shot the opponent has is a defensive shot giving you opportunities.

This shot provides you with numerous strategies:

* You can out-dink your opponents to win the point.

* You can move your opponents left to right, forcing a mistake.

* You can move your opponents left to right to open space in the middle or on the sidelines where you may hit your next shot for a winner.

* Your opponent may crack under the pressure and hit a ball into the net, outside the sidelines, or high enough for you to hit a winner.

* You can slow down the banging by hard-hitting opponents.

* The team that controls the non-volley zone controls the game.

Avoid these common errors:

* Wristy dinking—Keep your arm and wrist straight with the paddle face open.

* Not following through—Although this is a soft shot, you still have to follow through to create enough momentum to get the ball over the net and hit the spot you are targeting.

* Not facing the action—Keep the ball in front of you. Move your feet to get into position to face the direction the ball is coming from. Hitting the ball in front of you, instead of alongside of you, reduces errors.

* Not going into the kitchen—Move into the kitchen to hit those short dinks. Reaching in and not bending your knees is known as a butt shot and often creates an error.

* Not being patient—Stay with the strategy. Do not get offensive until the ball is high enough to hit. Practice dink games with partners to learn how to dink 20, 30, and 40 times without losing your focus.

* Not being ready—Always return to the ready position for the next shot. This means moving your feet and getting your paddle ready.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected]