Dink, “the soft game” in pickleball, is a soft shot where a player hits the ball into the kitchen line from a bounce. The ball bounce then lands inside the opponent’s No Volley Zone (NVZ). It will arc down as it crosses the pickleball net, landing within the NVZ either as a cross-court dink or straight across. The concept of a Dink appears to be deceptively simple, but in reality, it is a shot that requires a lot of finesse from the player.
So, why do players perform a dink shot during a game? When should you dink in a pickleball game against your opponent, and how do you hit it? Where should a player hit the dink shot on the court during a game? Finally, what is the main difference between a dink and a drop shot?
Here is the complete breakdown of dink in pickleball.
What is the Purpose of Dinking in Pickleball?
A dink shot makes it more difficult for opposing pickleball players to return the next shot. In pickleball rules, a pickleball player cannot step past the kitchen line before the ball has bounced, meaning that a good dink forces an opponent out of position to make their next shot hit low, preventing them from attacking you.
It takes an opposing pickleball player out of a high-powered game and into one with a slower pace. Since the opponent can only respond after the ball bounces, it creates a dinking rally, giving you room to breathe. It can frustrate an opponent and cause them to make a mistake. It is the best pickleball strategy when your opponent is hitting harder than you or is more skilled than you.
When Should You Dink in Pickleball?
The simple answer is to do it on the third shot while serving. Playing a dink shot will give you room to cross the pickleball court and get close to the net without fear of a hard shot in return. Of course, the best response to a dink shot is to dink in return, creating a dink battle for a few shots while both sides recover.
It is also an excellent dinking strategy to perform a dink against a taller opponent; an effective dink will level the playing field and negate his height advantage. Most players learn by hitting the ball hard. Forcing the player into a dinking game removes the emphasis from power and causes it to be a game of finesse instead.
How Do You Hit a Dink Shot in Pickleball?
Make sure that you are near the kitchen line; place yourself about an inch or two away from it. There are a few ways to grip the paddle, but the best grip for dinking is the continental grip, where you will keep your pickleball paddle at a 45-degree angle. This grip will allow you to hit the ball with either a backhand or forehand, as the case may be.
Bend your knees, straighten your back and get in the ready position for a return, keeping your arm stiff as you swing in front of your body from low to high. The paddle should come from in front of your body. Finally, remember to use your legs – push up from the bottom and use that momentum to hit. This power from your leg gives you more control and minimizes your swing.
Finally, aim for a foot and a half clearance above the net – you don’t have to make the dink low for it to be a good dink. If you practice this, soon your dinking game will improve.
Where Should the Dink Shot Placement Be on the Court?
The dink shot should fall just inside the opponent’s kitchen line or the non-volley line. A dink can go just across from you, or it can go cross-court. A cross-court dink sends the ball diagonally over the net to the opponent’s side of the court, potentially causing the opponent to make a mistake or commit an unforced error.
What is the Difference Between a Dink and a Drop Shot in Pickleball?
At first glance, one might confuse a dink for a drop shot or vice-versa. Both are a shot hit off a bounce, targeting the area inside the net in the opponent’s non-volley zone. The difference lies in where in the pickleball court the shot is hit. The dink is hit from the kitchen line, whereas a drop shot can be hit from any place on the court, though it is usually at the baseline.
Conclusion: What is a Dink in Pickleball?
In summary, a dink may seem like a simple shot, but it requires a great deal of finesse and can rapidly change the tenor of a game. Dinking can level the playing field and make it anyone’s game when facing an opponent with an advantage in power or height. Plus, it is a great strategy to change the speed of play against your opponent. Changing the speed of play can work to your advantage because it can throw your opponent’s timing and strategy out of whack.
Dink shots appear similar to drop shots but happen from the kitchen line rather than the baseline. They require patience and lots of practice to get right. However, once you master this shot, it can lead to more points for your during games.
Finally, a good dink occurs with minimal swing and momentum from your legs. The dink shot is a soft push into the opposing kitchen, either straight across from you or cross-court. You will likely dink on the third shot after serving and should get ready for a dinking battle. Also, it is good to add dinking to your strategy to change things up during a match. Changing things up can keep your style of play unpredictable, which can lead to more points.
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