After you’ve gotten the hang of the basics when it comes to movement and striking in pickleball, it’s time to move on to the more advanced techniques which will help take your skills to the next level so that you can outsmart your opponents and secure the win.
The dink shot is one of these techniques that may be a little difficult to learn and very difficult to master, however, it can immediately change the momentum of a match in your favor and can commonly be seen being used by some of the very best players in tournaments.
Here’s everything you need to know about the dink shot, and how you can execute it for yourself when you feel it’s the right time to start adding some new and improved techniques to your arsenal.
What Is A Dink Shot?
A player will hit a dink shot by bluntly tapping the ball while in the non-volley zone or kitchen line after it bounces so that it lands in the opponent’s non-volley zone with the aim of creating a downward arc so that the ball barely reaches over the net.
When a player hits a well-placed dink shot with just enough power, it makes it extremely difficult for the opposing players to get an effective return on the ball while also forcing them to move out of position to move closer to the net when they might instead prefer to hang back.
While you can hit a dink shot straight, most players will choose to try and hit crosscourt dinks instead since this can force the opponent off the court, and because the net is slightly lower in the center, making it much easier and a better method for creating a gap in the opponent’s side of the court.
How Is A Dink Different From A Drop Shot?
Because they are struck in similar ways, without much power being applied onto the ball with the paddle, many players will mistake a drop shot and a dink, despite there being some big differences that make each one suitable for very different situations.
While a dink is always hit from the kitchen line or non-volley zone, the drop shot is hit from the baseline.
Just like the dink, when a player hits a drop shot, they are still trying to get the ball to land in the opponent’s non-volley zone, however, the major difference is where you’re actually hitting the ball with a drop shot being much further out.
This also makes dink shots a little harder since you need to be anticipating the ball to bounce in the non-volley zone which isn’t always a guarantee, meaning you will need to have a good read of your opponent’s movements and playstyle while a drop shot can be executed much easier since you are given much more space and time to decide how to return the ball.
How To Hit A Dink Shot
Getting the hang of the dink shot is fairly easy when you know what you’re doing, however just like a lot of the more advanced techniques in pickleball (Also check out What Is A Lob In Pickleball?), it will require a good amount of practice and experience to hit it accurately every time.
The key to hitting an effective dink shot is to have a gentle lifting motion when hitting the ball since too much pressure can easily cause the ball to overextend and clear the kitchen line.
Make sure the paddle face is open and use a low to high swing path using your shoulder to guide the motion.
You won’t want to use a wrist break or a backswing because these can put a little too much pressure on the ball, and since you’re already close enough to the net, the aim is simply to apply enough pressure to lift the ball over the net without giving it much distance which can end up leading the ball straight to the opponent.
You therefore always want to have the paddle in front of you when gearing up for a dink shot to avoid any power from a backswing propelling the ball too far over the kitchen line.
Extra Tips For Hitting A Dink Shot
Many high-level pickleball players will agree that the dink is one of those techniques that you will need to reliably perform when the situation calls for it in order to elevate your game to a 4.0 ranking.
Perfecting the dink isn’t easy, but by practicing it for yourself, watching other players perform it, and taking a few extra hints, you’ll be gently lifting the ball over the net in no time.
Here are a few additional tips that can help you perform an effective and accurate dink shot each and every time.
1) Maintain A short Follow Through
It’s crucial to always make sure your follow-through motion is as short as possible rather than extending it since this can cause the ball to fly high or even out of the court entirely.
2) Practice With Your Back Hand Too
Many players will only practice hitting dinks with a straight shot, however, there will be many cases in games where a backhand is a more suitable option for gently lifting the ball over the net.
This can initially be a little trickier in practice since the soft follow-through motion with no backswing can feel a little awkward at first, which is why it’s just as important to practice hitting the ball this way.
3) Use Your Legs
Always bend your knees rather than your back when preparing a dink shot. Many players make the mistake of bending over which not only leaves you less mobile but will also lead to an achy back which is never ideal for a pickleball player.
If you have dreams of elevating your game to 4.0 and above, you’re going to need as many techniques under your belt as possible, and the dink shot is one of the most important that can place a tremendous amount of pressure on your opponent mid-match.