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Mastering the Art of Pickleball Dinking: 11 Simple Tips to Elevate Your Game

Pickleball dinking is a technique that involves hitting the ball softly and precisely over the net, strategically placing it in your opponent’s court. This delicate shot requires finesse, control, and precise placement to keep your opponents off balance. In this section, we will explore what pickleball dinking entails and its significance in the game, highlighting how it can serve as a strategic weapon to gain an advantage over opponents.

1. Master the Paddle Angle

Master the Paddle Angle: Pickleball

The angle of your paddle plays a crucial role in dinking. Hold your paddle slightly above the wrist, with the face of the paddle pointing upwards. This position will help you create an upward trajectory and generate a soft shot with minimal bounce.

In the pickleball game, dinking’s the key, A gentle touch that brings opponents to their knee.


2. Focus on Soft Hands

When dinking, aim for a gentle touch on the ball by using soft hands. Avoid gripping the paddle too tightly, as it can lead to a harder shot. Maintain a relaxed grip, allowing the paddle to absorb the impact of the ball smoothly.

3. Position Yourself Correctly

Proper positioning is vital for successful dinking. Stand close to the non-volley zone (kitchen) line and be ready to move your feet. By positioning yourself well, you’ll have better control over the ball and increase your chances of executing precise shots.

Soft shots over the net, with precision and finesse, Placing the ball strategically, causing opponents distress.


4. Watch the Ball

Keep your eyes fixed on the ball throughout the dinking process. This will help you anticipate its movement and adjust your shot accordingly. By focusing on the ball, you’ll have better control over the placement and direction of your dink.


5. Aim for the Middle

When dinking, aim for the middle of your opponent’s court. Hitting the ball down the middle creates confusion and forces your opponents to make quick decisions. It also reduces their angle options, making it harder for them to execute effective shots.

With paddle in hand, the dinking game unfolds, A dance of control, where skill and tactics behold.


6. Vary Your Shot Selection

To keep your opponents off-balance, incorporate shot variation into your dinking game. Mix up your shots by occasionally aiming for the sidelines, corners, or lobbing the ball over your opponent’s head. By adding variety, you’ll increase the difficulty for your opponents and gain an edge.

7. Use Soft Pace and Control

Dinking is all about finesse rather than power. Focus on maintaining a soft pace on your shots, using finesse and control to place the ball precisely. Avoid hitting the ball too hard, as it increases the chances of it bouncing high and giving your opponents an opportunity to attack.

Angles and spins, mastered by the pro, Creating opportunities, delivering a blow.


8. Utilize the Third Shot Drop

The third shot drop is a vital strategy in pickleball, especially for initiating dinking rallies. After your serve, aim to hit a soft, low shot that lands close to the net, forcing your opponents to hit upwards. This strategic shot gives you an advantageous position to engage in dinking exchanges.

9. Practice Footwork and Balance

Footwork and balance are essential elements of successful dinking. Focus on staying light on your feet, being able to move quickly and adjust your position to meet the ball effectively. Practice shuffling your feet, maintaining balance, and staying in the ideal dinking stance.

The art of dinking, a subtle and crafty play, Sending opponents scurrying, trying to find a way.


10. Develop Soft Touch and Feel

Dinking requires a refined sense of touch and feel. Spend time practicing your soft touch shots, working on developing a delicate feel for the ball. Engage in drills that focus on precision and control, allowing you to improve your touch over time.

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11. Play with Different Partners

Lastly, expose yourself to different playing styles by partnering up with various individuals. Each player has their own approach to dinking, and by playing with different partners, you’ll be exposed to diverse strategies and techniques. This exposure will broaden your understanding of the game and enhance your dinking abilities.

The kitchen becomes a battleground, a tactical zone, As dinks are exchanged, like whispers in a cyclone.


Understanding Pickleball Dinking:

Pickleball dinking is a controlled shot that is executed with a gentle touch, keeping the ball low and close to the net. Unlike power shots, dinking involves reducing the ball’s speed and trajectory, aiming for soft landings. The objective is to force your opponents into difficult positions and limit their options for aggressive shots.

The Significance of Dinking in Pickleball:

Dinking plays a crucial role in pickleball for several reasons:

Control and Placement:

Dinking allows players to maintain control over the ball and precisely place it in strategic areas of the opponent’s court. This control allows for greater accuracy and sets the stage for setting up winning shots.

Setting the Pace:

By engaging in dinking rallies, players can dictate the pace of the game. Slowing down the game with soft shots can disrupt opponents who prefer a faster pace, forcing them to adjust their strategy and potentially make mistakes.

Tactical Advantage:

Dinking creates strategic opportunities. By placing the ball close to the net, players force their opponents to hit from a disadvantaged position, often resulting in weak returns. This allows the player who initiated the dinking exchange to take control of the point and set up winning shots.

Frustrating Opponents:

Dinking can be mentally and physically taxing for opponents. It requires patience, concentration, and quick reflexes to respond effectively to soft shots. Consistently executing well-placed dinks can frustrate opponents, leading to unforced errors and creating openings for more aggressive shots.

The Strategic Aspect of Dinking:

Dinking is not merely a defensive or passive tactic; it can be a potent weapon for gaining a competitive edge:

Disrupting Rhythm:

Dinking disrupts the rhythm and flow of the game. By introducing slower shots, players can break the opponent’s rhythm and force them out of their comfort zone. This unpredictability can create opportunities for errors and provide openings for strategic shots.

Controlling the Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen):

The non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen, is a critical area in pickleball. By engaging in dinking exchanges, players can position the ball close to the net, limiting the opponent’s ability to attack from the kitchen. This strategic positioning gives players more control over the point and reduces the opponent’s offensive options.

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Forcing Errors:

Dinking puts pressure on opponents to execute precise shots. Soft shots close to the net require opponents to hit upwards, increasing the chances of errors such as popping the ball up or hitting it into the net. This creates opportunities for winning points or gaining a significant advantage in the rally.

Interesting Fact

One interesting fact about pickleball dinking is that it is often referred to as the “third shot drop.” This term originated from the strategic nature of the shot in the game. After the serve and return, the third shot is crucial in setting up the rhythm of the point. Instead of hitting a hard shot, players opt for a soft and well-placed dink that lands close to the net. This shot aims to force opponents into hitting upwards, giving the player who executed the third shot drop a better position to continue the dinking exchange and gain control of the point. The term “third shot drop” reflects the significance and tactical nature of dinking in pickleball gameplay.


Improving your pickleball dinking skills requires practice and focus. Start by mastering the proper paddle angle and using soft hands for a gentle touch on the ball. Positioning yourself correctly near the non-volley zone (kitchen) line and practicing footwork and balance are also crucial. Additionally, vary your shot selection, focus on soft pace and control, and utilize the third shot drop strategy to enhance your dinking game.

While dinking is commonly associated with defensive play, it can also be an effective offensive strategy. By placing soft shots close to the net, you can force your opponents into difficult positions, limiting their options for aggressive shots. This allows you to take control of the point and set up winning shots. Dinking can disrupt opponents’ rhythm, frustrate them, and create opportunities for errors, providing openings for more aggressive shots.

Yes, there are various drills and exercises you can incorporate into your practice routine to improve your dinking skills. Some common drills include practicing soft touch shots by hitting the ball softly back and forth with a partner, focusing on accuracy and placement. Another useful drill is the “target practice” drill, where you aim to land the dink shots in specific areas of the opponent’s court. Additionally, incorporating simulated game situations and practicing defensive dinking can further enhance your skills. Experiment with different drills to find what works best for you and dedicate regular practice time to improve your pickleball dinking abilities.

Dustin DeTorres

Dustin has been a Pickleball enthusiast for years and dedicated this blog to providing the best information out there about this fun game.

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