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Tips for Dinking in Pickleball

The Art of Pickleball Coach Jerry Jaffe

Jerry Jaffe

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When dinking at the net, you can take a shot out of the air as long as you’re behind the kitchen line. Doing this shortens your opponents’ reaction time, which may force them to make an error and give you an advantage. Just remember that you cannot hit a ball out of the air if you step into the kitchen area. 

As you play dink shots at the kitchen line, you’ll want to maintain your position and avoid moving backward. To stay near the kitchen line as long as possible, you’ll either want to play the ball off a bounce or play it out of the air depending on your opponent’s shot. The best return option is the one that enables you to keep your position without stepping or retreating backward.

When playing a dink to your opponent, the best location for your shot depends on what you hope to accomplish. For example, if you want to open up the middle on your opponent’s side for your next shot, you may want to send the ball toward the sideline. This forces your opponent away from the middle, allowing you to target the open area on your next play.  

If you want to open up your opponent’s court behind the kitchen line, you may opt to short-hop a ball close to your opponent’s side of the net so they have to move in to make the play. This leaves the area behind them exposed. The goal of an effective dink is to open up the court so you can play an aggressive shot on your next hit. 

Be sure you’re gripping your paddle lightly. On a scale of 1 to 10, your grip pressure should be about a 3. This ensures you have a relaxed hand on touch shots.

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