What is Dinking in Pickleball? How do I learn to Dink?

How to Dink in Pickleball

You have heard about the dink shot and how effective it can be to win pickleball when done correctly. However, you’ve searched to no avail helpful material to teach you. If you are tired of losing pickleball and you’d like to play and win like a pro that you can be, you have to learn how to dink. 


Your success rate in pickleball is greatly determined by how you can outsmart your opponent by destroying their gameplay. Dinking is one of the most effective ways to change the pace in your favor when playing pickleball. To learn more about how the dink shot can be the game-changer you’ve been looking for, read on!

Get in Position Just Behind the Kitchen 

Get in a good ready position – meaning in which you are ready to move quickly in any direction. The kitchen is the non-volley zone that extends seven feet on either side of the net, all the way to the sidelines on both sides. 

Bend Your Knees and Get Your Paddle at 45 Degrees

If you want to slow down the pace of the play by dinking, you must bend from your knees and keep your back straight. When bending, players often make the mistake of doing it from the waist. 

You’ll be using the power of your legs for the shot, so the knee bend is important. And by bending at the knees, you have made your center of gravity lower. This makes it easy for you to get your paddle at the right angle – slightly up at 45 degrees. 

Grip the Paddle Lightly

Your hands should be soft and relaxed. You don’t need a tight grip. If you are someone who tends to grip the paddle really tightly, try really softening your grip. Sometimes lifting your thumb from the paddle or placing it on the side of the paddle forces you to loosen up. 

Swing from Your Shoulder and use a Firm Arm and Wrist

Also, bending of the knees and the 45-degree angle are essential, so is using your shoulder to swing while making sure that your wrist and arm are firm. It should be a very short motion – more of a “lift” than a swing. And it’s a paddle and body motion.  It’s soft, short and controlled. Don’t swing your paddle behind your body. Contact the ball in front of your body.


Keep Your Eye on the Ball and Be Prepared

When the dink is finally shot, you must follow the ball with your eyes throughout the follow-through. And the follow-through should be short – under two feet. By doing this, you will be able to prepare yourself for whatever form of counterattack your opponent is launching.

Be Patient and Practice

It’s perfectly normal if you don’t get the stance on the first go or if you don’t know, always respond to a dink at the appropriate time. There is a place of practice and patience in mastering the dinking shot. If you have these two, then there is no telling what amazing thing you could do when playing the game of pickleball.

What Is Dinking in Pickleball?

Dinking, otherwise known as a soft game, is a shot whose intended purpose is to go further downwards the moment it passes over the net, causing it to land on the no-volley zone. 

One of the goals dinking seeks to achieve is forcing your opponents to play at your own pace. And since most players are taught to hit hard when playing pickleball, taking them off that pace is a great strategy to win against them. Given what dinking does to your opponents’ strategy, it more often than not causes them to make mistakes or find it impossible to counterattack your dink. 

Why Is Dinking Used in Pickleball?

As we have insinuated above, the Dink in Pickleball is used to change the pace at which your opponent is playing to a more suitable one chosen by you. 

When an opponent uses a fast, aggressive strategy to take you out, dinking softens the game, making it impossible to smash. Dink is used to diffuse or decelerate the speed and intensity in a Pickleball game. 

Dinks often land at the no-volley zone at the opponent’s feet; given this, the opponent wouldn’t be able to give a high-powered shot. 

Furthermore, if your dink lands in the kitchen zone, your opponent would have no choice but to wait till it bounces. And playing the volley up is the only attack when the dink lands close to an opponent’s feet. 

When Should You Use A Dink Shot?

It’s no doubt that the power of a dink can be of great advantage against your opponent and sometimes against all odds. However, this is the kind of strategy that can backfire with devastating effects if not done properly or at the appropriate time. If you are wondering when to use Dink Shot, here are three clear instances. 

Against Taller Opponents

When faced with opponents who have the advantage of height, it is near impossible to win against them either by giving them a chance to smash or by making them stretch. If you find yourself in a situation like this, the dink can come in handy. 

Since it’s played just above the net, the dink shot forces your opponents to bend their torso and even knee, causing them to hit out outside of the game. 

Dinking against taller players changes the tides of the game by making it harder for such players to make returns. Once a tall player lost a position, it would be harder to return a dink when used. 

Third Shot

For the time you are serving, playing the dink as your third shot is perfect. After you’ve served your first shot, your opponent is likely going hit the ball in the rally before rushing towards the net. At this point, you will still be at the baseline giving your opponent an advantage over you.

However, playing a dink that lands at the opponent’s feet or the no-volley zone would cut down the chances of your opponent smashing at you. Hence, making it easier for you to run towards the net.

When Returning A Dink

Admit it; you saw this coming, didn’t you? Dinking is a powerful strategy that can disarm most of the counters you can think of. Take, for example, if your opponent plays a dink making a hard smash is likely going to go wrong. However, the perfect counter for an opponent’s dink is a dink of your own. 

When you do this, it often causes a dinking tussle for the next three to four shots, which will, in turn, level the playing field for both of you. After this, you only need to be patient to play something aggressive. 

When Not to Dink

Being a powerful strategy, it is pretty normal for it to be a go-to for you when playing pickleball. However, this shouldn’t be leaned on too heavily. There are some situations where dinking can be worthless or, worse, dangerous to your game. 

An example of such a situation is when you are with your partner at the net, and you’ve pinned your opponent to the baseline. Here dinking would be abortive as it would turn the tide for you by giving your opponent a chance to get close to the net. 

Instead, it is often advised to keep your opponents at the baseline as that would better your winning chances.

What Is the Right Dinking Position?

There are quite a number of dinking positions or strokes that you can pick choose from. While this sometimes depends on the position, you find yourself in. It is essential you know the different strokes in case one of them will be the next effective shot you are taking.

Before we get to the different positions, there is a need to answer this one question – where is this dink going? Do you want it to hit the groundstroke or the volley?

  • The groundstroke is a ball that is hit after bouncing off the ground and results in shorter travel.
  • A volley is a ball that is hit midair, which oftentimes bounces off the paddle, traveling farther and faster. 

Having said this, here are the two dinking strokes you can consider in pickleball: the straightaway and the cross-court dink. 

The Straightaway Dink Shot

The straightaway is the easiest form of dink shot. It is a dink played opposite you to your opponent. Since it’s easy to execute and counter, it is often used as a form of warm-up. 

The Cross-Court Dink Shot

The cross-court dink, on the other hand, is a dink shot targeted at the opponent’s sideline while still being very close to the net. When doing this stroke, strive to always allow the ball to barely pass the net as this would make it harder for your opponent to hit back.

The Next-level Dinking

Having learned what and how dinking is done, you might want to upgrade your dinking skill, hence the need for the advanced form of dinking. Here we will discuss the two major types of advanced dinking: dinking conversions and backhand or forehand dink spin.

Dinking Conversions

Sometimes, when your opponent dinks, they make the mistake of hitting it a bit higher than normal. This would allow you to make a return. Here, it is best to return your opponent’s play with a high-powered shot. This act of returning your opponent’s dink is called dinking conversion.

Backhand or Forehand Dink Spin

The backhand or forehand dink spin is one of the toughest and most effective forms of dinks. It can be particularly hard for people who are yet to learn the cross-court dink. It is done by simply pushing your paddle towards the direction you wish the ball to travel.


Having gone through the step-by-step process of knowing how and when to dink, it is important also to emphasize the importance of practice. This will not only serve as a way of perfecting your dink shot but also get your body accustomed to it. You’ll be successfully employing this effective pickleball strategy in no time!


Nicole is a pickleball enthusiast who started playing pickleball in 2017. Always trying to improve her game, she shares helpful tips and tricks for people wanting to learn to play pickleball. Its an obsession.

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