Pickleball is a sport that is taking the nation by storm. It is also a sport with a lot of unusual and funny terminology in it. “Dink” is one of these more amusing terminologies.
“Dink” is a punchline of many stories about pickleball, and is one of the subjects of a lot of campy t-shirts about pickleball.
However, while this word is a funny one, most people, especially those who are new to the sport or are just starting to hear about it, have absolutely no idea what it means.
It is much more than just a funny word, and we will tell you all about it today!
What Is A Dink?
Dink shots are finesse shots that are hit in an upwards trajectory landing just over the net in the opponent’s ‘No Volley Zone’.
A dink shot will slow the game down, forcing the opponent to move out of their position. If you can hit a good dink shot, it can serve as an equalizer when you are playing against someone stronger or faster than you are.
How To Hit A Good Dink?
There are several ways you can hit a good dink shot.
Firstly, you want to bend your knees as it is significantly easier to hit a dink shot when you have your knees bent. You have to get underneath the ball to be able to hit it properly anyway, so you need to lift the ball with your knees.
This works out as a great workout for your calves and thighs as well. Meanwhile, keep your forearm and wrist relaxed and just move the paddle with the muscles in your shoulders.
You can also use a continental grip, which is a grip used in tennis. Just imagine you are shaking someone’s hand while you hold the paddle. The handle should be against the pad of your hand, and your index finger.
This grip is similar to how you could hold an ax. Your grip should be light, if you hold it gently, then it will absorb the energy of the ball helping it bounce off the paddle in a softer manner.
You can use a consistent stroke, with a low underhand, letting the ball bounce once then reach its peak, begin falling, and then hit it. It requires a steady stroke to hit a dink consistently, so practice is key.
You could also ‘hit into the kitchen’. Dink shots are created to land in the ‘No Volley Zone’ otherwise known as the ‘kitchen’.
It forces the other party to concentrate on their footwork, needing to make sure that the ball bounces in the kitchen before they go to hit it.
If the ball landed in the kitchen, the opposition can’t hit a hard return, if they did, the ball would sail out of bounds or go into the net.
Cross-court dinks will give you even more length to work with than a traditional dink. This is because the ball travels a greater distance, which allows extra time to drop, and gives an even wider margin of error should the ball go high.
Should you be playing a doubles game, hitting a dink cross-court will likely force both players toward the net. Doing this can set up for other shots to the back of the court, or right to the feet of your opponents! It is rife with opportunity.
Practicing Dink Shots
The only real way you can practice dink shots is to find a partner to play with and just hit dink shots back and forth to each other.
The more you practice hitting the ball to your partner on the same side, and cross-court with your opponent the more you will improve.
You should stand just outside of the kitchen on opposite sides, then practice stepping into the kitchen to return after a bounce, and make sure you step outside of it again once you have completed your shot.
If you can get 4 people to practice, this will work even better, hitting dink shots back and forth between you in a figure-of-8 pattern, then switching directions allows everyone to practice hitting over the net and across the court!
Remember, as you practice, that you need to bend your knees, wait for the bounce, for the ball to reach its apex, and then fall before you hit it. Striking in an upwards direction to allow the ball to gently arc over the net to your opponent’s kitchen.
Tips To Help You Hit A Dink Shot
- Always wait for the ball to bounce, and wait until it is about to bounce again to hit the dink, it allows extra time for you to position yourself and know your opponent’s position.
- The drop shot is often confused with the dink shot, however, they are different shots. Drop shots are like dink shots, but they are hit from the back of the court. Understanding both of these will improve your game.
- Dink shots are not winning shots, they set you up for winning shots. They do this by forcing your opponent to hit at a difficult angle, making their return weaker, which you can use to your advantage.
- Dink shots need to be hit softly, if you hit them hard, they will go too high and your opponent will have the opportunity to hit them back hard to you. Do not rush perfect playing more softly.
Dink shots are not winning shots, but they help you set up for a winning shot by making your opponent struggle more. Dink shots need patience and practice being able to master them.
However, it is worth putting in the time and effort to get used to them, as they can be game changers, allowing you an easier and smoother win.