Pickleball Strategy from the Pickleball Guru
Get Your Paddle Up, Out & In Front of Your Chest Before & After Every Shot
This is true for every shot, of course, but especially when you are at the net, you need to be ready for a high fast shot, or a low soft shot, so keeping your paddle up in the ready position between each shot is crucial.
The other tips to hit a good dink are…very similar to the tips I gave in 4 Secrets to Get Your Dropshot to Go Where You Want (and Not Where You Don’t)
Hit the Ball Just Before the Second Bounce
After the ball bounces, you actually have much more time than you expect to hit it before it bounces again. Many players try to take the ball after the bounce & before the ball reaches the top of the next arch. But in order to get the most control of your shot, you need to wait and hit the ball AFTER it has passed the top of the arch, while it’s on it’s way back down, and right before it is going to make a a second bounce. Now I realize this is a question of seconds or milliseconds, but it really will make a big difference the longer you can wait to hit the ball.
This gives you more time to see where your opponents are positioning themselves, so that you can position the ball where they are not. The ball has also slowed down considerably by the time it gets there, so you have less speed to counteract.
Lift With Your Knees
Don’t just use your arm. Bend your knees, push down into your feet and LIFT the ball using your whole body.
Don’t Swing & Hit: Play Out In Front of You
One mistake many players make is to do a large back swing before hitting the ball. Likewise, you don’t need a huge follow-through and in fact, doing so will keep you from being prepared for the next shot. Just “scoop the ball” over the net. Really, if you’re hitting a dink shot, your paddle never needs to be more than about 45° left or right of front & center.
2 Drills to Improve the Dink Shot
Hula hoops (which you can pick up at nearly any $1 store or Walmart) are one of my favorite tools for drilling, however chalk or masking tape can also be used in many cases.
To Improve Your Placement
Place the hula hoop (or tape) on the ground, toward the center of the kitchen/no-volley zone, positioned right up against the net. From the opposite side, practice hitting your dinks so that the ball drops into the hula hoop. If you are practicing alone, you can drop the ball in front of you, and hit it off the bounce. If you’re practicing with a partner, have them watch their step around the hula hoop and simply return the ball to you. (Or put a hula hoop on each side so you can both practice at once.) Shoot to get 10 in a row. Then move your body 2 feet to the right and keep practicing aiming for hula hoop. Once you can hit 10 in a row there, move back to 2 feet to the left of your original position (so a right-handed person will be hitting a backhand), and repeat the drill. After mastering these 3 positions, you can move the hula hoop about 3-4 feet left and right, and repeat all 3 positions. Eventually, you can practice cross-court dinking by having the hula hoop against the net all the way on one side of the court, while you dink from the opposite side of the court.
To Improve Control Over the Height
Using simple quick-grip clamps (or possibly zip-ties) position the hula-hoop in a vertical position parallel to and against the net, so that approximately 1/3 to half of the hula hoop is suspended above the net. Then practice hitting your dink above the net & through the hula hoop.
Once you have mastered both of these drills you can combine them by aiming the ball through the hoop on the net so it lands in the hoop on the ground.
What’s Your Experience?
So, that’s what *I* know & have to say about the dink. What’s your experience been? Was this article helpful? Please post your comments and questions below.