How to Improve Your Dinks in Pickleball: 7 Helpful Tips

Third Shot Blog

By Third Shot Blog

Dinking is a fundamental part of pickleball. At all levels of the game, strong dinks help teams maintain control and win points at the kitchen. They’re also critical for giving your opponent’s unattackable balls.

No matter how you slice it, dinks are and will always be important in pickleball. Once you know the basics of how to hit a dink, you’re ready to hit the court. Strengthening your dinks can take your game to the next level. Here are some helpful tips to do just that.

Be patient

It is important to be patient when playing pickleball for several reasons. First and foremost, patience allows players to make better decisions on the court. By remaining patient, players can assess the situation, anticipate their opponent’s moves, and strategize accordingly. This helps in avoiding rushed shots or errors that may cost points. Additionally, being patient improves shot accuracy. Instead of hastily swinging at the ball, taking a moment to position oneself properly and time the shot increases the chances of hitting the ball cleanly and precisely.

Moreover, patience fosters better teamwork and communication with one’s partner. By staying composed during rallies, players can effectively communicate with each other and coordinate their movements, leading to more successful plays. Overall, practicing patience in pickleball not only enhances individual performance but also contributes to a more enjoyable and effective team dynamic on the court.

Move your feet

To master the art of the dink in pickleball, one key component that can often be overlooked is footwork. Many players focus solely on the paddle technique and fail to realize the importance of proper foot placement and movement. Having quick and precise footwork is crucial in order to efficiently reach wide shots, maintain balance, and execute accurate dinks.

When it comes to footwork during dinking exchanges, it’s essential to stay light on your feet. Avoid planting both feet firmly on the ground as this restricts mobility. Instead, practice taking small steps in whichever direction you need to move in order to reach the ball. By staying agile and ready to adjust your positioning at a moment’s notice, you’ll be able to react quickly and effectively respond to an opponent’s shot.

Furthermore, using diagonal steps can provide an advantage when moving around the court during dink rallies. Moving diagonally allows you to cover more ground with fewer steps compared to moving straight from side-to-side. This efficient use of footwork can give you an edge over your opponents by allowing you more time for shot selection while maintaining good positioning on the court.

A female pickleball player returns a volley of a bright yellow ball at the net on a dedicated court at a public park.

Relax your grip

One of the most common mistakes that pickleball players make when attempting dinks is gripping the paddle too tightly. While it may seem counterintuitive, relaxing your grip can actually improve your accuracy and control in this delicate shot.

When you hold the paddle too tightly, you restrict its movement and reduce your ability to finesse the ball. This leads to tense shots that often end up sailing out of bounds or hitting the net. By consciously loosening your grip, you allow for a more fluid motion in your wrist and fingers, resulting in softer shots that stay low over the net.

Finding a balance between holding the paddle securely enough to maintain control and keeping it relaxed enough for smooth dinks takes time and practice. Experiment with different levels of relaxation during your training sessions, paying attention to how it affects your shot placement and consistency. Trusting in a looser grip may feel uncomfortable at first, but with time and patience, you’ll discover better touch and finesse on those crucial dink shots.

Don’t try to hit with too much spin

When it comes to improving your dinks in pickleball, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to hit with excessive spin. Many players believe that adding spin will make their shots more difficult to return. While spin can be effective in certain situations, relying on it too heavily can actually hinder your overall game.

One reason why less spin is often better is because it allows for greater control. When you focus on hitting the ball straight and clean, you’re able to dictate where the ball goes and how fast it travels. This control gives you a strategic advantage as you can aim for specific areas of the court or exploit weaknesses in your opponent’s positioning.

Additionally, using less spin can help reduce errors and minimize mistakes. Attempts at spinning shots often require a great deal of precision and timing, which leaves more room for error. By simplifying your approach and opting for more straightforward dinks, you’ll likely find that your consistency improves and unforced errors decrease.

Dink cross-court

One of the most effective shots in pickleball is the dink cross-court. This shot requires precision and strategy, as it involves softly hitting the ball over the net to the opponent’s side, but diagonally towards their backhand corner. The objective is to force your opponent to move laterally and hit a weaker shot.

Mastering the dink cross-court can give you a significant advantage during rallies. Firstly, by aiming for your opponent’s backhand corner, you decrease their chances of using their stronger forehand shot. Secondly, this shot forces them to cover more ground, making it harder for them to set up an offensive play. Lastly, it opens up opportunities for you to take control of the kitchen or set up your next shot.

Timing and precision are key when executing a successful dink cross-court. Aim for just over the net with a soft touch on your paddle. Watch your opponent’s position closely and anticipate their movement so that you can place the ball in an area where they struggle to reach comfortably.

Hit the ball out of the air

When it comes to improving your dinks in pickleball, one key skill that can take your game to the next level is being able to hit the ball out of the air. This technique not only adds speed and power to your shots, but also allows you to keep your opponents on their toes.

To successfully hit the ball out of the air, timing and hand-eye coordination are essential. Instead of waiting for the ball to bounce, you need to be ready to attack it as soon as it reaches a height that allows for a solid strike. By doing so, you not only catch your opponents off guard but also increase your chances of winning points.

One important thing to keep in mind when attempting this technique is that accuracy is key. While hitting the ball out of the air can give you an advantage, if your shots consistently fail to clear the net, then it’s counterproductive. Practice makes perfect in this case – spend time refining your timing and aim during drills or practice matches until you feel confident in hitting consistently accurate shots.

A male pickleball player returns a volley at the net with his backhand on a dedicated court at a public park.

Move back if you need to

Oftentimes, players tend to stay in one spot after hitting a dink instead of adjusting their position according to the next shot. This can lead to getting caught off balance and struggling to reach difficult shots. So, if you find yourself in such a situation during a game, don’t hesitate to move back if you need to.

Moving back when necessary allows for better preparation for the next shot and gives you more time to react. It also helps create distance between you and the net, making it easier to execute defensive or drop shots effectively. By being ready for powerful drives or lobs from your opponents, you’ll have an improved chance of maintaining control over the point.


However, it’s crucial not to move too far back as that may put unnecessary pressure on your partner who might now be covering more ground at the front of the kitchen line. Striking a balance between staying close enough to easily hit sharp angles or soft drops while still having room for reaction time is key. Remember, effective movement is essential in pickleball and knowing when and where to adjust your position will significantly boost your overall game performance.

A female pickleball player returns a volley at the net as her partner watches the ball.

Aim at the kitchen line

A key strategy in pickleball is to aim for the kitchen line, also known as the non-volley zone. This section of the court, located just a few feet from the net on either side, is a crucial area that can make or break your game. When you aim for the kitchen line during your dinks, you force your opponents to hit difficult shots and increase your chances of gaining control of the point.

Hitting shots at or near the kitchen line puts your opponents in a defensive position. This limits their options for returning the ball and increases their chances of making an error. By targeting this specific area, you are effectively taking away their ability to attack and putting pressure on them to play defensively. Furthermore, hitting towards the kitchen line allows you to stay close to it as well, which gives you better positioning and quick reflexes when attempting volleys.

Mastering aiming at the kitchen line requires precision and practice. It’s important to focus on hitting soft shots with minimal power while still maintaining accuracy. Aim for areas near the corners of the non-volley zone where it becomes harder for opponents to return your shot effectively. Mix up your shots by using different angles and varying speeds, keeping your opponents off balance and unable to anticipate where you will place each shot. The more comfortable you become with aiming for this spot on the court, the better control you will have over rallies, ultimately increasing your chance of winning points.

In conclusion

While hitting dinks is a basic requirement for pickleball, upgrading this shot can take your game to new heights. Get out to the practice courts, try out these tips, and start hitting dinks that give your pickleball opponents fits.