Dink like an allstar
If you make it to the dinking stage of the game, then you're doing something right. But where to you go from here?
Let's get to dinking
To understand dinking, you must first understand what it truly is.
Dinking. The thing we all love to do, but sometimes love to hate.
Since you're well beyond the beginner stages of pickleball, you've probably been participating in the dinking game for quite awhile now. Or at least you've tried to.
But sometimes things don't quite work out the way we want.
Sometimes we find ourselves saying, "Wait, how did my dink come back so fast?" Or even, "What's the point of dinking if they're just going to bang it right back at me?" These are common questions, but I'm here to answer them for you. First, we need to define what dinking is.
What is dinking?
So what is dinking exactly? It's simple. A dink is a shot you use to make your opponent's next shot unattackable.
This just means that if your opponent tries to hit your shot hard, they'll either hit it into the net, or hit it out. The word "unattackable" is what you want to focus on.
That's it. That's all it means.
It sounds simple, but it's not. There are many errors that people make with dinking. Let's start with the first one.
First, stop thinking of it as a defensive shot.
One of the big strategic and mindset mistakes that I see the most often with dinking is that players tend to think of it as a defensive shot. And while it can be, the vast majority of the times it absolutely is not.
Dinking is not a defensive shot.
When it comes to strategy and tactics, dinking is a shot that you use to set up an offensive shot in the future. Just like how people make money on compound interest. The more you put in, the more you get out of it, but only at a later date! Dinking works the same way, minus the interest rates!
That is the most important element to understand about dinking.
Dinking is all about doing the hard work in the moment to reap the benefits later.
The question is, how do you do this?
Manipulate the defense
I tell my students a lot that your feet come first. If your footwork gets messed up, then everything else falls apart.
Good dinking is how you mess up the footwork of your opponent.
If you can manipulate the footwork and positioning of your opponent, then you'll eventually create a situation where you can win the point.
Always remember, dinking are unattackable shots that set up an attackable shot for yourself or your partner.
But that doesn't mean that your dinks shouldn't have pace or spin on them. We're trying to get our opponents out of position after all! Again, dinks are not defensive.
The best way to to this is to manipulate the positioning of your opponents. If you can do this, it makes that pop-up or the mistake from your opponents happen much quicker. Keep in mind that I go over more in the strategy and tactics section.
Stop targetting your opponents
One of the biggest dinking mistakes that I see is people dinking straight towards someone.
If the ball is high enough and you can hit a hard shot down towards someone's feet, then of course you should. But if your opponent is dinking well, then the last thing you want to do is dink directly at someone. Just ask yourself, are you manipulating their position or moving them around? Nope!
I understand though. It's so tempting. A person's body or feet is an easy target to hit to, but you have to start training yourself to aim for the places where they are not. This will improve your dinking enormously.
Aim for the X's
Imagine three big, red X's on the court. One near the sideline at the kitchen line, one near the center line at the kitchen line and then another one at the sideline.
When you're out drilling with someone, tape some big X's on the ground. This will help train yourself to aim where your opponent has to reach.
When your opponent has to reach for the ball, or even better, when they have to move their position, then you can dink to the other X. Drill this, and you'll see a significant improvement in your dinking.