In my last pickleball post, I included a link to an article which explained that there doesn’t necessarily have to be dinking in any given pickleball game. If you missed that essay, you can catch it at this link:
Below is a short video explaining the opposite view, i.e. why you need to use the slow game (which includes dinking).
Top 3 Reasons You Should Slow The Game Down | Pickleball Quick Tip
If you are convinced that this is something you would like to learn, Deb Harrison explains the general technique in the video below. At one point, she was a proponent of what she referred to as the “elephant dink.” She has since revised her thinking and is now a proponent of a slightly different dinking style.
Here is a video explaining her revised, new technique for hitting the dink.
NOTE – One of the key points she makes is to ALWAYS FACE THE BALL. This is good advice for all shots as champion Sarah Ansboury advocates.
If you would like to improve your soft/slow pickleball skills, here are three videos by 5.0 player Jordan Briones to help you practice dinking.
Pickleball Dink Drill | Straight On Dinks
Pickleball Dink Drill | Forehand Dinks
Pickleball Dink Drill | Backhand Dink
I hope you have found these helpful and that you are inspired to try to improve your dinking!
More Pickleball Videos
To See additional Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)
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As more advanced players know, the third shot drop shot can be a powerful weapon. On the downside, it is a high risk-high reward shot for many casual players.
What to do in the following scenario:
Your team serves the ball high and deep. The other team now returns a nice deep shot and both the players are near the kitchen (NVZ). The opponents both have good volley skills and are waiting for your next shot…
A – You can try to over power them by hitting the ball hard to one of the weaker spots, i.e. backhand which is not that easy since the margin of error is narrow.
B – You can lob the ball to try to move at least one player off of the kitchen line, but this too takes a bit of touch; too short and it gets whacked, too long and it is out.
C – Third shot drop shot. Get the ball over the net into the middle of the NVZ and move the game to the net where it would then become a “touch” game. Once again, high risk-high reward. Too long and the ball is smashed back at you; too short and it goes into the net.
When playing against skilled pickleballers, the choices may all seem difficult. Why not work on that third shot which may be the best opportunity in the above scenario?
To make it even more of a problem, the Third Shot technique is a bit different from various places on the court. It is a “touch” shot and the paddle position, pace, etc. needs to be altered as the ball is hit either longer or shorter onto your side of the court.
Deb Harrison demonstrates how to practice the Third Shot Drop from various positions on the court. I know this is one area I need to practice quite a bit. I am decent near the NVZ, but pretty bad when it comes to executing the desired third shot from the baseline.
From the YouTube synopsis:
Published on Oct 1, 2016
“This video emphasizes the need for players to develop the ability to execute a 3rd shot drop from various types of balls into the NVZ (No Volley Zone) from all areas on the court. Drills to practice dropping short hop and long hop balls are shown. The key is, depending on the type of hop, opening the paddle to the right angle UNDER the ball and using the pace to determine how much forward motion is needed. Remember that the net is your first opponent and MOST importantly, your drop HAS to go over the net. There is a lot of “feel or touch” to the execution of these skills, so more practice = more success!”
To See Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)
After playing pickleball for a while, one generally learns to control the ball by being able to place it in a certain area of the opponent’s court. As time progresses some players develop more precision with their placement, but knowing generally how to get the ball within a certain area is a big step in advancing your game.
In this episode, Deb Harrison adds variation to placement by demonstrating how to redirect a shot and sometimes surprising the players on the opposite side of the net. There might be times when the shot so surprises them, that it delays their reaction and helps to win the point.
Pay particular attention to the angle spins demonstrated in the video. They can be devastating to your pickleball opponent.
To See Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game, especially helpful Click Here
As I watch many of my colleagues play pickleball and a volley develops where the ball goes back and forth several times, it sometimes looks like a pool party where everyone in the pool is just trying to keep the ball from hitting the water. Players are simply patty-caking the ball back and forth. Joe Baker refers to this phenomenon in one of his videos.
If a ball is going back and forth at a moderate pace, that is an ideal time to step forward and “bang” the ball so it is harder to return.
Deb Harrison’s latest video, “Be a Better Banger,” may help you improve your power hitting technique.
There are a number of pickleballers who don’t like the soft game. They do everything they can to avoid it. Unfortunately, as most experts will point out, it is hard to achieve pickleball excellence without a good soft game, i.e. the dink.
This brief video explains all of the elements of a good dinking game. Watch the video to improve your dinking skills.
As quoted from the YouTube video:
Do you know one of the secrets to taking your game to the next level? It’s mastering the soft game using the dink! Many players love to smash the ball hard, but everyone knows top players use dinking to control the game and ultimately win. In this episode of Pickleball 411, we are fortunate enough to hear from pickleball ambassador Tom Early from Canton, Georgia as he demonstrates a key reason why you must have the dink as part of your game plus five steps to get started! [emphasis is mine ]
If you think dinking isn’t a serious aspect of the sport, you can watch Deb Harrison explain her “all day dink” technique. If so many people are talking about it, it must be important; right? I mean after all…Can millions of Elvis fans be wrong?
After playing pickleball for just a short while, an attentive player will learn that it is better to control the net, i.e. be at the net ready to volley a ball that is hit rather than staying back and volleying from the baseline.
The question then arises: When is the best time for the serving team to head toward the net? It isn’t necessarily wise to run to the net as soon as possible.
Mark Renneson of Third Shot Sports, has created a video to demonstrate how to “earn” the net.
You can also see Deb Harrison’s take on this situation by watching this previous JBRish post:
When I first began to play Pickleball a year ago or so, one of the points that was emphasized to me over and over again was to get up to the net. Some proclaimed this edict with a near religious fervor. I watched those around me and they were running helter-skelter to the net as soon as they could.
After a while, I realized this isn’t always the best strategy. As Deb Harrison remarks in the video below and as others who coach have noted, you have to “earn the net.” By this they mean that you need to make a good shot in order to approach or work your way into the net.
You can’t return a serve midway into the opponent’s court directly to their powerful forehand and expect to have an advantage while running to the net. In many cases, the ball will get to you before you are ready, or it will go flying by you at a fast clip.
To win consistently, you must make an “approach” shot. That is, a drop volley or angled shot that causes the player go make a weak return, etc. which facilitates an approach to the net without the odds of an even better shot coming back at you.
Now that I have realized this, I am a bit more selective when working my way to the net with my partners and it has paid off.
Watch Deb Harrison as she demonstrates the best ways to “earn the net.”
Pickleball: Earning the Net, Deb Harrison
Do you think “earning the net” will help your game? Are you purposeful in using this strategy? Leave a comment below!
Many of the essays, articles, books addressing the Pickleball serve will advise players to hit the ball high and deep and sometimes the word SLOW is used in conjunction with the advisory. The idea is twofold:
1) Keep the opposing team away from the net and
2) Make them supply the pace (power) behind any return shot
The two elements above may help the serving team get to the net as quickly as possible and it is true that the idea is to gain control of the net. All else being equal, the team “controlling” the net should win most of the points.
The popularity of Pickleball is soaring and more and more young people are finding their way to the Pickleball courts. This is great for the game. With their athleticism and speed, the serve is taking on more importance as a factor in the game.
Tennis and Pickleball Coach Mark Rennseson, with more than eighteen years experience, agrees with The Pickleball Show host Chris Allen that, once again, all things being equal, the team serving the ball only has a forty percent chance of winning the point. The receiving team has a 60-40 chance of winning the serve so why not try to change those odds?
Mark also suggests that since the serve is the only time you have complete control of the ball and where it is going to go, you should take advantage of it by doing more with the ball than “just getting it in play.” He doesn’t believe serving high and deep is the way to go for everyone.
Coach Rennseson encourages the more adventurous and perhaps intermediate to advanced players, to take more of a chance to gain the advantage. By varying the type of serve, the receiver’s potential for hitting a weaker return increases thus enabling the serving team to gain the upper hand. The issue of missing the serve a couple of times a game might not be that bad if the server(s) can cause the receiving team to make enough errors.
You can listen to this discussion via the podcast of The Pickleball Show, episode 7, starting at 13:19 into the show.
As a matter of fact, the Pickleball video (below), Pickleball 411: Three Serves and Why You Need Them, provides an explanation of what the three types of serves are and reasons for using them. NOTE: This is not an instructional video of “HOW” to execute these shots, but an explanation why you might want to use them.
“In this episode (above) of Pickleball 411, our host, Rusty Howes, is joined by Jennifer Lucore, Alex Hamner and Bob Youngren who demonstrate the different serves they use and explain when and why they use them. We hope this detailed episode will help all of you take your pickleball game to the next level!”
Deb Harrison also agrees that having “the ball in your hand” on the serve warrants doing more than just getting it in. You can listen to her explanation of what to do with the serve at 13:02 minutes in to The Pickleball Show podcast 11.
If you are just starting out playing Pickleball and you are playing with beginning to average players, keep the serve high and deep.
If you are playing among intermediate to more advanced players, i.e. 3.5-5.0, you might want to try to do more with the serve. Varying the serve keeps the opponents guessing and may cause an instant of hesitation in a very fast game. In Pickleball, fractions of seconds can make the difference.
High and Deep Serve can be used at any level and is used for a change of pace.
The Power Serve – This serve is low, deep and hard. This serve is varied by changing location. Right, left or in the middle of the appropriate service court. Of course, one needs to practice to be able to get this serve in consistently.
Soft Angle Serve – Once again, keeps the opponents guessing and, when done right, can force them to the outside of the court leaving a lane down which one can hit the ball.
What is your philosophy about the Pickleball serve? Have the above points changed your approach to the Pickleball serve?
I have been playing PB for only a year +/- and one of my issues has been the number of balls I hit into the net when I am at the non volley zone line. I think this tip from Deb Harrison might be of some help to me. If you have the same issue, perhaps this will be one way of reducing those errors!
“This pickleball instructional video builds on one of our most popular episodes, the swing volley. Today we add snap to the swing volley, to pound the ball down at our opponents’ feet.”