Pickleball: Six Rules for the Fast Game

Pickleball Strategy 301 – Six Rules of the Fast Game

NOTE – I have introduced Jim Baker’s excellent videos in a number of my blog posts and this one is especially for average plus players because you need a good level of at-the-net skills such as dinking and volleying. There are, however, some hints for players at every level.

The term “fast game” is used in this video to denote a rally at the net that involves a quick interchange of volleys at the net which shortly results in one team winning the point.

This is what Joe Baker states:

“…If you start the fast game and you fail to defeat your opponent’s reaction time with your first shot, your chance of winning the rally is only about one in three.”

The above statement is especially true if you “poach” a shot and step into your partner’s zone leaving a big gap. If your shot does not win outright, you are most likely to leave a wide gap in the area you left to attempt that poach and your team will most likely lose the point. If you are going to poach, be sure (or at least mostly sure) that you are going to hit a winner.

If you are a 3.0 or higher rated player, this video might be of interest to you.

Did you catch Jim Baker’s “Old Rule of Thumb?” Well, if you missed it, here it is:

“If you have to hit up on the ball, hit softly, aiming to keep the ball in or near the kitchen area. If you can hit down on the ball, you may hit hard. Unless you are an advanced player, I suggest sticking to this rule.”

Another thing Jim suggests in his video is that the best players are apt to lose these fast rallies about 30% of the time. To use a baseball analogy, you would still be batting .700 So don’t be discouraged to try to implement these strategies if you have the skills!



More Pickleball Videos and Information

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©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com

Pickleball: Slow It Down

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:

There’s No Dinking in Pickleball

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)

Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)



All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017

Pickleball – Dinking: An Essential Part of the Soft Game

For those who want to move their game forward, there is probably no better skill set than learning to play the “soft game” and, like it or not, dinking is a key component!

Joe Baker is back with another excellent video tutorial, Doubles Pickleball Strategy 201 – Dinking Strategy, about this essential skill. You can view it at the bottom of this post.

Here are some notes and things to watch:

Advanced Dinking

  • Main Objective – Apply the maximum stress to your opponent’s team by making them “reach, move or scramble.”
  • Shot Placements: Sideline, Middle or Cross Court
  • Three main target areas:
  • Sideline
  • Middle
  • Cross Court (preferred especially if you can get a great, sharp angled shot and force and error)
  • Do NOT hit to the near opponent if you get drawn out of position near your sideline; especially to their forehand!
  • Do NOT hit to the same sideline twice in a row.

Defending the Dink

  • Link to your partner. i.e. move as a unit – together
  • Getting out of “trouble” involves hitting cross court and into the kitchen<
  • Use a surprise lob when you can catch your opponents off-guard
  • Try to disguise your shots:
  • Look one way and hitting the other
  • Not signaling your intention until the last possible minute
  • Wrong Foot your opponent, i.e. hitting in a direction from which your opponent was just leaving

Doubles Pickleball Strategy 201 – Dinking Strategy

This video is worth studying and watching a couple of times. There is no substitute for practice. Playing games, the experts repeatedly say, will not help improve your game as much as targeted practice.

If you haven’t seen Joe Bakers other pickleball videos, run, do not walk,to your nearest computer and view these:

Doubles Pickleball Strategy 101-How to Play Smart Pickleball, Ten Tips

Doubles Pickleball Strategy 102 – Smart Pickleball Vol. 2, Power

Pickleball: Don’t Stink at the Dink!

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.


Five Elements of Dinking

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?

Click here for Deb Harrison’s dinking video

To See More Pickleball Videos Click Here

Let’s Hear Praise for the Pickleball Bangers

The article below is being presented here with permission from the author, Mark Renneson. Mark is a 5.0 pickleball player, coach and advocate. He is the founder of Third Shot Sports which provides first-class tennis and pickleball training. He lives in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. You can reach him at mark@thirdshotsports.com

If you would like to receive the Third Shot Sports Pickleball Newsletter, click here to register.

To visit the Third Shot Sports Pickleball website, click here.

Thanks to Mark and Third Shot Sports for allowing this to be presented on JBRish.com.

In Praise of The Banger:
Why We Should Thank Hard-Hitters

By Mark Renneson

“Uh! I’m so glad I don’t have to play with those people again!”
“They don’t play proper pickleball. All they do is smash it as hard as they can!” “I see. So how badly did you beat them?”
“We lost 15-5.”

This was an actual conversation I had with a 3.5 level player in 2014. I have since heard many more complaints about “bangers” and how their style of pickleball (i.e. hit hard in an attempt to overpower the opponents) is somehow improper, less pure and less “correct” than those who look to win by dinking and using the soft game. I think it is about time to address this negative attitude toward bangers and to unpack the mistaken assumptions that underpin it.

Why Bangers Bang

Why is it that some players look to hit hard whenever possible? The answer is twofold: First, it’s relatively easy to hit hard. It takes little precision – much less than an excellent soft shot – and it is a skill that is accessible to most players. Sure, you might hit a few balls long, but overall it’s far simpler than dropping the ball gently in the first half of the kitchen. Second, players often hit hard because it works! More precisely, because it works against players of a certain level. Rarely is it the case that beginning, novice and even intermediate players have sufficient volleying skills to handle balls that are hit hard at them. Indeed, in the case of the player I referenced above, while she was reasonably proficient with her soft game, her volleying was weak. She could get medium-speed balls back but anything faster and she was in trouble. Her opponents recognized that they won points when they blasted it at her and so they kept doing it. It was smart strategy on their part and they were rewarded. Bangers bang because it gets them points. Until it doesn’t…

Why Experts Don’t Bang

When you watch the best players play, it is rare that you see them hit the third shot hard at their opponent. Why? If banging works and is easy to do, why don’t the best players use it all the time? Surely they can bang as well or better than anyone else. Instead, unlike their less-skilled counterparts, experts usually play a soft shot into the kitchen and then get into a dinking rally. Are they playing “properly”? No. Are they playing the “right” way? No. They are using soft shots as a deliberate strategy to help them win.

Experts use soft shots because they are usually playing with other experts. And as an expert, their opponents have great volleying skills. At a high level, a ball smashed hard from the back of the court will be volleyed back with ease – often for a winner. Excellent players’ volleys are too good for banging; it’s a losing strategy to try to overpower an expert from the back of the court so they don’t do it. It has nothing to do with playing a purer version of the game and has everything to do with effectiveness. If an expert believed his opponent couldn’t handle a fast ball when at the net, he would most certainly hit it hard right at him. But experts have great volleys which makes banging basically useless.

To Bang or Not To Bang?

So what should you do: Hit your third shot hard at your opponents? Avoid hitting hard in favour of third shot drops? Where do you go from here? First, I advocate for doing what works. Pickleball is a game and games have winners and losers. I encourage you play the kind of game that works for you. If hitting hard is an effective strategy at your level, go for it! Overpower your opponents and show them that their volleys aren’t good enough to handle your powerful shots. That said, if you want to be able to compete at a higher level – against better volleyers – you must also develop a competent soft game. Your current strategy won’t work forever and you should prepare for the future.

Second, I urge you to become a player who doesn’t fall victim to the banger. The woman in the story that began this piece lost to her hard-hitting opponents. It’s too bad her anger was directed at them for “not playing properly” rather than at herself for not being skilled enough to receive fast-paced shots. Had she had better volleys she would have either received their hard shots well enough to win the game, or forced them to change strategies and play the softer shots she thought more appropriate.

Why We Should Praise Bangers

Hard-hitting players do us a great service: they help us to evaluate our skills. They point out the limits of our net game and can provide motivation to get better. Rather than deriding her opponents, the woman from my story should have thanked them for highlighting the work she needed to do to get to the next level. The bangers she lost to acted as a measuring stick for her and they can do the same for all of us. If our net game cannot stand up to the fast pace of the bangers, that’s a sign that we need to get better. We should practice, take lessons from a good coach and work deliberately until our volleys are so good that our opponents can no longer overpower us. We should learn to volley so well that even the best bangers are no match for us. Until then, the next time you lose to a banger consider thanking them for the lesson.

Pickleball – Selections from the Canadian Easter Nationals EXHIBITION

Jennifer Lucore, a top ranked US Pickleballer has put together this entertaining video of “highlights” from the Canadian Easter Nationals EXHIBITION. I think you will find this brief, four minute, video very entertaining as the players on both sides are very good dinkers and have great reflexes at the NVZ. Some of this is great Pickleball!

Share this link http://wp.me/p5tVlb-HK with friends if you think they might like it as well.

Pickleball Dinking Drill with Matt and Brian Staub

Two of the nation’s best Pickleball players, Matt and Brian Staub, present a video detailing how to practice dinking. For many dinking may mean getting the ball just over the net to land short in the kitchen, but as you watch this video, notice how the Staubs hit most of their dink shots with some force to get the ball near the opponent’s kitchen line. Also take notice of how good they are at following the ball and hitting those short volley returns out of the air.

How many dinks like those they hit can you do in a row?

Quoted from the YouTube Video Notes (emphasis added):

Matt and Brian Staub practice dinking. Staying compressed is crucial during all dinking drills, this keeps you in a ready position and prevents your head from bobbing up and down which changes your eye level. This is also a great way to practice your short-hopping and blocking technique.

Pickleball: Spot Drops, Deb Harrison

SOME NOTES: The audio is a bit low in parts of this video, so listen closely and turn up the sound. Deb reviews the variety of dinks already covered in previous videos; see the elephant dink here:

Deb Harrison shows us how to get the opponent out of their comfort zone by changing the type of dinks used. One drill she demonstrates is the hot spot drill where she can go anywhere with her dinks, but her two practice partners need to keep the ball on her half of the court.

Another very important point that is reinforced is to FACE THE BALL when you can!

“Having the ability to place your pickleball dinks at different spots on the court, moving your opponent out of their comfort zone, is critically important to improving your game. Learn how to drill to hone this skill.”