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 Doubles – Two People Move as One

For those who may not know, there is an interesting online resource with a good number of pickleball tips to help us brush up on our game or, for those who do not know, teach about pickleball strategy. Since most players compete as a doubles team, the strategies are aimed primarily at doubles play.

One of the suggestions I try to stress when people ask me for ideas is that a doubles team should move together during play. One of the hardest positions from which to win a point is when one partner is in back of the court while the other is up at the net. That positioning leaves a large hole in the pickleball doubles defense which a good opponent can exploit.

Here is how it is explained on the Arizona Pickleball website Playing Tips:

Move in sync with your partner.

“Imagine an invisible link that keeps you and your partner no more than about 10 ft. apart. When your partner moves to retrieve the ball, that link is like a powerful magnetic force that pulls you with him. If your partner is pulled to the sideline to play the ball, you are pulled with him to cover the middle. If that link is broken, you leave a big gap up the middle. It is very common to see players protecting their side of the court instead of moving with the ball and their partner.

In the same way that the link pulls you laterally, it should also pull you forward and back. When your partner moves up to the no-volley line, that link is pulling you along to establish a position of strength. When your partner is forced to the back court to retrieve a ball, it is much more likely that he will hit a return that can be slammed back at you. So the link should be pulling you back with him, at least part of the way, until you see what type of return that your partner is making. That link has some flexibility, but should never break completely.

Watch for those broken links on the other side of the net. That creates an opening for you to hit a winner.”

Take advantage of the Arizona Pickleball Playing Tips by visiting the page and reviewing some of suggestions offered.

Pickleball: Improve Your Doubles Game

If you read a number of hints from the Pickleball coaches and advanced players, they will often provide similar ideas about how to play a better doubles game.

  • One highlight is to “move together” so that there are no “gaps” in your offensive or defensive positions.

  • Another often stated principal is to focus on placement and not so much on power. Hitting the ball where your opponents ARE NOT is a better strategy because it tends to cut down on unforced errors such as hitting the ball out of bounds, etc.

Below is a brief video from Pickleball 411 if you want to see these concepts in action:

Pickleball 411: Three Tips to a Better Doubles Team