What is a dink? A drink is a soft shot hit on a bounce from the non-volley zone (NVZ) intended to arc over the net and land within the opposing NVZ either straight across or diagonally cross court. Ideally, you want your dink to arc downward as it crosses the net, which will force your opponent to hit upwards. Dinks that land close to the net are the most difficult to return because of the steep angle required to get the ball over the net. Cross court dinks are easier because the net is lower in the center. However, you can also create opportunities with cross court dinks by forcing your opponents off the court, potentially opening a hole that can be exploited. It is important to learn how to dink properly because dinks are foundational for plays and point construction.
In the video below, Mark Renneson with Third Shot Sports demonstrates proper dink techniques. Mark Renneson is a professional pickleball coach who lives in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. He travels across North America delivering pickleball clinics and private lessons to players of all ages, skill and abilities.
You can use an open stance or a neutral stance when dinking. Remember to contact the ball in front of your body with an open paddle face, using a gentle lifting motion. For greater consistency, lift using your legs rather than swinging your arms. The shot is soft and controlled with movement from the shoulder, no wrist break. There should be minimal or no backswing to avoid overpowering the ball.
It is important to learn this shot and practice it regularly in order to limit pop-ups or high balls that will be easy for your opponents to put away. The ability to sustain longer dink rallies is generally the difference between a 3.0 and 3.5 skill level player. You can learn more about skill levels here.