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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Basic Dink Technique

The dinking phase of a rally can easily represent well over 50% of the play. That statistic should reinforce the need for players to understand both how to dink and how to use the dink. The shot is so important that I will have a dinking clinic next week, my first clinic devoted to a single shot. As preparation for both me and attendees, there will be a series of posts over the next several days on dinking. Today, we will start with technique.

Since dinking is so important, we certainly have not ignored it until now. Previous posts about technique include It Should be Called Dinkball and Basic Dink -- Consistency. I recommend a review of those posts because very little will be repeated here. Instead, we will start with a Mark Renneson video called Pickleball Dink Technique.

Mark is clear in his description of his technique and I won't spend any time illustrating it beyond the video. It is not identical to the techniques described by Sarah Ansboury in her video included in Basic Dink -- Consistency, but is similar enough that no additional comments are needed. I will only repeat a description of the basic technique used by both.

As I posted in It Should be Called Dinkball, "The technique of the dink shot is a simple one that can be mastered by anyone with practice. First, directly face the shot coming towards you. Bend at your knees and waist like you are sitting in a chair and open your paddle to the ball. Keep your paddle and arm out in front of you. Then, lift the ball with your entire arm. Do NOT use your wrist to flick the ball."

Beyond that, there is one point I would like emphasize from both Mark's and Sarah's videos, particularly with Mark's technique. The dink is not just a tap of the ball, especially when a player is positioned near the kitchen line. It is more akin to a full stroke. The paddle starts well below/behind the ball and continues with a follow through after striking the ball. In other words, hitting a dink requires no less commitment to the stroke than any other shot from anywhere on the court. If there is a single reason for a beginning player to have a poor dink, this is it. They want to allow the paddle alone to do the work without making the effort to get their body low and follow through with their legs and arm. Then, when they recognize that their shots are too weak, they compensate with wrist flicks that tend to pop the ball up.

My experience has been that successfully transitioning to a competent dinker required 1) firmly gripping the paddle while holding it parallel to the floor or pointing upward, 2) hitting the ball with full commitment to making the shot, and 3) lots of practice that develops the muscle memory to know the power needed to hit the target.

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