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Monday, November 20, 2017

Backhand Dink Drill

Make drills fun...

This post continues the Jordan Briones series of drills. As I have mentioned, he does something I like very much. He makes drills a game. This makes what otherwise can be a task into a fun exercise, meaning we all are more likely to do it. 

The third video covers backhand dinks - those dinks where a player hits cross court to the player diagonally across the net. This is done just like the forehand dink drill, but this time from the backhand side. The players position themselves at the NVZ line in their respective left courts and use the entire width of the court for this drilling "game".

One player starts the drill by feeding it to his opponent and then each player attempts to win a point by out-dinking the other. The game is won when a player scores 5 points. Jordan stresses the need for scorekeeping because it increases focus and the need to play high-percentage pickleball. Since this is a cross court game, most shots should be targeted toward the sideline as shown below. But an occasional dink to the middle should be mixed in to keep players honest.

As with the straight on dink game, one point of emphasis is the need to stay close to the NVZ line. This allows players to take the ball in the air as a volley, giving the opponent less time to react.

A variation of the game that can be used after a couple of 5-point dink games is the addition of hard drives and volleys as well as lobs.

Again, I would ask that you watch the techniques of these players rather than just the drill parameters. After all, the purpose of drilling is to get better by reinforcing the proper technique. One technique I recently wrote about (in Fix Your Back Pain...and Your Game) is bending at the knee and lowering your butt to get low balls. Do not bend at the waist! 

Another technique to watch is the length of the swing on a dink. A dink is not usually a "bunt" where the paddle stops. Instead, a dink is a full motion, though a small one. It starts with the paddle behind the ball and there is a follow-through past the ball. Since this is a longer shot than the straight on dink, the swing becomes even longer.

A third technique to watch is the arc of the dink and how it is created. Most dinks are hit such that they will safely clear the net - 6"-12" above the net. The players do this by lifting the ball with an open paddle face, meaning the paddle is not parallel to the net but facing upward to some degree. The longer distance of this dink provides a bigger margin for error and fewer errors should be made.

Finally, watch the footwork. Players keep their feet moving and always get into position to make a comfortable swing. The longer distance provides more time to react. Take advantage of it.

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