Dinking: The Strategy and Skill Behind Soft Pickleball Play

Pickleball enthusiasts know that the game isn’t always about sheer force and hitting the ball as hard as they can. Sometimes, the soft touch of a dink can command the court more than the most powerful overhead smash. It’s ultimately about the finesse and the strategy behind the sport that often calls the tune of victory. So grab your paddle (and maybe a neat pickleball towel to dab that sweat), and let’s talk dinking.

Pickleball Basics

Before we get into pickleball dinking, let’s go over some other necessary pickleball knowledge to make sure you’ve got the basics down pat.

Court Dimensions

Pickleball courts are 20 feet wide and 44 feet long—this is roughly the same size as a doubles badminton court. The court is divided into two equal halves by a net positioned 36 inches high at the center.


Pickleball is played with a paddle, similar in shape to a table tennis paddle but larger. The ball used is perforated and resembles a wiffle ball. Paddles come in different materials (including composite, wood, and graphite) and offer different power and control levels.


The game begins with one player serving diagonally across the net to the opponent’s service court. In doubles play, each player on the serving team gets a chance to serve the pickleball before the opposing team takes their turn. The serve must be underhand and made below waist level.


Pickleball typically uses a rally scoring system. This means a point is scored on every rally, regardless of which team serves. Points can only be scored by the serving pickleball team. The winners will be the first pickleball team to reach 11 points with a lead of at least two points.

Non-Volley Zone

The non-volley zone, which players call “the kitchen,” is a seven-foot area on either side of the net. Players cannot volley (hitting the ball without letting it bounce) while standing inside the kitchen unless it bounces first. This rule encourages more strategic shots, such as dinking.

Double Bounce Rule

In pickleball, a fun and fast-paced game, there is a double-bounce rule. This means that before teams can start volleying, they must allow the ball to bounce once on their side and once on the opponent’s side. This particular rule adds an exciting element of strategy and anticipation to the game as pickleball players strategically position themselves to make the most of each bounce.

Pickleball Faults

Common faults in pickleball include:

  • Stepping into the non-volley zone and volleying the pickleball.
  • Not letting the pickleball bounce before hitting it.
  • Serving out of turn.
  • Serving into the net.

Doubles and Singles Play

Pickleball can be played in both doubles and singles formats. In doubles, each pickleball team consists of two players; in singles, it’s one player against another.


While dinking is a key strategy (and we’re just about to get to it!), pickleball also involves various other techniques, such as groundstrokes, volleys, lobs, and smashes, depending on the situation and your position on the court. Understanding court positioning, shot placement, and teamwork is a must for success.

These are some of the fundamental aspects of pickleball that lay the foundation for the sport. As previously discussed, dinking is one of the nuanced techniques used in pickleball to gain an advantage during a game, especially in doubles play near the non-volley zone.

What is Dinking in Pickleball?

Dinking involves hitting a soft, controlled shot over the net that lands close to the opponent’s non-volley zone, making it difficult for them to return. This technique requires patience, precision, and finesse.

Dinking Strategies

You can use various dinking strategies in pickleball, depending on your position on the court and your opponent’s positioning.

Some of these strategies include:

  • Crosscourt Dinks: These shots aim to land diagonally across the court, making reaching and returning difficult for your opponent.
  • Low Dinks: These are shots hit close to the net, forcing your opponent to bend down low to attempt a return. This can be particularly effective against taller opponents or those with less mobility.
  • Angle Dinks: These shots aim to land on the sideline, creating a sharp angle that your opponent may struggle to reach and return.
  • Soft Dinks: As the name suggests, these shots are hit with a softer touch, making it tougher for your opponent to handle and control the ball. This can be especially convenient in windy conditions or on a bouncy court surface.

Teamwork and Dinking

Dinking is not only about individual skill but also requires effective teamwork in doubles play. Communication with your partner is key to successfully executing dinks and gaining an advantage over your opponents.

Some important strategies for working together in dinking include:

  • Stacking: This involves positioning yourself and your partner at the net in a way that creates an overlap, making it harder for your opponents to cover both sides of the court.
  • Switching: If you and your partner are out of position or one of you has a stronger dinking shot, switching positions can help confuse your opponents and open up new opportunities for winning shots.
  • Feinting: This involves pretending to hit a dink shot but instead hitting a different shot that catches your opponents off guard. This can be particularly effective if you and your partner are skilled at coordinating feints.
  • Covering the Middle: The middle of the court is often overlooked in doubles play, making it an awesome opportunity for quick dinks or surprise shots. Communication with your partner is encouraged to ensure the middle is covered and left vulnerable for your opponents.

Teamwork in dinking also involves understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and knowing when to take charge or support your partner during a point. Practice and communication are vital to developing effective teamwork in dinking.

In Closing: Shop Pickleball Gear and Get Playing

Now that you know more about dinking in pickleball, it’s time to talk about making sure you have the appropriate accessories so you can play your best game! The Pickled Palm is the place to shop for such accessories, with their pickleball paddles, balls, and apparel selection. Browse their online store today to find exactly what you’re looking for.

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