Pickleball Dinking Strategies

Many players have asked me where they can find a pickleball dinking strategy guide, a resource to help them on when and where to dink. I could guess that there are pickleball teachers and writers out there that could sell you a book full of complicated scenarios with diagrams and long winded philosophy on what to do with dinking. My take is to keep it simple.

Here is one reader’s question, followed by advice from national champion players and their insights and various tips for dinking. Remember there is always different dinking strategies for the age and skill level of your opponent.


I live in Virginia and we have many pickleball players here and many 4.0 – 4.5 level tournament players. I’m frequently playing against the 4.5 rated players. We usually get into a dinking game after the 3rd shot. The problem is that once I get into this dinking game, I don’t know what to do other than to keep the ball in play.

So far, my strategy is 1) keep the ball low and in play, 2) try to avoid hitting to opponent forehands.

What I need is a strategy guide. Specifically, where should I be trying to place the ball (e.g., cross-court, down the line, to the backhand??). Should I be trying to push my opponents to the edges?  I feel like my opponents have smart strategies and that I do not.  Please help! What strategy should I be trying to employ while dinking?


Pickleball Dinking Strategies by Jennifer Lucore

First of all, your one tactic of “keep the ball in play” is excellent. Don’t think that sometimes that is not enough, it can be. You can be the consistent player that always gets the ball back and that can irritate an opponent – let them make the error. Top men’s doubles you see this a lot, the dink rallies can easily last 50+ shots (I myself might fall asleep).

Your other strategies need some work. Keeping the dink low is not always the best, and avoiding forehands is not a set rule. Every person has their unique strengths and weakness and it is up to you to figure out your opponents. Mix up your shots and see what works. Where do they make the error? And lastly, you need to get your game face on.

dinking strategies

Pickleball Dinking Strategies by Alex Hamner  (can play both under-50 and over-50 year old divisions, yes she is multi-talented)

My first reaction, of course, is to have fun dinking! This dink part of the rally – the strategy that is required – is the chess part of pickleball. I would suggest implementing the “move it around” concept of dinking. Don’t always hit it to the same person or the same area. Hit a few crosscourt, then middle, then back crosscourt then go straight across from you. Don’t be predictable, but do mix it up. Move the ball around – don’t always hit the same shot. Moving the ball around will move your opponents around as well, hopefully creating a hole for you to hit through, or causing them to make an error.

dinking strategies

Pickleball Dinking Strategies by Bob Youngren  (my dad who has been playing pickleball for over 16 years and currently 70+ age group)

– Dinking ball wide is not always the best way to go because your partner has to go wide at the same time. That opens up the middle for a put away shot.

– One of the best places to dink is middle or head-on. Why do say? A dink to the middle of the court, players can get confused as to whom should take it, and takes away their angle. Dink head-on is the hardest dink to to do, the net is higher and the court length is shorter. Most players are more comfortable dinking cross court.

– Learn to do a “roll” shot. They dink to you and it bounces fairly high….you roll back and hit the ball hard with topspin. This shot requires practice. This is an alternative to actually dinking.

The Virginia player commented that he keeps the ball low. Best dink is NOT always keeping ball low, but dink over the net about a foot above the net, and let softly fall in kitchen. Hitting the ball low increases your error factor. Hitting higher and letting it set down gently is better. Most top players do this.

dinking strategies

A birds eye approach to dinking by Matt Staub  (a stud in the 19+ age group)

My philosophy to dinking is playing the hand you’re dealt; if my opponent hits a neutral to weak dink it is more likely that I am going to attack cross court and try to pin them in a corner.  Conversely, if my opponent has hit an aggressive dink it is much easier (and safer) to short hop/ take the ball out of the air and go middle or down the line.  As a general rule of thumb the higher level you are, the more dangerous playing the middle becomes.

Here is a good video on dinks from Father Son duo – Brian and Matt Staub.

Pickleball dink drill – by Poach

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