Don’t you love that title? There’s no dinking in pickleball. Well the funny thing is, at both the 2017 Bainbridge Cup and the Spanish Open in Madrid, Spain several “confused” European players came up to me asking “where is all this dinking that they’ve heard they need to do?” The American’s were not always dinking which contributed to a handful of perplexed players who were wondering where the heck the soft third shot was. Well, I am here to tell you there is no “have to” third shot. Yes, many people are taught that you HAVE TO DROP YOUR THIRD SHOT – not true!
In tournament play its important to try strategies your opponent doesn’t expect or that may highlight your strength and/or their weaknesses—do what you need to win. This applies to your third shot and beyond. One must remember that the reason you are dinking is to better control the pace of the game while waiting for your opponent to hit a high dink that you can put away. Patience is a big part of the “dink” game. So if your opponent does not dink very well dinking would be a good strategy. On the other hand, if they have trouble with a hard hit ground stroke and return it high then bring on the hard shot so you can finish the point. So, if you can win by banging – then bang away! In the end, it’s more about playing to your strengths and your opponents weaknesses. That said, you still need a great third shot drop and an effective dink to compete—the question is just when to use it.
In one scenario this past weekend, a lady player from England asked me why I didn’t dink much in the finals of the Professional Pickleball Federation (PPF) Open Mixed Doubles. Great question! In that match my partner, the awesome Polish stud – Marcin Rozpedski is one of the best men’s players and he excels at hitting hard. My strength and preference is hitting hard so we went with our strengths to see what happens, adjusting as necessary. In addition, our opponents (Oliver and Irina) are good dinkers so knowing that Marcin and I both have quick reaction to their hard balls, we mostly played that strategy—as did they. In doing so, we took the finals to a third game, which we lost, but we put up a good fight against two great players.
The men’s PPF doubles finals had both a soft game – lots of dinks and hard hits, the winners were Daniel Moore and Marcin Rozpedski. The women’s PPF doubles final was hard hitting by Christine McGrath and Irina Tereschenko powering through. That was their strategy to achieve victory the quickest way possible.
So, to summarize there is NO RIGHT OR WRONG way to play pickleball when you are talking about dropping the third shot or a powerful, driving ground stroke. Again, if you are playing a hard hitter/banger and you prefer the soft game you need to absorb their speed, drop their shot in the kitchen to create a dink or soft game. Your soft game (and patience) will force them to play the game to your strength.
So, there could be no dinking in pickleball – Do what you need to do to win!
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