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How to Get Your Opponent to Dink

Pickleball is a dynamic sport that thrives on a blend of power and finesse. However, what happens when you face an opponent who solely relies on powerful drives, ignoring the subtle art of dinking?

Here’s how you can encourage more dink rallies, even against those who prefer to drive the ball hard across the net.

Understanding the Power-Driven Opponent

In recreational play, it’s common to encounter players who favor hard drives and low, fast balls. Their strategy is straightforward: overpower the opposition.

While this approach can be effective in certain situations, it overlooks the nuanced tactical play that many enthusiasts believe makes pickleball truly enjoyable.

The Importance of Dinking

Dinking isn’t just about adhering to traditional play styles. It transforms the game into a mental and physical chess match. Dinks can extend rallies, test your finesse and control, and slow down the game’s pace, making it a more strategic experience.

Influencing Your Opponent’s Play Style

While you can’t force anyone to change their play style, you can influence the game through your actions. Here’s how:

Perfect Your Drop Shots

Mastering drop shots into the kitchen is a powerful way to encourage dinking. These shots, if executed correctly, compel your opponent to either dink back or risk a fault with an overly aggressive response.

Control the Pace

By slowing down your shots and reducing their power, you can control the game’s tempo. Use gentle, precise placements instead of hard drives, especially when returning serves or responding to volleys.

Use Spin to Your Advantage

Adding spin to your shots can make them more challenging to return aggressively. Backspin, in particular, can make the ball stay low, forcing a softer return.

Adjust Your Positioning

Stand closer to the net within your volley zone. This position not only makes it easier for you to respond with dinks but also pressures your opponent into a similar soft game.

Respond to Power with Softness

When faced with hard drives, try to absorb the power with soft hands. Redirect the energy of the ball with gentle paddles, dropping it neatly into the kitchen. This skill requires practice but can effectively neutralize a power player.

For more insights, check out our articles on the 3 most common mistakes when dinking and how to hit topspin dinks.

What Other Players Think About Mixing Dinks and Power Plays

When it comes to blending soft dinks with hard-hitting power plays, the pickleball community has diverse opinions. Some seasoned players advocate for dinking, noting that a well-executed dink can slow down the game, making it more strategic. Others emphasize the importance of shot placement, suggesting that precise shots can force opponents to dink back, especially if those shots are challenging to return otherwise.

However, everyone has their own style and preferred way to play. As one player mentioned, “It’s not up to you to determine how others should play and enjoy the game.” Everyone’s here to have fun, right?

For those dealing with big hitters, some advice from the court includes mastering resets to mix up the pace and not being afraid to let overly strong shots fly out. It’s about playing smart and staying cool, no matter how intense the game gets. This mix of strategies and respect for different playing styles keeps every game of pickleball fresh and exciting.

Is it Really Up to You to Dictate Shot Selection?

In pickleball, it’s not your place to dictate how your opponents choose to play their game, including their shot selection. Everyone has their own style, strategies, and preferences.

Focus on adapting to and countering your opponents’ strategies with your own skills. Encouraging a particular style of play or shot selection through your actions is one thing; expecting or insisting that others conform to your preferred way of playing is another.


Encouraging dinking in pickleball can enhance the game’s strategic depth and enjoyment. By mastering drop shots, controlling the pace, using spin, adjusting your positioning, and responding to power with softness, you can influence your opponent’s play style. Remember, while you can encourage certain play styles, it’s essential to respect each player’s unique approach to the game.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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