10 Best Pickleball Dinking Drills to Improve Your Dinking

Learning effective dink shots is one of the most essential skills to improving your pickleball game and taking your pickleball game to the next level.

If you practice these pickleball dinking drills, you’ll build your muscle memory, improve this most important shot, and take your dinking game to the next level.

Nailing your dink shot will give you a competitive edge. 

Here are some of the best pickleball drills to improve your dink shots:

Pickleball Dinking Drills

DINK SHOT DRILL #1 – Half-Court Dinking

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 1.5+
  • Skill Focus: dink shotshand-eye coordination, ball placement, soft shots
  • Drill Name: Half-Court Dinking

The Half-court Dinking Drill is a great way for pickleball players to improve their dink shot.  It’s played on half of the court at the non-volley zone line (kitchen line). One player is on one side of the net and the other player is directly across on the other side of the net. 

Practice hitting soft, controlled shots over the net into your opponent’s non-volley zone.

The ball must land in the non-volley zone.

If the ball bounces outside the non-volley zone for that half of the court – it’s out. 

This is the same idea as playing skinny singles except that you’re only dinking the ball.

DINK SHOT DRILL #2 – Cross-Court Dinks

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 1.5+
  • Skill Focus: dink shotseye-hand coordination, ball placement, soft shots
  • Drill Name: Cross-Court Dinks

The cross-court dinks drill is similar to the half-court dinking drill except that you’re playing cross-court (diagonal) which means that if the ball bounces outside the court that is diagonal to you, the ball is out.

  1. Player A stands at the non-volley line in the ready position and Player B stands on the court diagonal to Player A. 
  2. Players must hit the ball to the other side of the court and into the non-volley zone that is diagonal to their court. 
  3. When doing this drill, change the shots around to include volley shots and groundstrokes.
Cross Court Dinks

DINK SHOT DRILL #3 – Triangle Dink Drill

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 2.5+
  • Skill Focus: ball placement, ball placement variety, reaction time, lateral movements
  • Drill Name: Triangle Dinks

The triangle dink drill is one of the best drills for practicing ball placement. Each player stands at the non-volley zone on their side of the net. The idea is to keep your opponent moving around the non-volley zone by hitting the ball to three different spots, forming a triangle.

  1. The idea behind the triangle dink shot is to keep the opposing player moving and anticipating where the next shot will be hit.
  2. This drill will work for practicing forehand shots and backhand shots.
  3. Your opponent will also hit the ball to your side of the net in a triangle which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice returning the ball.
Triangle Dink Drill

DINK SHOT DRILL #4 – Figure 8 Dinks

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 2.0+
  • Skill Focus: direction of dinks, crosscourt dinks, straight-away dinks
  • Drill Name: Figure 8 Dinks
  1. The figure 8 dink drill is a great drill for practicing ball control and ball placement. 
  2. And is one of the best ways for a pickleball player to improve their dinking skills and overall pickleball skills.
  3. It’s played on the entire pickleball court.
  4. One player focuses on only hitting the ball cross-court.
  5. And the other player focuses on hitting straight-away dinks.
  6. Player 1 stands cross-court from Player  2.
  7. Player 1: Hits the ball over the net into the non-volley zone of the court directly opposite.
  8. Player 2: Hits the ball cross-court over the net into the non-volley zone. 

DINK SHOT DRILL #5 – Forehand, Backhand Dinks

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 2.0+
  • Skill Focus: backhand dinks, forehand dinks
  • Drill Name: Forehand, backhand dinks

With the forehand and backhand dink shot drill, both players stand at the non-volley zone on their side of the net. One player practices their forehand shot and the other player practices their backhand shot. The player practicing their forehand shot will hit the ball to the other player’s backhand. 

DINK SHOT DRILL #6A – Crosscourt Forehand and Backhand Dinks

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 2.0+
  • Skill Focus: backhand dinks, forehand dinks
  • Drill Name: Crosscourt Forehand and Backhand Dinks

With the crosscourt forehand and backhand dinks drill, players stand at the non-volley zone that is diagonal to each other. One player practices their forehand shot and the other player practices their backhand shot. The player practicing their forehand shot will hit the ball to the other player’s backhand. 

DINK SHOT DRILL #7B – Alternating Forehand and Backhand Dinks

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 2.0+
  • Skill Focus: backhand dinking, forehand dinking
  • Drill Name: Alternating Forehand and Backhand Dinks

This drill is similar to the previous drill except that both players alternate between hitting with a forehand shot and hitting with a backhand shot.

With the alternating forehand and backhand dinks drill, players stand at the non-volley zone that is diagonal to each other. Each player alternates hitting a forehand and backhand shot. One player hits with their forehand shot to the other player’s backhand. And then they alternate shots.

Dinking Drills For Beginners

DINK SHOT DRILL #8 – Guard the Non-Volley Zone Line

  • Number of Players: 2 or 4
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: non-volley zone line awareness
  • Drill Name: Alternating Forehand and Backhand Dinks
  1. Measure 18 inches from the non-volley zone line (NVZ line). 
  2. Put cones or markers that run horizontally to the kitchen line.
  3. Practice your dinking game by standing inside the 18 inches between the kitchen line and the new temporary line.
  4. These cones collapse making them safer for this drill and other drills.

DINK SHOT DRILL #9 – Toss the ball

  • Number of Players: 2 or 4
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus:  Practice dinks
  • Drill Name: Toss the Ball
  1. Stand with both feet an inch or two behind the non-volley zone line.
  2. Use an underhand throw and toss the pickleball ball over the net into the non-volley zone on the other side of the net.
  3. This simple drill gives beginner players a feel for how to gently place the pickleball ball over the net so that it lands in the non-volley zone. 
  4. The motion of an underhand toss of the ball is similar to a dink shot. 

DINK SHOT DRILL #10 – Target Practice

  • Number of Players: 2 or 4
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus:  Practice dinks, ball placement
  • Drill Name: Target Practice
  1. Use tape to make a few targets in the non-volley zone. 
  2. Practice hitting dink shots onto the targets. 
  3. The goal of this drill is to hit the target every time you dink it over the net.
  4. This drill is a great way for any pickleball player to improve their dink shots.

What Is Dinking

Dinking in pickleball is when a soft shot is hit from the NVZ line over the net and lands in the opponent’s non-volley zone. 

Dink rallies happen when both teams maintain their position at the NVZ line while softly hitting the ball over the net until a pickleball player makes an error.

The most effective dink shot is one that arcs downward just over the net, making it more difficult to return the ball.

Benefits of Dinking

Strategic Gains

You’ll often hear pickleball players say “a pickleball game is won at the non-volley zone”.

That’s what makes this game so interesting and different than other racket sports.

Players who learn how to strategically place a ball while playing close to the net will inevitably earn more points. 

If you can learn how to strategically dink, with a volley or groundstroke, you can outsmart your opponent.

Take Control

If you can take control of a dinking game, you will find yourself ahead of your opponent.

Maybe you’re playing someone who prefers to hit hard – even smash the ball. 

Many tennis players turned pickleball players think hitting hard is the norm. This can help them win the game or at least earn points.

But, they can’t can’t smash the ball if you’re forcing the game to be played at the non-volley zone.

Dinking Strategies

1. Understand the Purpose of Dinking

Dinking is a strategy used to keep the ball in play and tire out your opponents. It is a soft shot that is hit just over the net and lands in the non-volley zone. The purpose of dinking is to force your opponents to lose patience or focus and make an error.

2. Master the Basic Technique

To execute a successful dink shot, you need to have a proper grip, stance, and swing. Hold the paddle with a continental grip and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent and your weight on the balls of your feet. Get under the ball as you lift it up with your paddle to gently lob it over the net into the non-volley zone. 

3. Practice Consistently

Dinking is a skill that requires practice to master. Set aside time to practice your dinking technique each time you play pickleball. Start with slow, controlled shots and gradually increase the speed and intensity. 

4. Mix Up Your Shots

To keep your opponents guessing, it’s important to mix up your dink shots. Vary the speed, angle, and placement of your shots to keep your opponents off balance. Hit some straight shots, cross-court shots and aim to place the ball in different parts of the non-volley zone.  

5. Watch Your Opponents

Pay attention to your opponents’ positioning and movement. Learn how to place the ball in a part of the non-volley zone that is more difficult for them to get to or more difficult for them to hit the ball. As an example, if they have a weaker backhand, hit the ball so that it lands in a spot that forces them to use their backhand. Or, aim the ball so that it lands near or on the center line. A lot of the time, players won’t know who’s going to hit the ball and causes some confusion.

6. Use the Wind to Your Advantage

If there is a strong wind, use it to your advantage when dinking. Hit your shots into the wind to slow them down and make them more difficult to return. 

7. Be Patient

Dinking is a slow, strategic game. Don’t rush your shots or try to hit winners too soon. Be patient and wait for the right opportunity to attack. 

8. Communicate with Your Partner

If you are playing doubles, communication with your partner is key. Let them know where you are hitting your shots and where you want them to be. 

9. Practice Defense

Dinking is not just about offense. You also need to be able to defend against your opponents’ dink shots. Practice your footwork and positioning to be ready for any shot that comes