Dinking is an essential part of pickleball. While dinking may seem easy, anyone who has played pickleball competitively can tell you how difficult it is to consistently dink. Once you feel like you’ve got a good grasp on dinking, you can start to engage in dink battles. A dink battle consists of you and your opponent(s) strategically dinking to the other side of the net, in hope of baiting you into a mistake. From the outside looking in, a dink battle may appear boring with little excitement, but anyone who has engaged in a dink battle knows the anxiousness that they experience.
I am always on pins and needles in the middle of dink battle. I get into a mental battle of what should I do next, what my opponent will do, and how do I get out of it? I decided to explore some of the ways to get out of a dink battle. Take a look below.
This is arguably the most important aspect when it comes to a dink battle. While you may get the urge to use some of the others that I will list, using patience is typically the best way to go about it. Being patient and ok with a dink battle goes a long way. Do not be in a rush to get out of it, rushing leads to mistakes. If you’re patient, chances are that your opponent will be the one who rushes and commits the mistakes.
Patience and unforced errors often go hand-in-hand. An unforced error by your opponent is typical to come in a dink battle. If you can lock in and dink, you’re putting the pressure on your opponent to dink right back to you. Often times if you dink it back and forth enough, your opponent will commit an unforced error.
In the clip above, we see a terrific example of patience leading to an unforced error. The dink battle engages all four participants with Johns/Waters besting Newman/Parenteau. Ultimately after about a dozen of dinks, Johns reverses court, and Newman gets caught leaning and returns a dink out of bounds.
Speed It Up with a Drive
Arguably the most common way to get out of a dink battle for newcomers, speeding it up with a drive is one of the more aggressive ways to get out of a dink battle. Speeding it up with a drive changes the tempo of the point, gives your opponent less time to react but also leaves you vulnerable to receiving a potential smash in return.
In the clip above, you see a couple of examples of speeding it up during a dink battle Waters chooses to play the dink off the bounce and speed it up with a drive, the defense is able to handle the speed and return it. It’s important to note that often when you speed it up, you will leave the ball higher, giving your opponent a chance to return it with speed and power.
This is one of the more skilled ways to get out of a dink battle, in my opinion. It’s also the move I’ve been trying to add to my game for a while, but have not found the consistency. The forehand/backhand roll is often placed in the middle of your opponents and lands just at the baseline, giving the appearance of a drive, but rolling before the baseline to stay in.
Here you see a great example of a dink battle speeding up, but then resetting back to a dink battle. It then culminates with Johns shuffling across the center line and executing a forehand roll in between Newman/Parenteau landing just before the baseline.
The lob shot is something I’m seeing become more popular across the pro pickleball circuit. The lob shot is a complete change of play. Lobbing it up over your opponent forces them to back peddle and in some situations turn and run to return the shot. It moves your opponent and forces them to drive it or execute another drop, giving you the chance for a put away.
In the clip above, you see Parenteau switch it up and lob one over Waters head. Waters handles it well, but Parenteau is able to return it to Johns who leaves it a bit up and Parenteau puts it away. It’s a great change of pace and really forces your opponents out of their comfort zone at the kitchen line.
Next time you’re engaged in a dink battle, think about some of these ways and change it up from time to time. Keep your opponents on their toes and force them out of rhythm.