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Mastering dinking in pickleball: Tips from pro Catherine Parenteau


By Catherine Parenteau

on May 22, 2024

Pickleball pro Catherine Parenteau stands on the left side of a pickleball court at the kitchen line. She demonstrates how to dink properly while her drilling partner stands at the kitchen line on the right side of the net.

In pickleball, players often thrive on fast-hand battles and powerful groundstrokes. However, one key to a winning match is a strong soft game. 

In a new Selkirk TV series, pickleball professional Catherine Parenteau offers valuable tips and drills to help players enhance their soft game skills. 

How to hold your paddle when dinking

The first step in executing a successful dinking pattern is to hold your paddle with a loose grip. As you are making soft shots, it’s essential to stay relaxed.

A tight grip can lead to hitting the ball too hard or too high, resulting in errors. On a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is the tightest grip, aim for a 2-3 grip.

Proper dinking technique

When dinking, the motion should originate from your shoulder. Keep your wrist firm as you push from your shoulder to make contact with the ball.

Using your wrist or elbow can cause the ball to pop up due to an upward scooping motion. By pushing from your shoulder and keeping your elbow and wrist firm, it’s easier to keep the ball low.

Proper dinking stance

Maintain your shoulders and hips square to the net. This position helps you make contact with the ball in front of your body and allows you to cover more of the court, reducing your opponent's opportunities for attack.

When moving side to side, keep square to the net and shuffle your feet laterally. Crossing your feet over each other can turn your hips away from the kitchen line, making it harder to return to your ready stance.

Drills to improve your dinking

Although drilling may not be everyone’s favorite activity, it’s the most effective way to improve your dinking. When practicing, focus on your form and note what works best. Identify any mistakes and what causes the ball to pop up.

Drill 1: Straight on dinks

  • Set up with your partner at the kitchen line on opposite sides of the net.
  • Stay on one half of the court and dink back and forth.
  • Move the ball around, aiming at your partner’s right foot, left foot, the sideline, and the middle line.

Drill 2: Forehand cross-court dinks

  • Once comfortable with straight-on dinks, have one partner move to the opposite half of the court for cross-court dinking.
  • If both are right-handed or left-handed, start with forehand dinks.
  • After each dink, return to your ready stance near the middle line with your paddle in front and your chest upright.
  • Avoid staying near the sideline to prevent exposing the middle of the court.

Drill 3: Backhand cross-court dinks

  • Switch sides of the court to practice backhand dinks.
  • Aim to hit the ball in front of your body without twisting your back to the net.
  • Challenge yourself and your partner by varying your dinks and recovering toward the middle line after each shot.

Download the Selkirk TV app HERE to watch the complete episode and many other Selkirk TV original shows, podcasts, lesson series from the pros, and much more. 

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