Selkirk Sport - We Are Pickleball


Pickleball Education | Oct 27, 2023

By Dominic Catalano

Mastering Pressure in Pickleball - Strategic Insights from Dominic Catalano on SelkirkTV

Pickleball enthusiasts often seek the secret sauce to dominating the court. Fortunately, Selkirk instructor Dominic Catalano offers invaluable wisdom in his YouTube video, "Mastering Pressure in Pickleball: How to Keep Your Opponents Off Balance." Let's dive into the key strategies and tips shared by Dominic to keep your opponents guessing and the game in your control.

Understanding 'Dinking with a Purpose'

Dominic emphasizes the tactic of 'dinking with a purpose.' This isn't just about getting the ball over the net but strategically placing it to apply pressure and provoke errors from the opponent. It's about thinking and acting a few steps ahead, especially crucial at higher levels of play.

The Kitchen Strategy

Dominic advises dividing the kitchen, or the non-volley zone, into thirds. His primary focus? The back third. Placing your dinks in this area near the opponent's feet can force them to pop the ball up, setting you up for a more aggressive shot. It's about making your opponents move and play on your terms.

Ball Control and Placement

Keeping the ball low, about six inches above the net, is critical. High balls are easily attackable, but a low dink, especially if taken out of the air, poses a greater challenge for opponents. It's about making each shot count, forcing the opponent to hit a difficult low or short hop.

Footwork and Positioning

An often underestimated aspect of pickleball is footwork. Dominic highlights the importance of stepping back to react to the ball off the bounce when under pressure. This backward movement isn't about losing your position but about controlling your shot better. After hitting, it's crucial to quickly return to your ready stance, ensuring you don't give up any tactical advantage.

Disrupting Rhythm

The final strategic pearl from Dominic revolves around breaking the opponent's rhythm. He recommends constantly changing the ball's target point - switching between forehand and backhand and avoiding hitting the same spot more than two or three times. This unpredictability keeps the opponent from settling into a comfortable pattern, disrupting their timing and strategy.

Key Takeaways

  1. Purposeful Dinking: Aim for the back third of the kitchen to pressure opponents.
  2. Low Ball Control: Keep your dinks low to make them less attackable and force errors.
  3. Smart Footwork: Use backward and forward movements for better control and to maintain an advantageous position.
  4. Rhythm Disruption: Vary your shots to prevent opponents from establishing a rhythm.


Dominic Catalano's "Mastering Pressure in Pickleball" isn't just a set of instructions; it's a strategic mindset. By focusing on purposeful dinking, precise ball control, intelligent footwork, and disrupting rhythm, players can keep their opponents perpetually off balance. Integrating these tactics into your game can be a game-changer, taking your play from reactive to strategically dominant.

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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