What is a pickleball dink?

Learning to play pickleball.

Jaclyn Brandt



February 14, 2024

When learning to play pickleball, you will learn that the pickleball dink may be the most important concept you will learn.



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When learning to play pickleball, you will be introduced to a lot of new terms and techniques. If you remember only a few of them, the pickleball dink may be the most important.

What is a pickleball dink shot?

A dink shot in pickleball is a “soft shot hit on a bounce from the NVZ intended to arc over the net and land within the opposing NVZ either straight across or diagonally crosscourt,” according to USA Pickleball.

But what does that mean?

A dink shot is hit after a bounce in “the kitchen” area, back to your opponent’s kitchen area (otherwise known as the non-volley zone or NVZ). It is generally hit underhanded, and very softly, so that it lands in your opponent’s NVZ.

The non-volley zone, or “the kitchen”

The “kitchen” or NVZ is the area within seven feet of the net and stretching 20 feet wide from sideline to sideline, on both sides of the court. You are not allowed to hit a volley while standing in the NVZ, or if momentum from your volley takes you into the zone.

The kitchen zone includes the kitchen line at the top of the NVZ, as well as the kitchen zone sidelines.

See the full rules of when you can enter the kitchen.

How to dink in pickleball

To dink in pickleball, you will want to hit the ball in front of your body, using a lifting-up motion. You will want the face of your paddle to be open, and softly hit the ball into your opponent’s kitchen zone.

“The shot is soft and controlled with movement from the shoulder, no wrist break and minimal or no backswing to avoid overpowering the ball,” according to USA Pickleball. “Be patient. Continue to dink until the opponent makes a mistake. If the ball is hit too high, there is a good chance for a put-away shot.”

During a dink, the ball is allowed to hit the net, as long as it lands in your opponent’s zone and within or on the sidelines. The purpose of a dink is to land within the kitchen zone, including the kitchen line, but occasionally they will land behind the kitchen line.

Why is dinking so important?

Pickleball dinking is so important because it will draw your opponent close to their kitchen line, where they have the potential to fault by placing their foot on the kitchen line or into the zone during a volley. If you dink correctly, it will also force your opponent to return the ball with an underhanded shot, leaving you less vulnerable.

Dinking in pickleball

Learning how to dink in pickleball will be one of the most important skills you can learn in your pickleball journey. Dinking strategy will become an integral part of your pickleball game, so mastering the idea of the dink is a good first step to becoming the best pickleball player you can be.