There are plenty of articles out there about how to hit a dink shot and how to start a dink rally, but we haven’t seen any articles on how to get out of one – until now. A dink rally occurs when competitors continuously hit soft, low, short shots (or dink shots) back and forth across the net. Essentially, they are trying to out-finesse and outlast each other. Being in a dink rally certainly isn’t a bad thing - on the contrary, many skilled pickleball players rely on their dink skills to win matches. However, recognizing an opportunity to go on offense in a dink rally is crucial, because you could potentially finish the point.
So, you find yourself in a dink rally, what do you do? First and foremost, you must focus on hitting better dink shots than your opponent. If you’ve gotten yourself into a dink rally, then you know the only way to escape it is to wait for your opponent to make a mistake. Patience is a virtue, and endurance will be key. When your opponent hits a dink shot with just a tad too much air under it, that’s your time to strike. Your opponent will also be looking for the same chance to take control of the point so you’ll have to consistently hit good dink shots to stay alive.
When the opportunity arises to go on offense, you have two solid options:
If you have a floater coming toward you in the middle of a dink rally, what better way to dominate the point than to float it right back? Hitting a lob over the head of your opponent will force them back to the baseline and put them on defense, giving you complete control of the net.
Placement of the lob is crucial: If you don’t get it deep enough, you’re setting your opponent up for the chance to hit an overhead. If your opponent has a weak backhand, aim for the back corner on their backhand side, and vice versa for the forehand side.
If you don’t trust your ability to place a lob, or if you have a wicked attacking shot, this second option may be for you. When your opponent hits a floater, aim a passing shot up either sideline. Again, you may want to aim for your opponent’s weaker side, but depending on your own position on the court it may be safer to hit down the line. For a passing shot, aim for a target halfway between the baseline and service line and one foot inside the sideline.
Just as pickleball is a game of talent and fun, it’s also a game that requires some strategy to beat your opponent. Though there isn’t a surefire way to get out of a dink rally, if you keep these tips and techniques in mind for when the opportunity arises, you could better your chances of emerging from a dink rally victorious!