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Improve your dink with the cross-court dink

“Pickleball 411” is a highly successful video show on Pickleball Channel that is dedicated to providing helpful information about the sport of pickleball. But we know it is sometimes nice to read something you can turn back to when you’re not on the court. In this article, Steve Paranto invites us to his home court where he explains the massive improvements you can make to your game by using the cross‐court dink shot instead of dinking straight across to your opponent. Steve is a 5.0 player who has been significantly involved in the sport for more than 40 years. Once you read through the article, make sure you watch the full‐length video that gives you the visual tools you need to fully understand the concept of the cross‐court dink.

Steve Paranto: Dinking is a shot that you must have if you want to excel and be a 5.0 player. The dink shot is that soft shot that goes over the net and lands in the non-volley zone or the kitchen. You really have two options: You can hit to the opponent directly across from you, or you can hit cross-court or diagonal. The diagonal shot has two big advantages.

The big advantage about dinking cross-court is it allows you to have more area so you can hit the ball shorter. If you’re dinking directly across from you, you have very little space to work with. You have to hit about an 11-foot shot to hit a good dink. If I’m dinking diagonal, I can hit that 11-foot shot, or I can hit an 18-foot shot. So, a big advantage of dinking cross- court is it allows you to hit shorter balls so that your opponent doesn’t smash it back at you.

Another advantage of dinking cross-court is you have a greater margin of error on height, so you can miss a little bit. If you’re dinking directly across from you, you have to stay very low over the net. By dinking cross-court, I have about another 8 inches that I can work with. If I hit it just a little bit too high, I still have length to work with. So, if it lands in the non-volley zone, my opponent can’t smash it back at me.

Sometimes when you visually see something it makes it easier to understand, so I use a golf ball picker-upper to teach people about the length that you have when you dink cross-court. I’ve attached a pickleball at the end, and it telescopes. So now my students can visually see how much more room they have when they dink cross-court. The advantage of this visual aid is that it shows I don’t have very much length to work with if I dink directly across, whereas if I dink cross-court, that’s a great dink. I even have more space to work with. This visual aid will also show if you dink directly across too high, you’re going to get smashed. But if I dink cross-court, the ball’s going to have time to drop with the same height, so that my opponent can’t smash that shot back at me. So, work on your cross-court dink. It’s actually easier than hitting directly across from you. You’ll find that it really improves your game.

Rusty: That’s your Pickleball 411 for today. We really hope this has been helpful. Now there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s Go Play!

Rusty Howes is the Executive Producer and creator of Pickleball Channel. Rusty worked for the likes of Warner Bros. and Disney before creating Pickleball Channel to develop and provide fantastic, professional video content for the pickleball community. He is deeply involved in promoting the sport of pickleball at home and across the country.

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