Originally Published: April 3, 2017 6 a.m.
In Pickleball, there is a shot in the game called “the dink.” It is the shot that makes the game unique from all other sports. Sometimes it is mistaken by the unknowing as boring and not a manly or womanly shot. That is because it is not a high impact or fast moving shot in itself, but requires patience, strategy, control, communication and finesse. You will not see it in tennis or racquetball for example.
Here is how it comes about. The ball is served, then returned. All of sudden all four players in doubles are standing seven feet from the net on each side. Then they start this strange dink game. The ball goes back and forth and bounces in the area called the kitchen, or more accurately the non-volley zone until someone makes a mistake or gets outfoxed by the opponent. Then, if the ball goes to high over the net, “pow” a hard volley scores a point!
The reason for the dink is because of the net and the area called the kitchen. You cannot step into the kitchen area and hit the ball unless it bounces in that area. The ball, if accurately sent over the net once it bounces, does not come up high enough for the opponent to reach in and smack it back. The darn net is in the way. So the ball is usually hit back over in the same manner as it was originally hit.
Most often this is done crosscourt as the net is two inches lower at the center and sending it crosscourt allows a player to keep it closer to the net and have more room for placement. The shot is no easy task and is not often seen in recreational games. It is that part of the game where the mindset has to change from aggressive, hard hitting play to careful, controlled scoop shots and a lot of quiet patience.
The partners move in concert with each other back and forth across the court to follow the ball. That is when it is essential for the partners to be in constant communication with each other.
The most common statement quietly made is “mine, mine, mine.” As my friend, gold medal winner Jim Thomas says, “less is more” meaning less aggressive play and more of using the whole body along with the arm and shoulder to carefully, gently, move the ball back and forth until someone loses nerve and hits the ball into the net or too high and “pow” a winning shot is hit.
It is one of the reasons I often have said after every single shot, get that paddle UP. You might have a chance of starting a volley challenge. Come join the fun and learn this fascinating game.
In other local Pickleball news, the new public courts are under construction at Pioneer Park. Grading is finished, net posts are in and concrete will be poured shortly. If all goes well with the weather and contractors, the grand opening for play will be Monday, May 1, if not sooner.
Finally, outdoor public courts for everyone who wants to learn and play.
Bob Atherton is the Northern Arizona Ambassador for the United States Pickleball Association and a Tier 2 coach. Reach Bob at 929-499-2498 or email@example.com.