Opposite Shots: Dink vs Overhead Smash

Two of the most important shots in pickleball are the essential dink, and the rare but mighty overhead smash. Though they’re opposites in many ways, both of these high-risk, high-reward shots are key to mastering the game of pickleball.

Let’s take a look at these two shots and how to perfect them and your game.

The Dink

WHAT IS IT
The dink is a soft shot that barely clears the net and lands in your opponent’s Non-Volley Zone.

WHY IT’S EFFECTIVE
A dink can be difficult to return, especially when it’s hit cross-court. Its slow speed helps keep it close to the net, and the closer it lands, the more awkward angle your opponent will have to hit it back to clear the net. Because it places your opponent in the Non-Volley Zone, they’ll need to wait for a bounce before returning it. If you’re lucky, it’ll make them lob it deep or set you up for a chance to put it away.

WHEN TO USE IT
The dink helps slow down the pace of play while you bide your time, waiting for your opponent to make a mistake. It’s usually returned with another dink, and helps keep your opponent on their toes when worked into a variety of other shots.

HOW TO HIT IT
Gently hit the ball with a lifting motion, just enough so it clears the net and drops on the other side.

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The Overhead Smash

WHAT IS IT
The overhead smash or overhead slam is an aggressive shot that’s hit overhand into the opponent’s court. 

WHY IT’S EFFECTIVE
When hit properly, an overhead smash can be almost impossible to return. The speed and placement can leave opponents reeling, and if they do manage to hit it, there’s a good chance it’ll be a wild shot or land out of bounds.

WHEN TO USE IT
Unfortunately, overhead smashes depend a lot on your opponent. You’ll need to wait on them to set you up with a high, hittable ball, but any time a ball is properly positioned is a great time for an overhead smash.

HOW TO HIT IT
You’ll need to position yourself under a high return or high bounce from your opponent. Extending your arm and paddle over your head, hit the ball as high as you can with a swinging motion similar to a tennis serve. Aim at your opponent’s feet or an empty part of the court for a notoriously difficult shot to return.

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Conclusion

Both shots take some skill to pull off, but once either clears the net, it can spell trouble for an unsuspecting opponent. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, these two shots are essential to a well-rounded game and should be in every player’s bag of tricks. Mix both in to your repertoire and keep the fun going.

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