Learn When to Dink Drive or Lob Take Your Game to Next Level

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on advanced shot selection in the game of pickleball. As seasoned players and experts in the field, we understand the importance of making the right shot decisions during a game. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of shot selection, focusing specifically on when to dink, drive, or lob. By mastering these techniques and understanding when to employ them strategically, you’ll be able to take your pickleball game to the next level.

Dink Drive or Lob

1. The Dink Shot

The dink shot is a finesse shot played close to the net, typically with minimal backswing and a gentle touch. It involves delicately dropping the ball over the net and keeping it low, making it challenging for your opponent to return. The dink shot is an excellent option when you’re looking to slow down the pace of the game, maintain control, and force your opponent into making errors.

1.1 When to Dink

The dink shot can be effectively employed in various game situations. Let’s explore when it’s most advantageous to use this technique:

In the Kitchen: The dink shot is commonly used when the ball is in the non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen. Since volleys are not allowed in this zone, executing a well-placed dink shot can put your opponent in a difficult position, forcing them to hit a difficult shot from a restricted area.

Against Hard Hitters: When facing opponents who rely on powerful drives, the dink shot can be highly effective. By introducing a change of pace, you can disrupt their rhythm and force them to adjust their shots, potentially leading to errors.

1.2 Technique Tips

To execute a successful dink shot, consider the following technique tips:

Soft Touch: Use a soft grip and gentle touch to create the necessary finesse for a successful dink shot. The key is to minimize the backswing and generate just enough power to clear the net and land softly in the opponent’s court.

Controlled Placement: Aim to direct your dink shot towards the sidelines, putting additional pressure on your opponent and reducing their shot options. Placing the shot close to the net can also limit the angles your opponent can utilize.

2. The Drive Shot

The drive shot is a more aggressive and powerful shot, commonly employed to gain an offensive advantage over your opponents. It involves striking the ball with speed and pace, aiming to hit winners or put your opponents on the defensive.

2.1 When to Drive

The drive shot can be a game-changer when used strategically. Let’s explore when it’s most advantageous to utilize this technique:

When on the Offensive: If you find yourself in a favorable position on the court, such as receiving a weak return or anticipating a high ball, the drive shot can be a formidable weapon. It allows you to take control of the point and put pressure on your opponents.

Against Defensive Players: When facing opponents who prefer a defensive style of play, using drive shots can help you break through their defensive walls. The power and pace of the shot can force them out of position and create openings for winners.

2.2 Technique Tips

To execute a powerful and accurate drive shot, consider the following technique tips:

Weight Transfer: Ensure a solid foundation by transferring your weight from the back foot to the front foot during the shot. This will help generate power and provide stability for an accurate drive shot.

Full Swing: Unlike the dink shot, the drive shot requires a more substantial backswing to generate power. Maintain a smooth and controlled swing, making contact with the ball at

the optimal point to maximize power and accuracy.


3. The Lob Shot

The lob shot is a strategic choice used to create distance between you and your opponents. It involves hitting the ball high into the air, aiming to clear your opponents and force them to retreat towards the back of the court. The lob shot can be a valuable tool when you’re under pressure or when you want to change the dynamics of the game.

3.1 When to Lob

Knowing when to employ the lob shot can give you a significant advantage in certain game situations. Let’s explore when it’s most advantageous to utilize this technique:

Defensive Strategy: When you find yourself out of position or in a defensive situation, the lob shot can buy you some time to recover and regain control of the point. By forcing your opponents to retreat, you create an opportunity to regain your footing and reset the rally.

Against Aggressive Net Players: If your opponents frequently rush the net, employing a well-executed lob shot can catch them off guard. This shot will require them to retreat and reposition themselves, potentially giving you an opening to hit a winning shot.

3.2 Technique Tips

To execute a successful lob shot, consider the following technique tips:

High and Deep: The key to a successful lob shot is to hit the ball high and deep into your opponent’s court. Aim for the baseline, making it challenging for your opponents to attack the ball or hit winners from an unfavorable position.

Timing and Accuracy: Timing is crucial when executing a lob shot. Ensure you have enough time to position yourself correctly and make clean contact with the ball. Accuracy is equally important, so practice hitting consistent and well-placed lob shots.


Q1: How do I determine which shot to use in a given situation?
A: Shot selection depends on various factors, such as the position of the ball, your position on the court, your opponent’s playing style, and the current score. Assess the situation and consider the strengths and weaknesses of each shot option before making a decision.

Q2: Can I use a combination of shots in a single rally?
A: Absolutely! In fact, using a combination of shots can keep your opponents off balance and make it more challenging for them to anticipate your next move. For example, you can start with a dink shot to slow down the pace and then follow up with a drive shot to seize an offensive advantage.

Q3: What if I’m not confident in my ability to execute a particular shot?
A: It’s important to practice and develop your skills in all shot types. However, if you’re not confident in executing a particular shot during a game, it’s better to stick to shots you are comfortable with. As you gain more experience and practice, you can gradually incorporate new shots into your repertoire.

Q4: Can shot selection vary based on the type of pickleball game being played?
A: Yes, shot selection can vary based on the type of game being played. In singles play, you may have more opportunities for aggressive shots like drives, while in doubles play, strategic dinks and lobs may be more common due to the increased presence at the net.

Q5: Are there any specific drills or practice routines to improve shot selection skills?
A: Yes, there are drills and practice routines that can help you improve your shot selection skills. For example, you can set up specific scenarios during practice sessions and focus on selecting the appropriate shots for each situation. Work on your decision-making abilities and observe the outcomes of different shot choices.

Q6: Can shot selection be influenced by the playing surface or weather conditions?
A: Yes, playing surface and weather conditions can impact shot selection. For instance, on a windy day, using lobs may be more challenging due to the unpredictable nature of the wind. Similarly, different court surfaces may affect the bounce and speed of the ball, which can influence the effectiveness of certain shots.

Remember, shot selection is a skill that develops over time through practice, experience, and a deep understanding of the game. Continuously analyze your performance, learn from each game, and adapt your shot selection strategy accordingly to become a well-rounded and successful pickleball player.


Mastering advanced shot selection in pickleball is an essential skill for any serious player. By understanding when to utilize the dink, drive, or lob shots strategically, you can gain a competitive edge over your opponents. Remember, the dink shot offers finesse and control, the drive shot brings power and aggression, while the lob shot provides tactical advantages. Continuously practice these techniques and analyze your opponents to determine the best shot selection in different game situations. Elevate your pickleball game by becoming proficient in advanced shot selection and outmaneuvering your competition.

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