Understanding Pickleball Slang From Dink to Ernie

Understanding Pickleball Slang: From Dink to Ernie

Understanding Pickleball Slang

You may have heard of pickleball, the fast-paced sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. But did you know that there’s a whole language unique to the game?

Understanding pickleball slang is essential for communicating with your partner and opponents on the court. It’s also a great way to show off your knowledge and impress fellow players.

On one hand, learning pickleball slang might seem like just another set of rules to follow in a sport that already has plenty. However, on the other hand, it’s an opportunity to tap into the spirit of freedom that drew you to pickleball in the first place.

By mastering these terms and incorporating them into your gameplay, you’ll feel more confident and connected with those around you. So let’s dive in and explore some common pickleball slang terms from ‘dink’ to ‘ernie.’

Key Takeaways

– Knowing pickleball slang is essential for effective communication in the game.
– Mastering the dink shot requires proper technique, spin, and varying placement to control the pace of play.
– The Ernie shot is a skilled shot that involves jumping and hitting a ball out of the air before it bounces.
– The kitchen area is important and known as the non-volley zone, where low and stable stance, short swings, and soft shots are recommended to avoid violations.


If you’re new to pickleball, one term you’ll hear quite often is ‘dink.’

A dink is a soft shot that’s hit just over the net and lands in the non-volley zone. It’s an essential part of the game, as it allows players to control the pace of play and set up for stronger shots later on.

Knowing when to use a dink shot and how to execute it properly can give you a significant advantage on the court.

Definition and Purpose

No pickleball player can win without understanding the purpose of each shot, which is to strategically place the ball in the opponent’s court and force them into making a mistake, resulting in a point.

The dink shot is one of the most important shots in pickleball because it allows players to control the pace of the game while keeping their opponents off balance.

Here are some strategies for incorporating this shot into your overall game plan:

– Master proper technique so you can execute the shot consistently and accurately.
– Add spin to make it more difficult for your opponent to return and increase your chances of winning the point.
– Mix up your placement to keep your opponent guessing.
– Use the dink shot as a setup for other shots, such as a drop volley or overhead smash.
– Keep your dinks low over the net and within reach of yourself or your partner to avoid unforced errors.

By incorporating these strategies into your game plan, you’ll be able to use the dink shot effectively in different situations.

Now that you know how to use this shot properly, let’s move on to when it’s appropriate to use it during a match.

When to Use the Dink Shot

To effectively use the dink shot in a match, you need to be aware of the different scenarios where it can give you an advantage. Mastering the dink shot is an essential skill that every pickleball player should possess. The dink shot is a soft and short touch hit over the net, which lands near your opponent’s feet. This type of shot requires precision and control, but when executed correctly, it can put your opponents in a difficult position.

Understanding the different types of dinks can help you determine when to use them during a game. There are three main types of dinks: crosscourt, straight-ahead, and angled. A crosscourt dink is hit diagonally across the court towards your opponent’s sideline; this type of dink puts pressure on your opponent’s backhand side. A straight-ahead dink is aimed directly at your opponent; this type of shot is ideal for catching them off-guard or making them move forwards quickly. An angled dink is hit at an angle towards one sideline; this type of shot forces your opponent to run laterally across the court to reach it. Knowing when to use each type of dink will improve your chances of winning points in a game.

To transition into the subsequent section about how to execute the dink shot without using ‘step,’ learning how to properly execute each type of dink can make all the difference in improving your game strategy and ultimately achieving victory on the court.

How to Execute the Dink Shot

Executing the dink shot successfully can give you a sense of satisfaction and control on the court, allowing you to dominate your opponents with ease. Here are some technique tips to help you execute this shot with precision:

  • Keep your paddle in front of your body, close to the net.
  • Use a soft grip on your paddle to achieve a gentle touch on the ball.
  • Aim for just over the top of the net, placing the ball where your opponent can’t reach it easily.

Variations of the dink shot include using spin or adding power to make it more challenging for your opponent. However, be careful not to hit too hard as this may result in a mistake or allow your opponent an easy return.

As you master the dink shot, keep in mind that there’s another advanced move called ‘ernie’ which involves crossing over into your partner’s court during play.


You’ve probably heard the term ‘Ernie’ thrown around on the pickleball court, referring to a move where a player jumps and hits a ball out of the air before it bounces. It’s like a basketball player going up for a slam dunk, and just as impressive. The Ernie shot is an advanced technique used by skilled players to gain an advantage over their opponents.

To execute the Ernie shot, you must be in position at the non-volley zone line when your opponent hits the ball. As soon as you see them hit it high enough, you jump towards the ball with your paddle ready to strike it out of the air before it bounces. This requires excellent timing and coordination.

The Ernie shot can catch your opponent off guard and prevent them from returning your shot effectively. However, this move should not be attempted by beginners or intermediate players as missing can result in losing points or even injury. Practice this technique with caution and always keep safety in mind on the court.

Moving onto another important term in pickleball slang – lob – which is essentially hitting high-arcing shots that go over your opponent’s head towards the back of their side of the court.


If you want to add some variety to your shots, try incorporating a lob into your game. The lob shot is an effective way of putting your opponent on the defensive and giving yourself time to regroup.

It involves hitting the ball high and deep over your opponent’s head, forcing them to retreat and hit a defensive lob back. The key to executing a successful lob shot is timing and accuracy.

You need to wait for the right moment when your opponent is out of position or moving towards the net before hitting the ball high enough that they won’t be able to reach it. A well-placed lob can also be used as a surprise tactic if your opponent has been expecting a different type of shot.

It’s important to note that while the lob shot can be effective, it shouldn’t be overused as it can become predictable. Additionally, if you hit a defensive lob too often, it gives your opponent an opportunity to attack at the net.

As with any shot in pickleball, balance and strategy are key. Speaking of which, let’s move on to talking about another important area of the court: the kitchen.


When you’re in the kitchen, it’s important to maintain a low and stable stance to be ready for any incoming shots, much like a skilled basketball player guarding their opponent.

This area is also known as the non-volley zone or NVZ, and it’s one of the most important places on the court.

Here are some things to keep in mind when strategizing for the kitchen:

– Always try to stay at least three feet away from the net
– Use short swings and soft shots to keep your opponents guessing
– Keep your paddle up and in front of you to block any incoming shots
– Be prepared to move quickly from side-to-side

Additionally, avoiding kitchen violations is key when playing pickleball. These can include stepping into the NVZ while hitting a volley or returning a shot that bounces inside the zone.

Remember that you cannot hit a ball out of mid-air within this area unless it has bounced first.

Now that you have a good understanding of how important strategy and avoiding violations are in the kitchen, let’s take a look at some other common pickleball slang.

Other Common Pickleball Slang

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Don’t be intimidated by all the different terms and phrases used in pickleball slang; once you start playing regularly, they’ll become second nature.

Some additional common slang terms include ‘Third Shot Drop’ and ‘Side Out.’

The Third Shot Drop is a strategic shot typically used during the beginning of the game. It involves hitting a soft shot over the net that lands in the opponent’s kitchen, forcing them to hit it back with less power. This is a great opportunity for you to move up to the kitchen line and take control of the game.

Another important term to know is ‘Side Out.’ This occurs when one team serving loses their serve. The serve then switches sides, allowing the other team to serve. It’s important to understand this term because it can greatly affect your strategy during play.

Exploring additional pickleball slang can be overwhelming at first, but don’t let it discourage you from trying out this exciting sport. Once you’ve got these basic terms down, feel free to explore more advanced techniques and strategies that will help improve your gameplay even further!

Remember, practice makes perfect, so get out there and start playing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic rules of pickleball?

In pickleball, the scoring system is simple: you only score when serving, and games go up to 11 points. The court dimensions are smaller than a tennis court, but still require quick movement and strategy.

What equipment is needed to play pickleball?

You’ll need a paddle and ball to play pickleball, but choosing the right equipment is important. Paddle types vary from wood to composite, while ball materials range from indoor to outdoor. Don’t settle for just any gear, find what suits your game.

How is pickleball different from tennis?

Pickleball is similar to tennis, but with a smaller court and different scoring system. The court dimensions are 44 feet by 20 feet and the scoring system is based on points won on serve. It’s a fast-paced, fun game that allows for quick reflexes and strategic shots.

What is the history of pickleball?

You’re curious about pickleball’s origin and popularity in the US. It was invented in 1965 by three dads looking for a fun activity for their kids. Today, it’s one of the fastest-growing sports in America.

Are there any health benefits to playing pickleball?

Playing pickleball provides physical and mental benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased endurance, and reduced stress. The low-impact nature of the sport also helps with injury prevention and recovery. It’s a fun way to stay active and free your mind!


Now that you’ve learned some of the most common pickleball slang terms, you can confidently join in on conversations with other players on the court. Understanding these words will not only enhance your communication skills but also improve your overall game strategy.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn more about the nuances of this exciting sport. Just like a well-placed dink shot, mastering these pickleball slang terms can give you an edge over your opponents.

It’s time to take your game to the next level and become fluent in the language of pickleball. So get out there, hit some balls, and impress your fellow players with your newfound knowledge of dinks, lobs, kitchens, and even Ernies!