Specialty Shots Series – The “Lob”

  1. For defensive lobs, drop the racquet head well below the ball. Extend the racquet head up and out toward the sky with an open racquet face and preferably a Continental grip.  Hit a relatively flat shot when managing pace is not a concern.  Use underspin or backspin to manage and control the pace of more difficult oncoming balls.  Hit with a very high net clearance and trajectory to buy time and to effectively get back into the point.
  2. For offensive lobs, hit a flat or topspin shot with lower net clearance and trajectory. The goal is to get the ball just barely above the reach of the opposing net player (giving him/her little chance to recover and retrieve the ball after the bounce).  To hit a topspin lob, drop the racquet head well below the ball and accelerate the racquet up, through and past the point of contact in a sharp low-to-high swing path.  The racquet face should be closed at the bottom of the stroke pattern and perpendicular at the point of contact.
  3. The best two-shot lob pattern is a low ball hit at the feet of the net player followed by a lob. The objective is to get the player at the net off balance and leaning forward with the first shot which in turn, opens up the court for an effective, difficult to reach second-shot lob.  A similar pattern is to draw the opposing player (or players) into the net with a drop shot followed by a lob.
  4. It’s easier to hit a lob in response to another lob or ball that has a higher bounce. Conversely it is more difficult to hit a lob in response to a lower bouncing ball.
  5. When hitting a lob from a deeper, more difficult court position, think defense and hit the ball with a higher trajectory and net clearance (as noted in number 1 above).
  6. In hitting a lob when positioned inside the baseline, think offense and hit with a lower trajectory and net clearance. Don’t be too cute with your shot selection.  A drive (and not a lob) is generally a better shot choice when hitting from an advantageous court position.  It’s important to go for the shot (hit with aggression) when in a position to finish the point and not go for the shot (hit more defensively) when not in a position to finish the point.
  7. Hit cross-court when hitting a defensive lob (as when running back and across to cover a lob hit over your partner’s head). There is more court to hit to and recovery after the shot is easier (in terms of positioning).
  8. Hit down-the-line when hitting an offensive lob (particularly if you are closing into the net with the shot). A classic doubles pattern is to redirect the serve return down-the-line and over the net player with an offensive lob, close (to about the service line) and then finish the point with a high volley or overhead.
  9. Maintain active feet to get in the best possible position to hit the lob. There are several footwork patterns that work well in hitting lobs.  One of my favorite footwork patterns in hitting a topspin lob from deep in the court (particularly when the ball is hit behind you) is a corkscrew footwork pattern.  It requires a wide drop-back step with the back foot followed by a kick to propel the body and racquet head up and out to the ball.
  10. Take advantage of outdoor weather conditions. Use the sun and wind to your advantage.  Hitting a lob up into the sun can temporarily blind your opponent making it difficult to hit not only an overhead but the next shot in sequence.  Hitting a lob into the wind can hang the ball up and buy you more time to get into the point.  And although more difficult to execute, hitting a lob with the wind can make it tough on your opponent to hit the overhead or track down the lob on the bounce.

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