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What Is A Lob In Pickleball? Strategy & Tips To Hit The Lob

The lob shot in pickleball is a strategic play designed to arc the ball over an opponent, aiming for it to descend deep into the back of the court. This technique disrupts your adversary’s positioning and creates valuable openings to clinch the point. Effective and tactical, the lob serves as a pivotal move in the pickleball repertoire, offering players a chance to shift the game’s momentum in their favor.

What is a Lob Shot in Pickleball?

As defined by USA Pickleball, a lob is a lofted shot that sends the ball high overhead and deep into the court. Since the first pickleball game was played on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965, lobs have been a regular part of the sport. Offensive lobs can throw your opponent off balance, forcing them to retreat to the backcourt, potentially causing them to commit a fault or reduce the accuracy of their return shot. Defensive lobs are effective for moving your opponent away from the non-volley line, giving you extra time to prepare for your next shot.

Types of Lob Shots

1. Offensive Lob Shot

An offensive lob is aimed just over the reach of your opponent’s paddle, creating a flatter arc, similar to a low rainbow. It’s primarily used to surprise your opponent, especially when they’re close to the net, and to score points. Typically, you’ll use this shot in response to a dink from your opponent, forcing them to quickly retreat and potentially miss the return.

  • Regular or Basic Lob: Keep the paddle slightly open and move it from low to high, similar to a dink motion but with a more pronounced follow-through to send the ball higher and farther.
  • Topspin Lob: “Graze” or “brush up” the back of the ball to put rotation on it with your paddle face. Achieve heavy topspin by getting under the ball with a strong upward motion, making it more difficult to return as it will bounce away from where it landed.

2. Defensive Lob Shot

The defensive lob has a much higher arc, designed to buy time or recover from a tough spot, with the expectation that your opponent might return it with an overhead shot. This type of lob is useful when you’re on the defensive and need to reset the point.

When to Hit Lob Shots

Optimal Moments for Lob Shots

  1. Opponent Close to the Net: Use an offensive lob when your opponent is near the net, as they have limited reaction time and mobility to retreat and return a well-placed lob.
  2. Breaking Momentum: If your opponent is dominating net play, a surprise lob can disrupt their rhythm.
  3. After a Dink Exchange: During extended dink rallies, players often inch closer to the net. A sudden lob in this situation can catch your opponent off-guard.
  4. Regaining Position or Time: If you find yourself out of position or under pressure, a defensive lob can provide valuable time to reset.
  5. Against Less Mobile Players: A well-executed lob can exploit opponents with limited mobility, creating opportunities for easy points.
  6. Playing Against Shorter Opponents: Lobs are typically more challenging for shorter players to return.

Tips to Execute the Perfect Lob Shot

  1. Control Your Power: Aim to hit the ball with enough power to clear your opponent yet gentle enough to prevent it from sailing beyond the baseline.
  2. Optimal Height and Distance: Avoid hitting the lob too low or short, making it easy for an opponent’s overhead smash. Conversely, a lob that’s too high or long may give your opponent ample time to recover.
  3. Master the Trajectory: Launch the ball just out of your opponent’s reach while ensuring it dips down into the back zone of the court.
  4. Read Your Opponent: Assess your opponent’s skill level and position to determine the best time to use a lob.
  5. Use Lobs Strategically: Lobs are most effective when they disrupt your opponent’s gameplay rhythm.

How to Defend Against Lobbers

  1. Anticipate the Lob: Watch for cues indicating a lob shot.
  2. Enhance Footwork: Practice moving backward quickly to position yourself.
  3. Perfect Your Overhead Smash: Be ready to return lobs with a strong overhead.
  4. Optimize Court Positioning: Stand at an effective distance from the net to cover lobs.
  5. Use the ‘Bounce It’ Rule: Let high lobs bounce for better positioning and return options.
  6. Communicate in Doubles: Call out lobs early for better coordination with your partner.
  7. Return with Defensive Lobs: Counter a lob with another lob if effective.
  8. Practice Against Lobbers: Improve by regularly playing against opponents who use lobs.

What do you think?

Written by Pickle Pete

Pete is a semi-professional pickleball player known for his powerful serves and strategic play. Growing up in Austin, Texas, Pete was introduced to the sport at a young age and quickly developed a passion for the game. His athleticism and dedication to training have made him a formidable opponent on the court.

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