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Instruction - The Lob

Like everything else, learning to lob takes plenty of practice and for some people it's harder to learn than others. Some people can do it the first time and others have difficulty. Many people that have played for quite a while don't lob well, but it usually is because they seldom try it. Regardless of what your favorite shots are, you should try to develop some skill in all areas of the game. You never know what shot might make a difference against a particular team.

The lob is very similar to a top spin forehand or backhand in that the stroke starts low and ends high. The difference is that for a lob you have to start much lower below the ball in order to be swinging in an upward direction at point of contact. At the point of contact the face of the paddle should be pointing upward at the angle you are trying to hit. The follow through should continue at that same angle and the swing should end with the paddle somewhere above you shoulder when you finish.

If you are able to hit the ball but having trouble hitting a lob, then try the following progression:

  1. Both you and your practice partner should start at 3/4 court and begin to hit the ball back and forth softly from forehand to forehand.
  2. Gradually try to start your swing from a lower position beneath the ball and swing upward but trying to make the ball go higher but still bounce before it gets to your practice partner.
    • If you aren't making any progress, try to get one of the better players at your location to watch what you are doing and make suggestions. Most of the better players are more than happy to help anyone that asks.
    • It may take several days of practice to develop a lob that will work in a real game, but most people will learn quicker and in either case it will be well worth the trouble.
  3. As the ball starts to get higher, try to hit just a little bit harder so it is still landing close to 3/4 court. Continue doing this drill until you can hit the ball back and forth at approximately 3/4 court at a height that is at least 2 times your height.
  4. After you have succeeded at step 3, then start gradually moving deeper into the court and hitting harder and higher. If it stops working, then move closer and hit slower and lower for a while. Eventually you will be back on the baseline and hitting solid high lobs.
  5. After you are having some success at your forehand lob, don't forget to begin trying to do a backhand lob also even though it is a little harder for most people.
  6. Finally, make a point of using your lob in practice games. Part of what you have to learn is lobbing again after the other team hits an overhead and that's even tougher. You can also practice your lob by returning the serve with a lob. It will give you a little more time to get to net and is good practice.
  7. After you have developed some skill at lobbing balls hit to you with ground strokes or volleys, then practicing some of the overhead drills with another player will greatly improve your ability to lob balls that were smashed.