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Strategy - The Lob

The lob is very much under-rated and under-used by most players, but is a shot that can be highly effective in senior pickleball at the novice through club "A" player. At the open tournament levels, it doesn't work nearly as well because the top senior players still move well and most have pretty fair overheads but it still is a necessary skill. As the age brackets get higher and the players slow down, the lob tends to works better and better.

At the Novice through "B" senior club levels, many of the players don't move well and many don't hit overheads well even when they move well. At this level of play, a good lob at the appropriate moment can be very effective. Even a bad lob will be difficult for many players at this level to put away, where as they might be fairly tough to hit through with a hard drive.

The lob needs practice just like all your other shots and will probably not work well for you until you have used them quite a bit and hit your fair share of bad lobs. However, they are really the easiest shot to learn.

When you hit your lob, you should not be trying to hit a perfect lob that lands on the baseline and wins a point, because you will make too many errors. The real goal with a lob is: to get time to get back in position when you have been drawn out of position, to make the other team retreat from the net so you can move in, to take advantage of another player's weakness which is the usual reason, or finally you might be trying to win with defense because the other team is winning when you try offense.

To be successful, the lob has to be hit fairly high. A low lob that would otherwise hit the baseline might be smashed by the tall net player standing just a little behind the no-volley line, but a high lob landing a foot inside the baseline might be out of reach of that same tall player who managed to move back to 3/4 court while attempting to hit the ball. Another reason to hit your lobs high, is that most players have more difficulty judging the ball and timing their swing when the ball is high. The higher the ball, the more difficult it is to do an overhead.

In actual competition, the best senior players can usually reach and smash almost all balls except when they are surprised or off balance from a shot. However, most of them can't hit the ball hard enough or place it well enough on a deep lob to put the ball away. Most will put a lot of the short lobs away, although if you guess where they are going to hit the ball, you can get most overheads back.

Lobbing will only work if your partner can lob or at least return their smashes most of the time and you also need at least one opponent who's either doesn't have a great overhead or tends to get excited and miss when you return several of their overheads.

The greatest danger in lobbing is that it can be so successful, that when you run into a team that destroys lobs, you can't make yourself quit.