The Pickleball game is a fast-paced sport that requires skill, strategy, and quick reflexes. The pickleball lob is one of the most effective techniques that can give you an edge over your opponent. The lob shot is a high, arching shot that sends the ball high in the air and over your opponent’s head. It’s a valuable tool that can be used to create space, buy time, and set up your next shot.
When executed properly, it might be tough for your opponent to reach and return the ball, leading in an easy point. When executed poorly, you have the risk of providing your opponent with an easy escape. In this article, we’ll discuss the mechanics of the pickleball lob shot, its benefits, and when to use it to your advantage.
What is a Pickleball Lob Shot?
A lob is a shot in pickleball where you’re going to add some elevation to the pickleball’s path and launch it quite high in the air to go over the opponent’s head. It is a high lofted shot. Moreover, it is typically employed in the non-volley zone (NVZ) line since there is room between your opponent and the baseline to make a lob shot.
As defined by USA Pickleball, the lob refers to a lofted shot that propels the ball high overhead and deep. In pickleball, a well hit lob can be very effective.
Ideally, the purpose of the lob shot is to place your opponent in a difficult position while attempting to return the ball and strengthen your standing on the court.
Offensively, the objective is to send the ball over the head of the opponent and return them to the baseline. Using a defensive lob shot can afford you time to move into a more advantageous position and arrange your offensive shots.
Types of Lobs
Regular or Basic Lob
A regular lob is not difficult. It is a pickleball lob shot with a high, curved trajectory that is intended to land near the baseline of the opponent. Moreover, a standard lob demands a standard paddle action from low to high.
Top Spin Lob
The top spin lob is much more forceful and powerful than the standard lob. As top spin is introduced to the ball, it will fly more erratically when it strikes the ground, making it nearly impossible to return. Because it needs greater paddle expertise, it is a more difficult shot to execute.
What is an offensive lob?
The trajectory of an attacking lob is usually flatter. Therefore an attacking lob has a flatter angle than a defensive lob. It is designed to fall in the region of the court behind your opponent and curve slightly over their line of sight.
An offensive lob is a great option when your opponent is in the Kitchen or Non Volley Zone line since they will have to walk backward to return the ball.
How do you hit an offensive lob shot?
Technique and preparation are both necessary for an attacking lob to be successful. Raising the paddle face and using an out-and-up stroke is the easiest technique. You must have a balanced position and be able to place the paddle under the ball while simultaneously elevating your knees while lifting the pickleball upwards. Transferring weight should go in the direction of your intended goal. The touch point will be within proximity and in front of you. You will have significantly less control if you cannot reach the ball without stretching.
The Offensive Lob: When Is It a Sensible Shot?
When you see your opponent leaning in at the Non-Volleyball Zone line, anticipating a dink shot, that is when you should launch your offensive lob. When you are just near to the Non-Volleyball Zone, it is easier to hit an attacking lob, similar to a drop shot.
The farther you are from the non volley zone line or NVZ or Kitchen line, the more difficult it will be to effectively throw the ball above your opponent’s head and beyond their grasp. Your opponent has much more time to respond to your lob if the ball stays in the air longer.
Analyze the elements, and lastly. The sunlight in your opponent’s eyes will make it more difficult for them to see and hit the lob.
Considering the wind’s strength and direction, your lob will become easier or more difficult. It is simpler to manage an attacking lob when you try to practice hitting pickleball lobs against the wind than with it. But you must hit it strong enough to pass your opponent’s head. Whenever the wind is behind you, it is more probable that your lob will go out of limits. Consider both while attempting to lob a ball.
Where Should you Hit an Offensive Lob?
A strong offensive lob should be hit above, behind, and to the opponent’s non-paddle side. Typically, this will compel your opponent to smash their subsequent shot on the move with their backhand or run around the ball to strike it using their forehand. They can set themselves for an overhead smash if your lob is short.
When To Avoid Offensive Lobs?
It is important to be aware of your opponent’s whereabouts and then think of offensive lobs. For example, do not lob the ball while they are deep in the backcourt. They will use the chance to smash the ball back at you if you do not lob the shot above their heads.
Following the double bounce rule that has been met, many pickleball players try a lob as their third shot (rather than a third shot drop). This shot is typically ineffective since your opponents will be in an advantageous position at the kitchen line and won’t be shocked by the lob attempt.
As a lobber, tall players with long arms are more difficult to defeat. It is even more crucial to bend the ball higher to get over them. Anything shorter will make it simpler for them to reach. Therefore it will likely lead to an overhead smash.
Avoid hitting an attacking lob whenever your torso is in an unfavorable posture. You would like the ball to be directly in front of you and somewhat close when you establish contact, so you can quickly get your pickleball paddle beneath it while maintaining a low stance.
What is a Defensive Lob in Pickleball?
Imagine that your opponent has taken possession of the point and that you are frantically attempting to return the ball. A high lob may be the safest and most intelligent option to stay in the round in this scenario. And that’s what defensive shots are all about.
The defensive lob launches, in contrast to the offensive lob, to buy time to rejoin the rally.
A defensive lob causes the ball to travel farther and remain airborne for longer. This gives your adversary the chance to choose their best shot, which can be a rapid overhead return.
How do you Hit a Defensive Lob Shot?
To play a defensive pickleball lob is comparable to hitting an attacking lob, with two key distinctions. The first is the inclination of your paddle at contact, while the second is the orientation of your follow-through.
For a defence, the open face of your paddle should have an upward angle. In addition, your follow-through must rise vertically, as opposed to out and away from the body, while throwing an offensive lob.
You should avoid flicking the ball with your wrist like the offensive lob. Position your body and paddle under the ball when playing pickleball. Then, direct and elevate it higher while placing your knees and body weight into the shot. This significantly increases your control.
Where Should you Hit a Defensive Lob?
Like the offensive lob, an effective defensive lob passes over the opponent’s head far back on the court as feasible, especially on their non-paddle side. Hence, this gives you additional time but makes it more difficult to return successfully.
When is Defensive Lobs a Smart Shot?
These pickleball lobs will help you get more time. Whenever your opponents are near the non volley zone line, putting you on your heels and at a disadvantage, defensive lo can assist you to reposition and return to the offensive by forcing the opposition to their baseline.
When To Avoid Defensive Lobs?
The defensive lob is frequently a last-ditch effort. It typically hits on the run or from a weak position, and it may become your only choice to remain in the rally.
For an offensive shot, the same factors apply. Prevent lobbing to a player deep on the court and prepared to aggressively return the ball.
Offensive or Defensive Shot
It is crucial to differentiate between offensive and defensive shots while lobbing. Sometimes the only shot you think you can get over the net and onto the court is a defensive shot to restart the point and/or restore position. In most circumstances, though, you must be offensive.
Pickleball lobs should be practiced from the non-volley zone. Take care from where and when you smash pickleball lobs, though. Determine the circumstances in which you observe an opponent who is off-balance or leaning too far forward. Once you’ve done that, try hitting the ball where it will be most difficult for them to return it.
Beginners vs. Pro Player Lob Shots
Beginners are more susceptible to being defeated by lobs. A beginner pickleball player frequently struggles to strike a return shot with them. Additionally, older players struggle to shoot lobs due to their restricted mobility.
For skilled players, returning a lob is natural. If you perform poorly, you could put them up for the ideal overhead smash.
Professional pickleball players will be swift enough to return a lob at a professional tournament stage effectively. Therefore, it is essential to disguise the lob and take your opponent off guard.
Defending A Lob Shot
A lob is a good attacking technique, but how to defend a shot against a well-placed lob? Here are some ways:
- Overhead Shot
Using an overhead shot to hit the lob before it bounces will result in the best return. If you are swift and have a nice overhead movement, you should attempt to execute this as frequently as feasible. A well-placed overhead shot hit properly deep or at an angle will nearly always earn you the point or end the rally. If you cannot accomplish the overhead shot, a drop seems a viable strategy for returning the lob shot.
- A Drop
A drop shot is a soft shot played from the backside of the court with the intention of landing within the opponent’s non-volley zone. Hence, this will allow you to return to the non volley line, resulting in the preferred result. Your primary objective is to regain your spot at the non-volley zone line after a lob has driven you back.
- A Defensive or Drive Lob
If you cannot properly employ an overhead or drop while your opponent gives you a lob, try a low drive that will ideally enable you to drop on the following stroke and follow that up to the NVZ line.
If you’re truly on the defensive, use a defensive as a comeback shot to allow yourself additional time to prepare for your next shot.
An effective lob is an exceptionally effective shot to hit from both an attacking and defensive viewpoint. Make sure to include it in your game. However, don’t overdo the lob, especially if you’re not hitting it intentionally.