A lob is a shot in pickleball where you will put some height on the trajectory of the pickleball and send the pickleball relatively high into the air.
The pickleball lob is on the rise (literally and figuratively). But, if the lob could speak, it would likely quote LL Cool J with “Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years.” In other words, although the lob is a shot that is used more and more on the pickleball court, it has been a part of the sport for decades.
In honor of the rise of the lob, be mindful of these 12 do’s and don’ts for the pickleball lob next time you are on the pickleball court, so you can have the best lob and lob strategy out there:
- Don’t lose sight of the purpose of your lob. The lob will not necessarily win the point on that shot, but the lob will help you to set up the next couple of shots and help you win the rally by pushing your opponents back into the court near the baseline.
- Do lob over your opponents’ backhands. Backhands are usually your opponents’ weaker sides, so they will have more difficulty counterattacking your lob.
- Do lob over shorter and less mobile pickleball players, as the lob will be more effective (as opposed to taller and more mobile pickleball players).
- Don’t lob with the wind (unless you are daring enough to try a third shot lob – more on this below), as the wind will likely push your lob out of bounds. Rather, lob against the wind.
- Do lob with the elements, so that your opponents have to look into the sun (if playing pickleball outdoors) or into the rafters/lights/ceiling (if playing pickleball indoors). This will make visibility difficult for your opponents.
- Do use the lob as an offensive weapon. To do so, lob when you are at the Non-Volley Zone line and keep your opponents guessing by hitting a lob off of shots that bounce and shots that you hit out of the air.
- Don’t use the lob defensively unless you are out of options. If you do use the lob defensively, then lob extra high (to give yourself and your partner more time) and try to keep it in the middle of your opponents’ side of the pickleball court.
- Do try to lob first in a match if you are playing against opponents that love to lob (and you or your partner do not like the lob). Get ahead of your opponents by hitting a strong lob against them first (when the opportunity presents itself), before your opponents have a chance to lob you.
- Do try the lob on the serve. A lob serve can throw off your opponents’ timing and can cause unforced errors.
- Do try the lob on the return of serve when you need more time to get to the Kitchen line.
- Don’t use the lob at the baseline or the transition area, unless you are using the lob defensively, hitting a lob serve or lob return of serve, or trying a third shot lob. To note, the third shot lob should be used very sparingly to catch your opponents off guard. Also, if you are daring enough to try the third shot lob, consider using the third shot lob when you are hitting with the wind (which is opposite of the typical rule of thumb when it comes to pickleball lobs and wind), as the wind could help carry your lob from deep in your side of the pickleball court to deep in your opponents’ side of the pickleball court.
- Do put top spin on your lob (if possible), which will help pull the lob down out of the air and keep your shot in the pickleball court.