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Pickleball Tips: Lobs
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. There are two types of lobs:
1. Defensive Lob – A defensive lob is a lob with much more arc (think of a very high up and down trajectory), where you expect your opponents to be able to hit an overhead back at you; and
2. Offensive Lob – An offensive is a lob that has a flatter trajectory that is just above the reach of your opponents’ paddle (think of a bridge or a rainbow trajectory just over the outstretched arms of your opponents), where you are trying to win the point.
The key differences between a defensive lob and an offensive lob are (1) the angle of the paddle; and (2) the direction of your follow through. A defensive lob requires an open paddle face toward the sky and a vertical follow through, while an offensive lob requires an angled paddle face with an up-and-out follow through.
With that background, let’s get right to it... here are some tips for you to hit the perfect lob on the pickleball court:
1. Preparation – Prepare for the lob in a similar manner as a drop shot or a dink. It is important to disguise the lob, as it is most effective when the lob is unexpected. This means that you will move your body behind the pickleball with your paddle out in front of your body and below the pickleball. You will also be in a compressed stance, with your knees bent.
2. Forehands Preferred – Forehand lobs will generally be easier and more consistent than backhand lobs. As a result, as you are moving behind the pickleball, prepare your feet so that the pickleball is off to your forehand side.
3. Short Backswings – Compress under the pickleball and take a short backswing similar to a drop or dink. Again, it is important to disguise this shot as much as possible, so try to limit your backswing.
4. Out Front & Follow Through – Strike the underside of the pickleball out in front of your body. To hit a strong lob, you must really get under the pickleball with your body and your paddle. If you let the pickleball drop too low, you will struggle to get under the pickleball. Hit the pickleball high enough off the ground to allow your body and your paddle to compress under the pickleball.
5. Court Positioning – Consider hitting the lob when you are at the Non-Volley Zone line (as opposed to at the baseline or in the transition area), as the lob will be easier to execute the closer you are to the Non-Volley Zone line.
Plus, it is generally easier to execute a lob at the Kitchen line when you are in a dink rally, as all of the players on the pickleball court will likely be leaning in over the Kitchen line and the lob may get your opponents moving and off-balance.
6. Use the Elements – Whether you are playing outdoors or indoors, use the elements to your advantage. Lobs can be especially effective if you use the wind, sun, lighting, and rafters (in indoor play) to your advantage. In particular, lob the pickleball so that your opponents have to look into the sun, lights, or rafters to find the pickleball. With respect to wind, be careful. The best rule of thumb is to lob into the wind, but not with the wind.
7. Aim for the Non-Paddle Side – Lob to your opponents’ non-paddle sides. This will require your opponents to run around the pickleball to hit a forehand overhead or force your opponents to hit a high backhand (which is most likely your opponents’ weaker side). If you lob to your opponents’ paddle side, you could be setting your opponents up for an easy forehand overhead.
8. Target the Player with Weak Mobility – A lob is effective because you make your opponents move back on the pickleball court. So, consider targeting your opponent with the weakest mobility. Also, consider the height of your opponents. Is one of your opponents shorter than the other, making for an easier lob?
A lob can be an effective shot on the pickleball court. However, do not overuse this shot. Remember to remain unpredictable with your shot selection.
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