The lob is one of the most boring, yet most tactically efficient shots in club tennis. I will talk about ways to use the lob offensively, defensively, and how to defend the lob as well.
Offensive lobbing is something that most people do not usually consider. Whether you are playing singles or doubles, lobbing while you are in a toe to toe baseline rally or lobbing over the volleyer would be considered an offense lob. The more offensive lob would be the topspin lob which is done with a more western grip, more racket head speed, and more rotation of the body and forearm. The easier lob would be a flat lob which is done with an “open” grip continental or eastern which is simply swinging with a firm wrist from low to high. A good topspin lob will most likely lead to a short ball and a great drop shot opportunity for you to make your opponent run the distance of the court. A solid lob, either flat or topspin, could also lead into a high lob return, which you can take as a volley or swing volley to finish the point. Therefore, most often the offensive lob is used to not necessarily finish the point but to set you up to finish the point on the next shot.
Defensive lobbing is also a great weapon. When you are on the ropes running side to side there is nothing better to throw your opponent’s rhythm off than a great high defensive lob. The defensive lob can buy you time to help regain your court positioning as well as do less running. Also, hitting a lob off of a lob is a great defensive play to regain your court positioning.
What is the type of player not to use a lob against? A big, strong athletic player that can take the ball out of the air, back up and hit a heavy topspin ball in reply or a player with a strong overhead. These players can use their skill to attack this type of ball and the lob should be cautiously used in these circumstances.
Other factors that could be helpful when lobbing are the sun, wind, and nighttime; all can be used to either help the lob or hurt the lob. Lob against the wind, into the sun and definitely up high under the lights.
Your peers may start hating you on the court, but adding a lob whether flat or topspin can be a great asset to your doubles and singles game.
Have fun with all the different types of lobs that you can use!
About the author: Eric Hechtman is Tennis Director at Royal Palm Tennis Club, located in Pinecrest, Florida, Miami-Dade County. As well as running the teaching programs at Royal Palm, Eric was named USTA Junior Competitive Coach of the Year 2013 and one of his students, Chase Perez Blanco, was named the Junior Player of the Year 2013.
Hechtman is a hitting partner for Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Venus Williams and Serena Williams. Eric enjoys teaching all levels but specializes in fitness, technique and strategy at the intermediate to advance level.