What is a lob? The lob is a lofted shot that sends the ball high overhead and deep. Its purpose is to catch the opponent off guard or force them back to the baseline. It can also be effective as a defensive shot to buy time to get into position for an offensive shot.
I find all lobs offensive in general because it pisses me off to high heaven whenever I get lobbed but, in pickleball, there are actually two types of lobs: defensive and offensive.
- A defensive lob is hit primarily from the baseline while your opponents are at the non-volley zone (NVZ). Its purpose is to buy you time to get into a better position on the court.
- An offensive lob is one that is hit when all four players are at the NVZ. Its purpose is to catch the other team off guard and send them back to the baseline or put them in more of a defensive position away from the NVZ.
Why hit an offensive lob? All of my friends know I hate being lobbed and yet they still do it. Why? Because offensive lobs are a great way to win the rally when your opponents
- are short (this is probably the #1 reason that I get lobbed)
- have a weak overhead (this is the #2 reason that I get lobbed, although my overhead is starting to improve)
- are not very quick or mobile
- don’t play together often or don’t communicate well with one another
- have a weather/environmental disadvantage (e.g. the sun is in their eyes or you’re hitting into the wind)
In the video above, professional athlete and coach CJ Johnson shows us the basics of the offensive lob and also a drill that you can do to practice and perfect this shot.
The setup and body position for the lob is basically similar to the dink shot. Your body is parallel to the NVZ, your paddle is open or tilted back to loft the ball over your opponent’s head, your arm swings from low to high like you’re pushing the ball upward off the paddle, your wrist should be stable, and the ball should contact your paddle in front of your body. The further back your paddle is when you make contact, the harder it becomes to control the direction and trajectory of the ball.
Personally, I have never learned how to lob. I don’t have this shot because I don’t have a tennis background and Chris Heck, who has taught me everything I know about pickleball, doesn’t teach it because it violates his rule #2: Don’t lob. I’m just learning this now through this video and I’m looking forward to trying the drill that she shares at the end.
While I’m not a huge fan of lobs (hate them), once I learn how to do it, I wouldn’t mind trying it now and again.