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Top Tips for a Better Lob: Pickleball Strategy Guide

The lob is a difficult but handy shot in pickleball that can help you gain control of a rally. This guide will give you easy tips so you can improve your lobbing skills.

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A well-placed lob is difficult for your opponents, letting you seize control of the rally while they play fetch. Lobs are become more common at higher levels.

Lobs are a true risk and reward. Many lobs are left short and smashed back. Other lobs simply sail long.

Picking a good time to lob is one thing, but it's much harder to hit the shot itself. You don't want to get carried away lobbing too often and giving away free points.

But, with practice the lob can be a useful tool to have in your game. Nothing is more fun than watching the other team run!

Read on to learn how to hit great lobs and add dimension to your game.

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Pickleball Lob Tips:

Stand in a balanced position

Feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Don't lob if opponents are not up at net!

You can lob off the bounce or as a volley, so be prepared to lob at any time.

Be aware of their dominant shoulder

Aim over their non-dominant shoulder so they can't hit an overhead smash as easily.

You can also hit a lob diagonally, giving yourself more room to work with. Many players forget they can do this, and instead only lob straight forward.

Use a compact motion

Basically, hit a dink with a slightly bigger follow-through upwards and outwards.

Not a full swing. Use more force and have your paddle path go down to up.

Hit the ball high

An opponent may be able to reach 10-12 feet in the air if they jump with their paddle. Aim to hit your lob at a peak of ~15 feet by the time it passes over their kitchen line.

It's fine to hit the ball too high, but not good to hit it too low. So aim higher! You need to hit the ball 15 feet or higher within 15 feet of distance in front of you.

Pickleball Lob Benefits:

Forces your opponent out of position

A well-placed lob can make it difficult for your opponent to return the ball, as they have to run literally backwards to go get it. You can lob forward or diagonal.

Sometimes they will even need to switch sides as they backtrack for a lob.

Gives you time to reset

By lobbing the ball, you can take a moment to regain your balance, focus, and composure. Again, all while they track down the ball. It might mess with their rhythm.

A defensive lob can help get you out of a tough situation in a rally.

Can be used to create openings

By lobbing over your opponents, you can create openings and angles that can be exploited on the next shot. They might pinch middle, get spread out, or forget to come back up.

You may be able to smash or drop-shot their next ball. Be ready to pounce!

Effective against aggressive dinkers

Players who tend to reach in and take dink shots out of the air can be especially vulnerable to the lob, as they often have their weight leaning forward and are not ready to adjust and get back to the baseline.

Look for players who reach in for dink-volleys and pokes/punches. Lob them periodically!

Can be used to control the pace of play

By lobbing the ball, you can slow down the pace of the game, making it easier to get the other team from banging away and having to hit a different shot.

It also takes some pressure off your team's offense. You can try to earn some points off lobs and not have to hit hard winners as often. You can essentially play a more controlled pace.

Lob Strategy FAQ

Should I lob from the left side or right?

You can lob from either side, but consider hitting over their non-dominant shoulder so that their smashes are tougher.

Lob both down the line or diagonal, depending on the situation and your opponent's position.

How high should I hit a lob?

Obviously, at least high enough that it goes over their head, out of reach. For many players, this will be at least ten feet high if you factor their height, their arm's reach, and their jump.

Always err on the side of hitting a lob too high, as it's better if your opponent tracks it down than if they can reach it and hit a smash.

As a rule of thumb, perhaps 12-15 feet high. Probably closer to 15. It'll come back down!

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How often should I lob in a game?

Don't get carried away and lob every point. It is very easy to hit too many lobs and it will lose some of its effectiveness. You will often have a better shot available to you.

So don't lob too often! Start with a couple times per game. Remember that many lobs will not lead to a winning point anyways. And also, it's inevitable to mess up some lobs too.

Part of the effect is the element of surprise. Don't be predictable.

When are some good situations to lob?

Consider lobbing an opponent who has just ran up and arrived at the kitchen line.

Consider lobbing after a net cord has been hit. Players tend to creep forward subconsciously.

Consider lobbing the lesser-involved opponent. The dominant opponent may be too focused on helping their partner cover the court. Their partner may not instinctively think to cover for them, as they are usually receiving help themselves.

Bottom Line: Hit Lobs!

The lob is a useful, pesky shot in pickleball.

It can help you control rallies, create problems for the other team, mix up the pace of play, and force your opponent out of position, often back away from the net.

Practice this shot and see if you can incorporate it. Used effectively, you will become a more well-rounded player (and annoying!) player to face.

Strategy guides to read next:

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