The lob is the most divisive shot in tennis for recreational players. Some players love it and some players hate it. If you are new to tennis a lob is a soft, arching shot that lands deep in the court. The reason that this shot is loved and hated is because it can be extremely effective when used properly and on the flip side of that it can be very difficult to play against if you do not know how to counter or defend against a lob.
When talking about lobs – there are two different types. There is the offensive lob and the defensive lob. Let’s start with the offensive lob. This lob is also called the topspin lob because you are creating a lot of topspin on this shot so that once the ball hits the ground it will shoot towards the fence quickly. This is the “offensive” part of the shot as it will be more difficult for your opponent to catch up to the ball as it shoots towards the fence. The other part of this shot that makes it “offensive” is the disguise that goes into the shot. This lob will look like a normal forehand or backhand until the last second when the player brushes up and lifts quickly to create the topspin lob. Since it looks like a normal groundstroke it is difficult to anticipate and cover the lob.
The defensive lob is usually used when a player is just that, on defense. It is a last resort shot that must be used to stay alive in the point. You usually see players use a continental grip and an open racquet face to lift the ball high into the air and deep into the court to give them time to recover back to the middle of the court.This lob is hit with backspin or underspin which helps control the ball. Some players will resort to a lob when they are not in a defensive position simply because it is a safe shot and they can easily get the ball in with a lob. You may see this when a player gets nervous or is close to winning or losing a match, or it may simply be their strategy to win.
The lob can be a very effective shot in doubles as well. Since there are four people on the court and space is limited, sometimes the only available shot to create offense for yourself is to go over your opponent’s heads with the lob. Lobbing over a team can cause confusion – the team must communicate well to know which one of them will cover the shot.
Whether you love or hate the shot when used at the right time the lob can be very effective!