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Hardscrabble Scramble
March 2002 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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An Easy Way To Lob

Mike Whittington Photo
Mike Whittington

Lobbing is one of those shots that can really save you in a match. A good lob can not only keep you in the point but it can allow you to hit an offensive shot and take control of the net. If you watch the tour players you probably have seen them hit these awesome topspin lobs over their opponent. These are great and once it makes it over the opponent it is rare that a player can run it down and return it.

The problem with these topspin lobs is that they can be a little difficult to execute if you don't have good feel or you don't already have control over a topspin groundstroke. My rule of thumb is "don't go for a great shot when a good shot will win the point." For many of your opponents, just getting the ball over their head will win the point for you. It isn't necessary to hit big topspin on most lobs because a well placed lob over their head will get the job done.

I believe a good way to hit a lob is to keep your wrist firm and just open the frame up and push through and up. Your wrist will actually be similar to the way you hit a volley. If you can learn to hit a good lob that is relatively flat but lands halfway between the service line and the baseline you will probably be fine in most situations. Why try a risky shot with lots of wrist unless it is really necessary?

Think about this scenario in doubles. You are receiving serve on the deuce court and you throw a lob over the net player. The server immediately has to hit a running backhand of some sort (assuming he/she is right handed). What a great way to take control of a point! Many players only lob when they are in trouble but good players know the value of being able to run your opponents up and back as well as side to side. Follow this lob return with your usual cross court drive and you can really keep your opponent guessing.

Keeping your wrist a little more firm can still allow you to hit an offensive or defensive lob based on the trajectory and height of your shot. A topspin lob can be a very valuable tool but you need to make sure that you have confidence in it and that it is necessary to win the point. Practice keeping your wrist similar to the way you volley and I bet you will learn to love the lob.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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