How to Hit a Lob in Tennis

How to Hit a Lob in Tennis

Before we get into HOW to hit a lob in tennis, you must understand WHAT a lob is. Then understanding WHEN it is used and to what effect it will have in your game will make it a powerful tool in your shot selection arsenal. You are going to learn the steps for how to execute a lob, but go into it knowing it is not an easy shot to master. Knowing what to do is the first step, but this article can not teach your body the muscle memory needed to get good at lobbing (sorry).

Having another shot in tennis to use can help almost every tennis player out there.

What Is a Lob in Tennis?

A lob is a strategic shot that is hit high and well into the back of the tennis court. Lobs can be used to make things more difficult for your opponent. They can be used in both an attacking/offensive manner or a defensive manner.

When to Hit an Offensive Lob

hitting offensive lob

Many lobs are executed when your opponent is standing close to the net preparing to volley. This is the WHEN explanation about lobs. Rather than hitting a passing shot, you hit a lob so the ball will go well over their head and into the court behind them forcing them to retreat from their net position.

A well-executed offensive lob with enough speed and spin can be so difficult for your opponent to reach that it can win the point alone. A good way to describe an offensive lob to somebody who does not play is that it is a shot designed to make your opponent think you are going to a regular groundstroke, but at the last second change you gears and hit it behind them.

Not to be obvious, but it’s an offensive shot – one hit with intent rather than out of desperation.

Lobs look deceivingly easy to execute. They’re difficult to do well, and not something you see novices doing very often. Offensive lobs are a highly effective way to win a point if you can pull it off!

When to Hit a Defensive Lob

just hit defensive lob

A defensive lob is executed similarly to an offensive lob but perhaps a bit more frantically. The defensive version of a lob is just defined differently because it is used for a completely different purpose.

A defensive style lob is used to attempt to prolong the point (the WHEN for a defensive lob). When you’re out of court position the defensive lob will basically ‘buy you time’ to get back to a more suitable position on the court. Defensive lobs are synonymous to the football term, “Hail Mary.” If the ball comes in deep and you must hurry to the back court to return it, you are most likely going to use a defensive lob to keep you in the point. Usually, you’re running like the dickens to get to the ball and use a heave/ho lob to get it back over the net.

You may have used this tactic before and not even realized that the defensive shot used was a defensive lob!

The 3 Steps to Successfully Hit a Lob in Tennis

To hit the perfect lob there are 3 basic steps. Each step must be practiced and well-executed for a lob to work the way you plan. If you get lazy on any one of these 3 steps, your shot will have a much lower chance of success, so pay close attention to the details here!

  1. Preparation
  2. Making contact with the ball
  3. Follow Through

You must execute all 3 of these steps correctly to hit a perfect lob. This is not an easy task and will take a good deal of practice to become proficient, but you must start somewhere right?

Preparation

Getting prepared is possibly the least exciting but most important step of this process. If you attempt to hit a lob without being properly positioned and prepared, your chances of success are reduced.

Hand Positioning & Grip

To execute a topspin lob, personal preference comes into play.  Using a continental grip or an eastern grip will give you the best setup for executing an effective topspin lob.

These grips make it much easier to stroke the back of the ball with the strings and get that fast topspin which causes the ball to dive at the end of the trajectory. Check out this post for more information on how to hit successful forehands and this one about Tennis Grips 101.

Leg and Feet Preparation

Next do a split step and get into ready position. Turn to the side and take your racket back with your shoulders facing perpendicular to the net. The initiation of an offensive forehand lob is just like that of a forehand during the preparation and backswing.

The same can be said on the backhand side for an offensive backhand lob.  The setup is the same as a backhand groundstroke whether you use a one-handed or two-handed backhand.

Prepare for Contact

Bend your knees and drop the racket head below the ball at the level of your mid-calf.

Making Contact with the Ball

Keep your eye on the ball as it comes at you. Now that you are prepared with your legs and arms in the right position you will be able to hit the ball high and deep with some good spin on it.

Flick your wrist and hit the ball upwards. Don’t drive through the stroke as you would a forehand or backhand. Straighten your legs from a bent knee position (like standing up) as you strike the ball but don’t transfer your weight forward. At the point of contacting the ball, the racket face should be just about parallel to the net.

lob trajectory behind opponent

Add some spin to the ball and make sure you are aiming about well above your opponent’s head. The exact height to hit is of some debate. If you hit it too low, your opponent may be able to reach it by hitting an overhead. If you hit it too high, your opponent may have plenty of time to get back to the ball and hit a defensive lob.

The trajectory of the ball and the spin should make the ball land deep into the other side of the court, making it exceedingly difficult to return. It’s also difficult to execute so keep practicing!

Executing the Lob Follow Through

Continue the stroke through the ball with an exaggerated follow through of your arm. Your racket should be high in the air after making contact and swinging through the shot. This will feel awkward the first several times you do it, but over time it will seem normal.

Do not skip out on this. Proper follow though will allow you to be positioned better for what comes next (in the point). Hopefully, what comes next is you getting the point!

Here’s a fantastic video explaining the ins and outs of the steps outlined above.

Let’s See What You Can Do!

Being confident enough to hit an offensive lob may one day shock your opponent. Knowing how to get out of trouble using a defensive lob will likely come in handy during your time on a tennis court sooner than you think. Make sure to practice lobs so can pull out whatever shot is needed from your tennis toolbox.