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Pickleball Lob: What To Know

There are lots of pickleball shots, but the lob shot is one of the easiest to learn and perfect.

It is important to know when to use the lob shot in pickleball, as it is beneficial in helping you get the point.

Overview of the Pickleball Lob

Also known as an elevated-lofted shot, a lob is when the pickleball player hits the ball high over the opponent’s head and lands right in the back of the court.

The shot is very effective in matches, especially if they are not recreational matches.

The lob shot is best used when the opponent stands in the non-volley zone, i.e., too close to the net.

This shot sends the ball over your opponent’s head, intending to take your opponent and their attention away from the net.

Crowding around the net is often done in pickleball, so a lob shot is a good strategy to get your opponent away from the net, giving you a chance to get a point.

What Are the Two Types of Pickleball Lob Shots?

There are two kinds of lob shots in pickleball, called the basic lob and the spin lob.

Basic lob

This uses a basic high-to-low arm action and gets the ball over the opponent’s head in a straightforward manner.

A basic pickleball lob shot is considered a defensive lob, where your best option is to keep the ball in play.

If your opponent has the upper hand, then the basic lob can help you.

Spin lob

This is an offensive lob and is done by spinning the ball.

Using the spin-lob shot is aggressive and will put your opponent in a tight spot.

With this lob, you have to lob it over with very little chance of the ball returning.

You can do a spin-lob by hitting the ball with a low to high stroke and ‘brush up’ the back of the ball with your paddle.

This gives the rotation.

Usually, the spin-lob shot is only done by professional players, as it takes a lot of tactics.

It is usually difficult for your opponent to return the shot, as when the ball lands, it will bounce away, making it hard for them to catch.

Guaranteed point!

How to Hit a Pickleball Lob Shot

You should always practice hitting pickleball lobs before executing them in a match.

You can follow these steps to easily hit pickleball lobs:

  • Open the paddle face, and hit a shot that looks like a dink.
  • Hold a firm grip on your paddle (this is called soft hands). This is important! Quickly examine the height and depth of how you will extend the paddle. Do this forward and out so the ball will go overhead.
  • Bend your knees to make the lob more effective. This is better than just flicking your wrists. Hit the ball slowly and relax your wrists. Go on with a smooth hit on the ball.
  • Lead with your knuckles rather than your fingers. Put the ball in the front, making it even easier to hit the lob shot.

If you do not follow these steps or practice the shot, it will fail you and become a weak shot in a pickleball match.

When Is It Appropriate to Hit an Offensive Lob?

If you see your opponent leaning forward at the non-volley zone, this is the best time to strike with the lob shot.

Your opponent would be expecting a dink shot, but to their surprise, when you hit the lob shot!

A lethal pickleball shot is best in these situations:

  • You’re hitting against the wind- The wind can be used to your advantage, as it can make a well-placed lob shot and place it deep in the back of the court. Remember to time your shot properly if you use the offensive lob.
  • Your opponent is not quick enough- If your opponent does not catch your lob fast enough, then it’s a guaranteed point! A well-executed offensive lob needs your opponent to move fast.
  • Nature is not on your opponent’s side. If the sun is shining on your opponent, making it hard for them to notice the ball overhead, then it’s perfect for offensive lobs.
  • They are not good at catching overheads- One of the best defenses against a lob is a strong overhead shot. A lob will guarantee a win if you know that your opponent cannot hit a good overhead.

Don’t use the offensive lob tactic too much in your pickleball matches, especially if you’re playing for fun.

Some pickleball players can’t handle the lob because of mobility and skill issues, and it can quickly become boring.

Keep it to a reasonable amount, and remember to keep pickleball a fun activity!

How to Defend Against an Offensive Shot

Preparing a defensive shot is just as important as knowing how to do an offensive lob.

You can defend the lob using the following strategies.

Defensive lob

You can use a low drive, allowing you to drop on the next play and follow it up on the non-volley zone line.

If you’re committed to being on the defensive side, throw a lob as a return shot to get some time to decide what your next move will be.

Drop shot

If the lob manages to get over your head and lands in the court, you should run it down and hit a drop shot if possible.

A drop is a soft shot that is hit from the back, so it lands on the opponent’s non-volley zone.

This allows you to run back up to your NVZ, which is your main goal after being hit with a lob.

Overhead shot

This is the best tactic against an offensive lob.

You can hit the lob by using an overhead shot.

If you are skilled and quick enough, you can always use this tactic to defend yourself against a lob.

An overhead shot that is executed well will win you a point.

It is a hard shot hit downward straight into the court of the opponent.

Your paddle is brought forward with your elbow straight when you touch the ball. It is a tough shot for the opponent to hit back.

When Is the Lob Not Advised?

You should not use this shot if you are playing against a professional player.

Whether this is a fun match or a tournament one, the lob should not be done while playing a pro player.

Usually, they have seen the lob many times and are well-prepared for it, making it a disadvantage on your part.

Taller pickleball players also have the opportunity to turn your lob into an overhead smash, which results in bad news for you!

For these players, you should instead hit a well-placed dink shot, which is preferred when your opponent is close to the net.

More Pickleball Lob FAQs

Is it good to use the lob?

Yes. It is actually an important factor in the game and has the ability to be the deciding aspect of a match.

When it is done properly, it is difficult for the opponent to return the shot, which gives you a point.

However, if you don’t do it properly, your opponent can have the upper hand.

What is a defensive lob?

A defensive lob is when you hit the lob to make the opponent run to the baseline.

This prolongs the point, giving you time to return to the NVZ and get a better defensive position.

However, if you are unsuccessful, your lob can be smashed by an overhead shot.

Should I lob against or with the wind?

You should not lob with the wind, as it may push your shot out of bounds.

If you are daring enough, you can try a third lob shot with the wind.

You should always lob against the wind for better effects.

Should I use the lob as an offensive or defensive shot?

The lob is best used as an offensive play.

This is done at the NVZ and keeps your opponents on their toes as they’re wondering what’s your next move.

Don’t use it defensively unless you don’t have other options.

If you are lobbing defensively, you must lob extra high.