Better Short or Long?

Can you name these two?
Can you name these two?
In doubles, is it better to hit a lob that is too short or too long? Here are two contrary opinions.

If you hit it too short, the net man has an easy put-away overhead – that he could either NOT put away and allow you back in the point; or he could miss it altogether and you are “gifted” the point.

If you hit it too long, it is out. End of point. So the answer should be obvious.

Contrary Opinion

But I believe, in the long run, it is better to miss long rather than giving your opponents the opportunity to crush an overhead at you or your partner. Not only will they win the point; but they gain the psychological advantage of “dominating” the point.

And if you hit one or two lobs long, you can more easily adjust your sights and end up with many more offensive lobs that will win YOU points + gain the psychological advantage over your opponents.

Earn a PhD

So when lobbing, “Put it higher and Deeper” and you will earn your PhD in lobbing!

Other opinions?

Know someone who should read this? Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at

My Book: and if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page.

10 thoughts on “Better Short or Long?

  1. Mutt and Jeff… Jeff usually plays the ad court because of his strong overhead, and Mutt is the rabbit that chases down lobs that go over Jeff’s head

    Jack, right on! george

  2. If you are trying to get the lob over the net person’s head, it will probably be short.
    If you ignore the net person and just visualize hitting a spot 3 feet from the baseline, the lob will many times be effectively deep.

    Winder, very good concept! thanks, george

  3. Even if a few go long – you have put the fear of lobbing in their heads and they will probably back off the net a bit to defend future lobs which will end up opening up more angles!

    Mike, another plus! george

  4. Hey, George! Hmmm…seems to me (Oh yeah, and I knew they were Mutt & Jeff, too; I’m getting older but never old so that’s why I knew) there should be three lob options: 1. Too short means it didn’t get over the net. 2. “Bad short” means it’s in the range of the net person crushing an overhead and killing your partner at the net and 3. Too long is correctly identified as out of the court at the baseline. Your question “Which is better would, in my estimate, be “None of the above.” Better would be the the “3 feet from the baseline Bill mentions above or the even better within the three feet to right on the baseline — which, of course, all senior players can do at will, right? (Hey! Who said I am a dreamer?!?!) Even more important to any success I have in doubles (I much prefer singles) when lobbing is when I can put the lob directly into the sun, thus burning the retinas of my opponent attempting to hit an overhead. It usually results in winning the match by default since the blinded player will often depart for the emergency room at the local hospital. I use this strategy in singles as well but it only works on sunny days. Some people will do ANYTHING to win but that’s not me. I always apologize and help the wounded one to his partner’s car for the ride to the E.R. I’m hoping one day to win the “Sportmanship” award at one of the tournaments. Think I’ve got a chance?

    Bernie, you are just one nice guy!! george

  5. Depends on whether or not we are wearing our suit of armor, or hugging the baseline/fence area.

    Dag, or, a cup! george

  6. I will throw in two more lob options beyond simply short or deep: Sky high lob, or lower trajectory lob just out of the opponent’s reach.

    The latter is customarily the goal of a well executed topspin lob, because if it is hit properly and with enough spin, the opponent has no chance of turning around after not reaching the lob and catching up to the ball to still hit it back after it bounces. Topspin will/ should cause the ball to leap toward the back fence and it will lunge out of the way of the opponent trying to run it down. However, topspin lobs are technically harder to hit, and especially to hit well, and the problem is that if you don’t get them quite high enough, or with enough spin, you will have a fuzz sandwich in your face as the next shot from your opponents. I use topspin lobs sparingly, and mainly when I am returning an opponent’s weaker second serve. They are very hard to time off of a hard first serve.

    But the sky high lob has its place too, and I don’t think enough players use it. (Of course, it can only be used outside, unless you happen to be playing on an indoor court that was converted from a former airplane hangar.) The sky high lob is especially useful in doubles when the server is playing serve and volley and, as he is coming to net, the receiver happens to hit a well placed lob (but NOT a topspin lob) over the serving partner’s head at net. Most times it is the server who is better position to run down the lob than the net man in this situation, but the server needs to quickly change direction and run sideways and backwards from his net approach to cover the lob — and that presents a challenge. If the server manages to reach the lob at all, very frequently this results in a weak or short lob back from the server, or he completely blows the point by trying to hit a winner passing shot from near the baseline off of a lob bounce — in either case, not a smart or high percentage shot.

    So, the solution is to throw up a very high lob that takes some time to bounce on the opponents’ court. Obviously the deeper on their court the better but even sky high lobs that land in the middle area of the court can be useful. First, all that hang time in the air gives the serving team time to get set for an overhead, drop shot, angle or whatever other kind of shot the other team may use. Second, it is surprising the number of players who flub an overhead when faced with a sky high lob. Either they are not accustomed to taking a ball out of the air that is coming down from so high a trajectory, or they have trouble timing the overhead if they let it bounce and then try to hit and overhead after the bounce.

    My partner and I used the sky high lob to great advantage in a USTA league doubles match that we played last weekend. Out of about a dozen times that we threw up the shot, our opponents only once won the point. They outright missed the overhead about half the time, and they hit poorly placed smashes the remaining times that allows us to stay in and ultimately win the points.

    Marty, i am a big believer in the very high lob for all your reasons, and have been using it for years; thus, my PhD designation. thanks, george

Comments are closed.