The Art of Lobbing

John Owler, The King of Lobs

In senior doubles, the lob becomes an increasingly valuable tool to use for many reasons.  But when and how is it best used?  Some words of advice from a supreme lobber, John Owler…

When to lob

“In my opinion the lob is one of the most important shots to be able to execute in doubles.  I use the lob to set up opportunities for my partner to finish the point and use the lob to get out of tough situations caused by my opponents and restarting the point.”

Aussie doubles champion Mark Woodforde said he and his Woody partner would “try to go at or over the opponent at least one time for each return game.”

Offensive Lob – This shot is often used to start the play as an effective return of serve.  John says, “One of my partners that I play with in tournaments would like me to return every serve over the net man with a deep lob and if it goes over his head to come to the service line.  It’s amazing how often we win these points.”

“Then if the opponent at the net begins to stay further back from the net to cover the lob, my return is then hit low and deep in the middle of the court.”
 
The offensive lob can also effectively be used during a rally, when you find your opponents both at the net and leaning forward.  A quick lob over their heads will have them scrambling back to the baseline.  One teaching point I was told: don’t picture lobbing over the net person’s head, picture WHERE you want your lob to land in the court.

Defensive Lob – If you find your team in trouble and the opponents hit a deep shot, pinning you behind the baseline (and your partner still at the net), that is a good time to throw up a defensive lob – which will allow your team to reset.  According to Owler, “Defensive lobs should be hit higher to give you maximum time to get back into position for the next return.”

“Hitting sliced lobs in the wind can cause problems for your opponents because the lobs take funny bounces affecting your opponents foot work.” 

Wrinkle: The lob volley

When all four players are at the net and leaning forward, that is a great time to sneak in the lob volley.  With virtually the same stroke, you just open the racquet face and try to pop one over their heads.

“The bottom line is that by hitting various lobs your opponents will be out of position that enables you to hit various ground strokes for winners.  The older you get, the more difficult it becomes to put overheads away.  It’s easier to lob over opponents then trying to hit through them.  I am confident you will frustrate your opponents and win more matches by using the lob.”  

How about YOU, are you using the lob or trying to defend against it?

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