In today's post, we're going to discuss the single most lethal pickleball shot that makes it easy to defeat a new player. We're talking about The Lob. The lob is a tricky shot to execute however, when used properly it is a devastating weapon in your strategic arsenal. As you know, the game of pickleball is one that is played at the net. When the volleying at the net is at a frantic pace, a well placed lob shot is a necessary shot to master. Let's review...
There are many types of pickleball shots but the lob is one that is easy to practice and one that is relatively easy to master. The lob is a shot that is just like it sounds, lobbed over your opponents head. The intent is to take your opponents away from the net. When they're crowding the net, which is often done in pickleball, a lob shot up and over their heads can be an effective strategy. When done correctly, the lob shot is placed back towards the opponent's baseline. Placement towards the back corner of their baseline is even better and more difficult to return accurately.
When it comes to mastering a particular pickleball shot, learning technique and the fundamentals are crucial. It's no different for the lob shot. An effective lob has a few basic requirements. First, timing. The timing of when to lob the ball over your opponent's head is important because not all shots coming from your opponent are good lob opportunities. Secondly, paddle face position is critical to executing a lob without hitting the ball too far out of bounds. You'll want a nice, upward swing with the paddle face aiming up towards the sky at a slight angle. Once you are comfortable with the angle of your paddle, you can begin to add spin to your upward motion by flicking your elbow and wrist as you hit the ball. For extensive look into the best paddles on the market for putting spin on the ball, click here.
Mark, from 3rd Shot Sports in the video above does a great job of highlighting the fact that your body AND your arm do the work, not just your arm. Good form on the lob isn't entirely about arm motion. Your arm and swing give the shot it's accuracy while your body motion and follow through give the shot it's power. Good technique should be seen from the swing to the follow through - using not just your arm, but your whole body. Mark does a great job of pointing this out.
Recognizing when to lob is also an important element. Great lob opportunities generally come after your opponents have hit a weak shot or a small dink that lands in front of the net in the no volley zone. This gives you a great opportunity to get underneath the ball with authority and lob it back over their heads.
The Basic Lob
The first is the Basic Lob. This shot uses a basic high to low arm motion and is used to get the ball up and over in a simple fashion. There is nothing fancy here. Typically a basic lob shot is used as a defensive tactic where your only real option to keep the ball in play is to lob it up. If your opponent has you pinned down, this shot may be your only option.
The Spin Lob
The spin lob is used as a more offensive tactic and as the name implies, has spin put on the ball. When you can anticipate executing a lob a shot, using the more aggressive spin lob puts your opponent in a difficult situation. With the spin lob, your main goal is to lob it over their heads but with little to no chance of return. Putting top spin on the ball when the ball lands back towards their baseline allows it to spin away or further back from your opponent. When your opponent does't see the spin lob coming, this can be a devastating shot.
The best reason to go to your bag of tricks and use the lob is when you have a decisive advantage over your opponent in the skill level department. That is why the title of this post is "The BEST Pickleball Shot to Defeat a New Pickleball Player." Defending the lob shot is especially hard for a newer player. Advanced players are well versed on how to counter a lob shot but a new player to the sport of pickleball can be easily caught off guard and out of position by a well timed and well placed lob shot. It is assumed that shorter opponents are the best opponents to use a lob against. But that may not always be the case. A shorter but advanced player can track down and return a lob. A new player, regardless of physical stature is going to have a harder time getting back to the ball, getting into position for a decent return and executing that lob return effectively.
The absolute worst time to use a lob shot is when your going up against an advanced player. Expert players and pros have seen the lob countless times and are usually adequately prepared to counter the shot. So, trying to pull a fast one on these players usually ends up with ball being smashed back in your face. Taller players also have an advantage because the can turn an average lob into a smash opportunity. For more advanced players, a well placed "dink shot" is usually the preferred shot when the volleying at the net becomes frantic.
For more tips on improving your game read our Picklball Strategy article - 5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Pickleball Serve.