How to Lob in Pickleball: A Beginner’s Guide – spin-it

How to Lob in Pickleball: A Beginner’s Guide

Third-shot drops, dinks and volleys are mentioned a lot in most pickleball beginner’s guides you find online, but these aren’t the only shots you need to have in your arsenal. As your skills improve and you start to play more experienced players, you'll need to expand your shot selection to be genuinely competitive.


The lob shot is one shot you should learn and incorporate in your games. The lob doesn’t get as much love as other shots, but it’s very useful to learn. Done right, it’s a sneaky weapon that can disrupt your opponent’s strategy. 


In this article, we discuss the pickleball lob: what it is, how to do it, and when it is best to use it.

What Is a Lob Shot in Pickleball?


A pickleball lob shot is a high-arching shot that travels deep into the opponent's court. As an offensive shot, the lob forces the opponents to move back from the non-volley zone (also known as the "kitchen") and back into the baseline. As a defensive shot, a lob can give you some space and time to reset your position on the court.


What Is a Lob in Pickleball For? 


Lob Shots Can Create Opportunities

A well-executed pickleball lob can help you take control of the game by putting your opponents on the defensive and breaking their rhythm. It can allow you to approach the net and establish a dominating position or simply buy you some time to catch your breath and regroup.


They Add Versatility and Variety to Your Game

As they say, never let them know your next move. Adding variety to your game is essential in keeping your opponents guessing. Mixing in lob shots with your other shots keeps them on their toes and helps you stay one step ahead.


They Help You Challenge Advanced Players

While some advanced players might quickly adapt to your lob strategy, many will still struggle with high, deep shots. This can lead to weaker returns or even unforced errors, tilting the game in your favor.


How to Execute a Pickleball Lob 

Performing a lob shot can be tricky at first, as it requires a delicate balance between power and touch. Unlike the powerful groundstrokes or volleys commonly used in pickleball, lobs rely on a soft, controlled swing to achieve a high arc and deep placement. Simply put, lobs can’t be smashed—they require precision and a gentle touch. 


However, practice makes perfect. Read the steps below to become familiar with the correct way to do a lob shot, then take the information you’ve learned to the court. If you can, practice with a friend, ideally a more experienced player. They can tell you if your technique looks good and offer pointers if there are areas for improvement.


  1. The Grip

Use a relaxed grip, either hammer or continental, which allows for more wrist range of motion.


  1. Prepare for the Shot

Bend your knees slightly and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Track the ball with your eyes and position your paddle comfortably in front of your body.


  1. Initiate the Shot

Maintain balance and focus on weight transfer.  A small step forward might be used for balance, but power generation is not the primary goal.


  1. Backswing

Keep the backswing short. Prepare for a pushing or lifting motion rather than a full swing.


  1. Contact

Make contact with the ball slightly in front of your body with an open paddle face. Use a gentle touch to achieve the desired height and depth.


  1. The Follow-through

Follow through smoothly with a controlled upward motion, extending your arm and paddle.


  1. Recovery

Return to the ready position and be prepared to react to your opponent's return.


Common Mistakes to Avoid


Mastering the lob shot goes beyond knowing its benefits and the proper technique. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when incorporating lobs into your pickleball game:


  1. Avoid hitting the ball too flat, as this will result in a low shot that your opponent can easily smash.
  2. Don't telegraph your intention to hit a lob by changing your stance or grip too early, as this will give your opponent time to anticipate and react.
  3. Tempting as it might be, do not overuse the lob shot, as it can become predictable and less effective if your opponents begin to expect it.

When to Use a Pickleball Lob Shot


The lob shot can be used strategically and at certain moments in the game. Here are some situations in which the lob shot can be useful:


  1. Breaking Opponents' Momentum

If your opponents are on a roll and aggressively attacking the net, a well-executed lob can catch them off-guard, forcing them to retreat and disrupting their rhythm.


  1. Regaining Court Position

When you find yourself out of position or your opponents have you on the defensive, a lob shot can give you the time and opportunity to recover and re-establish your position on the court.


  1. Targeting Weak Overheads

If you notice that your opponent struggles with overhead shots, use the lob as a weapon to exploit their weakness.


A caveat: while the lob shot can be effective, it comes with risks when poorly executed or used too often. For instance, if it’s too low or short, it gives your opponent an easy opportunity to smash the ball, causing you to lose the point. And, if you use the lob shot too often, it can make you predictable, allowing your opponents to anticipate the shot and respond appropriately.


So, when executing lobs, make sure to use the correct technique and use them sparingly when the occasion calls for them. 


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Armed with a new shot to include in your pickleball arsenal, you’re now set to conquer the court! Make sure you're ready to move with confidence and comfort while showcasing your newfound lobbing skills. 


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