What Is a Lob Shot in Pickleball?

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By Jacob Jackson

Mastering the Pickleball Lob Shot: Strategies, Techniques, and Defense

Calling all pickleball fanatics! If you want to up your game and add an exciting new weapon to your arsenal, the pickleball lob shot is the way to go. This high-lofted shot has been making waves in recent years, and it’s time for you to jump on the bandwagon. So, let’s dive in and uncover the secrets of the pickleball lob shot!

What Exactly Is a Lob Shot?

A lob shot in pickleball is a strategic move where you send the ball high and deep over your opponent, forcing them to retreat towards the back of the court. This shot is particularly effective when your opponent is standing near the non-volley zone line, also known as “The Kitchen.”

By making your opponent move away from the non-volley line, you buy yourself valuable time to plan your next move and put your opponent on the defensive. According to USA Pickleball, a lob shot is characterized by a lofted trajectory that sends the ball soaring high overhead and deep into your opponent’s court.


Mastering the Offensive Lob Shot

When it comes to the offensive lob shot, you’ll want to focus on a flatter trajectory compared to the defensive lob. This shot is designed to arc just above your opponent’s reach and land smoothly behind them. It’s a perfect move when your opponent is hanging out at the edge of The Kitchen because they’ll have to scramble backwards to return your shot.

So, how do you execute an offensive lob shot like a pro? It’s all about the technique and strategy. Start with an out-and-up motion, angling your paddle face slightly. Lift the ball upwards while lifting your knees and maintaining a balanced position. Transfer your weight towards your intended target, allowing for adequate distance between you and the contact point. Remember, don’t be tempted to stretch too far to reach the ball as it will result in less control.

One essential tip for successful offensive lob shots is to avoid telegraphing your moves. Surprises work best in the game of pickleball. Keep your opponent guessing by changing your stance when preparing for a lob shot. To hit a drop or a dink shot, maintain bent knees, a compressed body, and keep your paddle in front of you.

When Should You Use an Offensive Lob Shot?

The offensive lob shot is particularly effective when your opponent is expecting a dink shot or is already leaning in. With your well-placed lob, you can catch them off guard and force them to retreat towards the back of the court. Remember, executing an offensive lob is easier when your opponent is closer to The Kitchen, as they will need to move quickly to return your shot.

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Keep a few other factors in mind when deciding whether to use an offensive lob shot. Consider the distance between you and your opponent, as the farther you are from the non-volley zone line, the harder it will be to get the ball over their head. Additionally, take into account environmental elements such as sunlight and wind. Sunlight can make it challenging for your opponent to see and return the lob, while wind can either assist or hinder your lob shot depending on its direction and strength.

Knowing When to Avoid Offensive Lob Shots

While the offensive lob shot can work wonders, there are scenarios where it’s best to opt for a different move. If your opponent is deep in the backcourt, it’s probably not the best time to lob the ball, as they are likely to return it aggressively. In this case, aim to hit the ball back at them instead.

Another situation where offensive lobs may not be the best option is during the third shot, especially when the double bounce rule applies. Attempting a lob shot here can leave you vulnerable to your opponents at the non-volley zone line, where they are strategically positioned to counter your move.

Keep in mind that taller players with long arms can be particularly challenging to beat with lob shots. To overcome this, make sure to curve the ball higher, making it harder for them to reach and smash it overhead. Avoid hitting offensive lobs when you’re in a poor position to execute the shot. Keeping your body low with your paddle in front of the ball will improve your chances of success.


The Defensive Lob Shot: Your Secret Rally-Saver

Picture this: You’re engaged in a heated rally with your opponent, and you find yourself on the defensive. This is where the defensive lob shot comes to the rescue. By launching a high-arcing lob, you can buy yourself some time to reposition and prepare for the next volley.


Defensive lobs have a higher arc compared to offensive lobs, keeping the ball in the air for a longer duration. This buys you valuable time and puts your opponent in a position where they have to decide how to respond, potentially leading to a less aggressive shot like a fast overhead.

Mastering the Defensive Lob Shot

The defensive lob shot differs from the offensive lob shot in two primary ways: the angle at contact and the direction of the follow-through. When executing a defensive lob shot, your paddle’s face should open up more toward the sky. Additionally, your follow-through should rise vertically instead of outward.

To successfully hit a defensive lob shot, avoid flicking your wrist as you would with an offensive lob. Instead, position your pickleball paddle beneath the ball, keeping your body low. Use your knees and weight to guide and lift the ball upwards, ensuring greater control over the shot.

When Should You Use a Defensive Lob Shot?

The defensive lob shot is the ultimate time-buying strategy. When your opponent is dangerously close to the non-volley zone line, launching a well-placed defensive lob can force them back to their baseline, giving you a chance to reposition and switch to a more offensive approach.

Keep in mind that using a defensive lob shot may allow your opponent to respond offensively. To counter this, aim for higher arcs, giving your opponents less time to return aggressively. Additionally, incorporate spin or angled shots into your defensive lobs to make it harder for your opponent’s paddle to reach them.

When it comes to defensive lobs, timing is everything. Avoid taking unnecessary risks and be mindful of your shot placement and power. A poorly executed defensive lob can hand easy points to your opponents. It’s crucial to assess the court, your opponent’s position, and your capabilities before deciding to use a defensive lob shot.

Returning the Lob Shot: Tips for Success

Now that you’ve discovered the art of the lob shot, it’s equally important to know how to effectively return one. Returning a lob shot requires skill and practice, and it’s an essential weapon to have in your pickleball repertoire.

Here are a few tips for successfully returning a lob shot:

  • Position yourself diagonally across from your opponent’s hit, facing the net. This will give you ample time to get into position and allow for an angle when hitting it back.
  • Aim to hit the ball deep into your opponent’s court, ensuring they can’t easily reach it with their paddle. This will force them out of position, giving you an advantage during the point play.
  • Use an open-face paddle grip when hitting the ball back. This will generate more power behind each strike and make it harder for your opponent to recover quickly, potentially leading to another out-of-position shot on their next turn.
  • Experiment with adding spin to your shots. This will provide better control over each hit and surprise opponents who aren’t anticipating such shots.
  • And of course, practice regularly! The more prepared you are, the better equipped you’ll be to execute those tricky lob shot returns during a real game.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I use a lob shot in pickleball?

Offensively, the lob shot works best when your opponent is near the non-volley zone line and isn’t expecting it. It’s also a great move when you need time to reset the point and get into a better defensive position.

How do I defend against lob shots in pickleball?

Defending against lob shots requires anticipation. You can either crush the lob with an overhead shot or run toward the baseline to return it. The key is recognizing when a lob shot is about to be hit and being prepared to counter it.

How do I hit a topspin lob in pickleball?

To hit a topspin lob in pickleball, lift your wrist, elbow, and shoulder together as the paddle contacts the ball. This will generate forward rotation on the ball, making it more challenging for your opponent to return.

Wrapping It Up

If you’re serious about improving your pickleball skills and competing at a higher level, mastering the art of lob shots is an absolute must. With the right techniques and strategies in your toolkit, hitting and responding to lob shots will become second nature.

So, get out on the court, practice those lobs, and watch your game soar to new heights! Remember, consistent practice is the key to becoming a true pickleball lob shot master.

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