In my last column titled “Learn to Turn,” I discussed the physical aspects of executing an overhead. An important part of the formula of being able to hit an overhead is understanding lobs. Fundamentally speaking, there are two types of lobs, defensive and offensive.
In tennis, most lobs are executed from the baseline, but in pickleball, lobs can be executed virtually from any position on the court. Understanding the difference between an offensive lob and a defensive lob can help us to effectively and efficiently execute a solid and confident overhead.
An offensive lob is a shot I am hitting as a winner. A defensive lob is a shot I am utilizing as an attempt to get myself out of a tight spot and regain some type of neutral or offense position. An offensive lob should have a flatter trajectory and apex in its flight path, giving my opponents less time to react and execute their overhead. A defensive lob should have a higher trajectory and apex of its flight path providing me more time to recover before my opponents strike their overhead. Either way, early anticipation and detection of our opponents throwing a lob up is the key to being able to hit a good overhead.
When we are engaged in a point, we should be constantly analyzing our current shot, our opponents’ next shot, and anticipating as many shots ahead as possible (Refer to my column “One Step Ahead.” September 1, 2020).
A defensive lob coming from my opponent should be easy to detect because it’s a shot that they are being forced to hit from a defensive position which my previous shot/shots have put them in. An offensive lob can be harder to detect because it is a shot that they are choosing to hit as an aggressive strategy against me.
Having a good understanding of lobs will allow you to be more aggressive with your overheads when dealing with a defensive lob and less vulnerable when having to deal with offensive lobs.
Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by or by phone or text at 239-450-6161