Selkirk Sport - We Are Pickleball


How to defend the pickleball lob shot — Tips for senior success

By Steve Paranto

on Jul 02, 2024


Senior pickleball player Steve Paranto shows the proper way to return a pickleball lob shot by turning his body parallel to the sideline on an indoor pickleball court.

One of the most effective ways to win a point in games among senior players is to lob the ball over your opponent. This is because many senior players cannot get to the baseline quickly enough to return a lob shot. 

And while this shot can be fun to execute, it’s certainly no fun to receive. 

In a new Selkirk Pickleball TV series, “Senior Success,” senior professional pickleball player Steve Paranto shares tips for seniors who play pickleball. In this episode, Steve shares tips for defending the pickleball lob as a senior. 

What is a lob shot? 

A lob shot is a high-arcing shot that typically travels over your opponent and lands near the baseline of the court. It can be useful to help stop an aggressive attack at the kitchen or break up a long dinking pattern. 

Safety concerns associated with the pickleball lob shot

As will any sport, player safety is a primary concern. It’s important to note that the lob shot is responsible for a majority of pickleball injuries, particularly among the senior population. 

When the lob shot is executed, the first action many players take is to quickly look up at the ball. Although this seems a simple action, the quick motion can cause many players to become disoriented, particularly if they are outside. 

Next, players often begin to backpedal to get into position for the lob. As they’re already disoriented, many players will catch their heels while backpedaling, causing them to fall. 

Players will then naturally stick out their hands to catch their fall, which leads to many wrist injuries. Some players don’t have enough time to catch themselves, leading to more serious injuries and longer recovery times. 

Tips to avoid injury when returning a lob

With the proper technique, players do not need to fear the lob shot. Consider these tips the next time your opponent lobs the ball over you: 

  • Turn your body sideways. If you plan to hit the lob out of the air, do not backpedal. Instead, turn your body parallel to the sideline so you can take a lateral step rather than a backward step. 
  • Take a proactive step. If you hit a dink that you know your opponent can easily lob, take a proactive step away from the kitchen line. Rather than resetting to your normal spot at the kitchen, move one step back from the line. This minor adjustment makes it much harder for your opponent to lob the ball successfully. 
  • Communicate early. A well-placed lob may make it hard to determine who should receive the ball. To avoid last-minute scrambling and court collisions, call the ball clearly and as early as possible. 
  • Turn and run. By now, you know not to backpedal to receive the lob. But it’s also important to not stare at the ball as you run. Once you see the arc of the ball, you will know the general direction in which it will land. Turn your back to the net and run. Once there, turn back toward the net to receive the ball. 
  • Buy time. You need to buy time at the front and back end of the lob shot. When the ball is in the air, call it as soon as possible so your partner knows to chase it down or stay at the kitchen line. Once you chase the ball down, do not hit a hard groundstroke back. Consider a drop shot or a lob shot to buy enough time to advance back to the net. 

  • Download the Selkirk Pickleball TV app HERE to watch the complete episode and many other Selkirk TV original shows, podcasts, lesson series from the pros, and much more. 

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