Selkirk Sport - We Are Pickleball


When and how to use the pickleball lob shot

By Daniel J Howard

on May 02, 2024


Instructor Daniel J Howard stands on one side of a pickleball court with his paddle outstretched. He is demonstrating how to hit a lob to a woman on the other side of the court.

We’ve all been there — you’re in trouble, scrambling around the court trying to dig every ball your opponent slams over the net. So, out of desperation, you attempt a lob, only to have it crushed back at you. 

Most players only utilize the lob in times of trouble, when they’re hoping to get back to the kitchen line and regain control of a point. But the truth is, lobs can be an effective offensive strategy when performed correctly. 

They are a great way to relieve pressure in long dinking rallies at the kitchen and they also test your opponent’s athleticism. 

What is a lob shot? 

A lob in pickleball is a shot that is hit softly but high in the air. The ball should sail over your opponent’s head and land near the baseline of the court. 

Doing so gives you and your partner time and space to either get to the kitchen line or set up your next attack. 

When to use a lob shot

Because it forces your opponents to back off the kitchen line, the lob shot is most frequently used when players are the defensive and are trying to work their way to the non-volley zone. 

However, the lob can also be used when both teams are at the kitchen line. Using the lob in this way is an offensive strategy that can catch your opponent off guard, causing errors. 

In either scenario, your opponent will be forced backward on the court, allowing you and your partner time to set up your next attack. 

Downsides to the lob

Lob shots leave you with a low margin of error, meaning you must execute the shot perfectly for it to be effective. 

If you hit the ball too soft, your opponent will be able to volley the ball back at you, often ending the rally in their favor. If you hit the ball too hard, it may sail off the back of the court. 

How to execute the lob shot

The motion of a lob shot is very similar to the motion used for a dink. You should hold your paddle with a soft grip and lift the ball from below, pushing through your shoulder, not your wrist. 

However, to get the extra height that a lob requires, you should push through your legs as you make contact with the ball. Start in a squat position and as you push through your shoulder, stand up. 

Aim your lob over your opponent’s non-dominant shoulder. This way, even if the lob is a little short, your opponent will have a hard time reaching it. Of course, if one player is significantly shorter than the other, they would be the better target for your lob. 

How to improve your lob

Grab your drilling partner and head to the kitchen line on opposite sides of the net. Begin dinking back and forth but look for a good opportunity to lob — typically when your partner hit a shallow dink and has their eyesight fully focused on the ground. 

Execute your lob but play out the point as normal. If you hit a bad lob, your drilling partner should hit a volley back to you. If you hit a good lob, your drilling partner can attempt to play it. 

It’s important to note that you should never backpedal when attempting to field a lob shot as it can lead to falls and injuries. Instead, perform a drop step to turn toward the baseline and run toward the ball. If you can’t safely retrieve the ball, let it go — don’t risk an injury for one point. 

Download the Selkirk 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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