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The lob is one of the most underestimated and underused shots in tennis. Few players, even at experienced levels, appreciate its full effectiveness. They seldom practice it and, as a result, they’re almost afraid to use it during competitive play. That’s a shame because the lob can be a valuable tool in many different situations in a match and it isn’t a tough shot to hit. Here are a few of the situations that may present themselves during the course of a match.

1 “When you’re out of position”

For the average player, the most important time to use to lob is when you are pulled out of position and you need a shot that will give you time to recover and get back into the point. For example, say that a player hits a shot sharply with a lot of angle that pulls you completely off the court. You can make the best of the situation by returning the shot with a lob that’s high and deep. The height will give you time to hustle back to the center of the baseline and the depth will keep your opponent back on the baseline. So when you’re out of position, hit a lob that’s high and deep – and preferably crosscourt to give yourself more court to work with.

2 “Discouraging the net rusher”

Another excellent time to use a lob is when you’re facing an opponent who constantly charges the net – particularly if he’s hard to pass with shots to the side of him. Send up a lob that will clear the top of his outstretched racquet and drop behind him. The lob should go deep, but it won’t necessarily need the height required when you’re just trying to stay in the point. And who knows, if you surprise your opponent, your shot may even be a winner.

3 “Tiring out your opponent”

Truly, hitting a lot of overheads can wear a player down. So, if you figure that you’re in for a long, closely-fought match, you can tire your opponent by sending up lob after lob. That will force him to chase down the ball and hit overheads. Even if he recognizes your ploy and returns your lobs with ground strokes, he will still get weary. That’s because a ball that drops as steeply as a lob has no pace or forward momentum on it and has to be hit hard for an effective return. So you can use your lob to tire your opponent even when he or she’s playing most of the points from the baseline.

4 “Disguise”
Keep in mind that most players never expect a lob out of the blue. Also keep in mind that a lob is basically a ground stroke and that it can easily be disguised. So prepare as you would a ground stroke and hit your lobs not only the length of the court but high enough in the air to be effective. To disguise your lob, take a full backswing. In fact, take the racquet back with the same motion that you’d use for a normal forehand or backhand ground stroke so that your opponent can’t tell what kind shot you are going to hit until you contact the ball. If you have enough time, turn sideways to the ball, take your racquet all the way back and step toward the ball as you begin your forward swing. Then meet the ball with a slightly tilted racquet head to lift the ball over your opponent’s head.
This lesson is an excerpt from Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids
Available at www.kirkhouse.com/books/bring-your-racquet and Amazon, Borders and other outlets.

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