Remember last season when you lost a match (you should have won) to those lob queens? Oh wait, that was my doubles partner and me, lol! In our defense, at our level, we don’t play against opponents who offensively lob nearly every ball, so we were a little (a lot) rusty. But these ladies were new to the league, and man, did they take us by surprise! One lobber is tough to contend with, but two?! Yikes!!
Lobbers are the worst type of “pusher.” They have a slow-paced, low-risk strategy involving consistent and constant lobbing, which requires minimal energy and invites over-hitting from the opponent. And somehow, they seem to get their racquet on everything. When you finally face one (or two!), chances are that they’ve been lobbing for a long while and are probably very good at it, so there’s a good chance you won’t out-rally them from the baseline. You need options, which I wish my partner and I had back then.
Yeah… we lost 2-6, 2-6, and it sucked because we really beat ourselves with errors we made from our lack of patience and abundance of frustration. I mean, those chicks got to everything and just kept lobbing and lobbing… uggghhhhhh!
We literally destroyed our own game with frustration.
My partner and I told our coach what happened at our team drill the following Saturday. She had some excellent insight into that game style, along with some great advice on how to turn the table on the “lobsters” and take them out of their comfort zones!
Hit everything to their backhand.
Serves, volleys, groundies, overheads… everything… hit to their backhand. The backhand side is typically the weaker side of all tennis players – unless you’re Serena, lol! Lobbers won’t have nearly as much accuracy or control when hitting from that side, so their lobs (or groundies) will be shorter and easier to return. Targeting their backhand will frustrate the crap out of them, causing them to make more errors.
Use your slice.
Use your slice and keep the ball low. Lobbers need to be able to get under the ball for their lobs. Lobbers prefer letting balls bounce up and then drop down into their wheelhouse, where they can get under it and send it flying. With slice, the ball won’t bounce as high, so they will have to hit it before it starts to drop, which requires timing that lobbers don’t really have.
Bring them in to net.
Chronic lobbers prefer to hang out at or behind the baseline as 99.99% of them don’t like coming in to net. When the opportunity arises, hit a drop shot or short angle and make them come in, and then throw up a topspin lob and make them run. Continuing to do this will take them out of their comfort zone AND wear them out, making their lobs less effective and easier to put away.
Play in no-man’s land.
Yes. Play in no-man’s land. Rather than keeping the lob fest going from behind the baseline, come into the court (about a step or two behind the service line), so you can use your swinging volley or overhead. This will allow you to be more aggressive and take precious time away from your opponent to prepare for your incoming shot. Also, being mid-court will enable you to hit more of an angle and take them off the court. You will also have a better opportunity to hit the ball down at their feet. Even if that player does get the ball back, it will be a low-to-high floater. The opponent will also be flustered by your shot, so hit it at her again. Keep targeting that one player, and she will make the error.
TIP: if you’re returning a really high lob (also called a “moonball”), move back while tracking it with your non-racquet hand. Let it bounce first, and step into it and hit it like you would your serve.
Return the favor.
When all else fails, and if you have a good lob, give them the same high slow ball that they’re giving you. They can do that all day and are counting on you to make the mistakes. Still, if you have patience and are willing (and able) to play the lob game with them, they may get frustrated that their game isn’t working, which could lead them to make the errors. This tactic is very successful when forcing your opponent to run from one back corner to the other and return your lob with an awkward backhand.
Talk to your partner.
This situation is the perfect time to strategize with your partner. Tell your partner you are planning to serve out wide to their backhand so she’ll be ready for the possible poach down the middle. When you are both on the same page, you will be able to conquer the lob queens faster, and with less stress.
Practice, practice, practice!
Every tennis player will eventually encounter a lob queen (or two!) on the court. It could be the only shot they have, or they might not have the stamina to pay any other style. That said, you need to analyze your strengths and decide on a strategy that works best for you, then go out and practice those strategies with your teammates so you can be confident when that match-up occurs.
TIP: While you practice your offensive lobs, your teammates should practice their counter attacks. Then switch, and have your teammates work on their lobs while you perfect your own retaliation moves.
TIP: If your volley is not reliable, practice that as well. You’ll need it to defeat the lobbers, and, well, all opponents, for that matter. If your partner has a decent volley, then always try and use your groundies down the middle to set her up for the volley put-away. In the meantime, work on your volley with your teammates or hitting partner and get it up to snuff.
We all hate lobbers – even the lobbers hate lobbers. Be patient. Don’t let them intimidate and frustrate you. But above all, use these tips to elevate your game while you destroy theirs – and win those matches!