The perfect pickleball lob to frustrate your opponents

Learn more about the goal of the pickleball lob, the mechanics of how to hit it, WHEN to hit it, and how to disguise your next lob.

Danea Bass & Barrett Bass

lob

04/06/2024

April 6, 2024

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The lob can be one of the most frustrating shots in pickleball, making it fun to dish out but not so fun to receive if executed properly. Learn more about the goal of the lob, the mechanics of how to hit it, and learn a drill that's going to help you practice your lob and frustrate your opponents. 

The goal of the offensive lob

A good time to use the pickleball lob is when it’s difficult to pass through your opponents, so instead you will want to pass over them.

The goal of the lob is to push your opponents off the kitchen line and push them into the baseline. Because the kitchen line is the best, most advantageous place to play, pushing your opponents off the kitchen line will create a disadvantage for them.

When to lob

One of the most important things when it comes to mastering the lob is choosing the right time to lob — knowing when to hit the shot.

  1. You’ll want to make sure that you and your partner are at the kitchen line: the lob is a much more difficult shot to try to hit from the baseline or the transition zone. Although you might hit one out of every 10 at the baseline, the highest percentage time that you will want to lob is when both you and your partner are at the kitchen line.

  2. You’ll want to make sure that the other team is at the kitchen line (the best time to hit the lob is when all four players are at the kitchen line). If you're going to try to lob while your opponent is at their baseline, they can run up and hit an overhead shot back to you more easily — so you’ll want to make sure all four players are at the kitchen line.

  3. The best time to lob is during an extended dink rally to catch your opponents off guard. If you take a big backswing and swing up with a lot of force, your opponent will see the lob coming. Instead, you’ll want to try to disguise the lob.

Types of pickleball lobs

There are 2 main types of lobs:

  • The dink lob: When you and your partner are dinking with your opponents and you take the lob off the bounce and try to hit the ball over your opponent.

  • The volley lob: When you’re in a dinking rally and you have the opportunity to take the ball out of the air.

If you're a beginner pickleball player, hitting the lob by taking the ball off the bounce is going to be much easier to execute than the volley lob.

Start with the dink lob, and once you feel comfortable taking dinks out of the air then eventually you can move on to trying to incorporate the volley lob.

Tips for hitting the lob

Now that you know why and when to hit the lob, here are some tips for actually hitting the lob shot:

Tip #1: Limit your backswing

Work on having little or no backswing on your lob: If you have a big backswing, it’s going to tell your opponent what you're going to do. Part of the lob shot is being discreet, so you will want to work on having a compact and small backswing.

Tip #2: Bend your knees

Bend your knees and get low, and then lift with your legs (and not just swing with your arm). If you're swinging with your arm too much, it's going to create a lot more inconsistency. It's better to use your leg muscles and lift from the ground up. You’ll want to lift the ball and not push the ball forward.

Tip #3: Keep your balance

When working on your pickleball lob, make sure that you're hitting the shot when you're balanced. If you hit a lob and you're off balance it's going to cause errors and pop-ups.

So before you choose to hit a lob, make sure you are balanced and you're ready and you're in position. Hit the ball in the correct contact point zone.

Tip #4: Learn the volley lob

The next tip to take your lob to the next level is learning to take more dinks out of the air. If you're letting every dink bounce, you're going to be stepping back quite a bit and it can be very hard to hit a lob when you're stepping back and off balance. 

If you're taking more balls out of the air, it will set you up for a volley lob, which is more advanced, but it can also be more difficult for your opponent to predict.

Tip #5: Wind

The next thing you will want to consider before you lob during your next pickleball game is to consider the direction and the strength of the wind. If the wind is coming in your direction and you’re attempting to hit a lob, you're going to have to put a lot more energy into the ball.

The opposite is true if the wind is going toward your opponent. In that case, you will want to put a lot less energy on that ball.

Pickleball lobbing drill

The next step to perfecting your pickleball lob is to start practicing with a partner. For the drill, one of the partners will be responsible for lobbing and the other partner is going to retreat.

  1. Start a dink rally with your partner.

  2. You will be the only one who can lob during the first rally (your partner will hit the lob during the next rally). Your partner will know that a lob is coming but has to wait until the lob is hit to react.

  3. When you hit the lob, you’ll want to make sure you’re hitting everything out front. Once you’re balanced and find a good shot, swing with your legs.

  4. Your partner will back up, hit the shot, and then try to work their way back to the kitchen.

  5. The sequence is going to repeat itself after both partners have had a chance to be the one executing the lob.

To follow the full pickleball lob drill, watch the video above.

Pickleball lob game

For the pickleball lobbing game, you will play on half the court.

  1. Both you and your partner can lob whenever you want to. 

  2. You're going to play the point out after at least one lob has been hit.

  3. The number of lobs you execute in a rally is how many points you will earn that rally.

    1. For instance, if you were to hit two lobs in one rally, you'd get two points in that rally. If your opponent hits three lobs, they will get three points in that rally.

  4. You’ll start off by dinking with your opponent, with both of you looking for a good ball.

  5. Once you return a lob, you will want to work your way back up to the line.

  6. You will play each game to seven points.

To follow the full pickleball lob game, watch the video above.

Learning the pickleball lob


The lob can be one of the most frustrating shots in pickleball if you're on the receiving end (and one of the most fun if you execute it correctly). Watch the video above to learn more about why, when, and how to execute the lob as well as the pickleball lobbing drills and game you can practice with a partner.