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Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Lob Does Not Change Your Strategy

Have no fear...

A previous post - Defend the Line - discussed the importance of staying at the NVZ line. Concern about a lob should not change that strategy. Knowledge that lob winners are a rarity and developing the skills to defend lobs, as discussed in yesterday's post, should give players enough confidence to hold the NVZ line. Mark Rennesson discusses this in the following article.

When I introduce the concept of coming to the net as a team, the immediate reaction is almost always: "But what if they lob us?". People are often fearful of the ball being hit over their head and, as a result, they often stay back from the kitchen. But here's the thing... it's actually poor strategy to guard against the lob by hanging back. Here's why:

1) The lob is actually low risk. The next time you're waiting your turn to play, watch another game. Count how many times a lob is hit as a winning shot (i.e. the lob is hit so well that the receiving team cannot touch it). What you are likely to notice is that this number is very low. In many cases, a team will lob the ball out of bands. In others, they will hit the lob short giving the receiving team a chance to smash the ball. Unreturnable lobs are rare in pickleball.   

2) You're giving up your main advantage. The strength of being at the net is your ability to hit the ball when it's above net level. This means you can hit down on the ball which means you can hit it hard. By hanging back from the kitchen line you make it easier for your opponents to hit the ball at your feet. This is exactly what they want!

So next time you're playing get right up to the kitchen line and look for a high ball. And if you happen to lose the occasional point because of a great lob, don't worry about it. Compared to the number of points you have the chance to with by being up close, it is probably worth the sacrifice.

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