Strategies For Countering Lobs


The fol­low­ing arti­cle is by guest con­trib­u­tor, Steve Torres. Sur­viv­ing a lob over your partner’s head requires both quick think­ing and a solid plan of action to emerge back in con­trol.

In this les­son you will learn not only how to sur­vive a lob that requires your part­ners’ atten­tion to retrieve, you will learn how to turn the sit­u­a­tion around to retain con­trol of the point.

You have two basic options when your part­ner cov­ers a lob that makes it over your head.

  1. Switch and run like hell for the base­line.
  2. Switch and try to retain your net posi­tion.

If you’re in the habit of head­ing for the base­line and giv­ing away the net, don’t won­der why you are fre­quently vic­tim­ized by lobs! Lobs are the oppo­nents’ way of get­ting rid of your net pres­ence. My sug­ges­tion is that you don’t make it easy for them.

When the net player gets lobbed, the part­ner cov­er­ing the lob has two main options for response

  1. 1. Lob back.
  2. 2. Keep it low.

Lob­bing will sug­gest to their net player that it’s time to vacate the net posi­tion. Keep­ing the ball low will enable the net player to stay in the net zone. Stay­ing in the net zone is preferable.

The key to exe­cut­ing this response rests in your abil­ity to move behind your part­ner and return the lob with a low down the line reply. Keep­ing the ball low reduces the oppo­nents’ power. Hit­ting down the line usu­ally finds the lobber’s feet and requires less switch move­ment from your net player.

Once lobbed, there’s no need to feel fool­ish. Lobs hap­pen. How­ever, if this becomes a habit, wake up and do some­thing about it. The oppo­nent only has three ways to avoid you when you’re in the net posi­tion. They could hit to your left, to your right, or over your head.

Make sure you cover one of them. If it wasn’t the lob you cov­ered, per­haps you were poach­ing because you antic­i­pated a cross-court return. In any case, par­tic­i­pate in the point and your part­ner won’t mind cov­er­ing a few lobs for you.

Once your part­ner has suc­cess­fully returned low and down the line, you go to work as a net player. Find the action. Move out toward the side of the court where the ball is and help cover the mid­dle. If suc­cess­ful, you will end the point with a vol­ley and thwart your opponent’s attempts to get you off the net.


In con­clu­sion, the abil­ity to return a lob with a low down the line reply is not a shot that comes with the racket, balls and sweat­band pack­age. This shot requires prac­tice and, even with prac­tice, it’s dif­fi­cult. How­ever, if you want a plan to turn this sit­u­a­tion around, you and your part­ner can work this play into your book of tricks.

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