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Pickleball Third Shot Lob

by Pickleball Superstore February 05, 2023

Pickleball Third Shot Lob - tips and strategies by Pickleball Superstore

We’ve all heard about the third shot drop and the third shot drive, but what about the third shot lob? It is a shot not often utilized on the pickleball court, especially as a third shot. It needs to be in your pickleball skill arsenal however.

What is a Pickleball Lob?

A lob is a ball that is hit in a high arc to the back of the opponent’s court. Essentially, you want to hit this ball high over the net, over your opponents’ heads and away from their paddles. Landing the ball about 1-3 feet away from the baseline on your opponent’s side of the court.

Once you enter into the pickleball 3.5 skill level or above, focus on honing your lob to be over your opponents non-paddle shoulder. For a right handed player, hit the pickleball lob shot over their let shoulder to be the most effective.

REMEMBER: if you hit a lob shot shorter than desired, you’ve just set your opponent up with a great chance at an overhead smash shot. These can be frustrating shots and are hard to defend – you’re going to experience this until you master this shot.

There are Two Types of Pickleball Lobs:

  1. Defensive Lob – this shot is typically hit when you are in a difficult position or on the run. The hope is to reset the point and get yourself back in a good neutral court position.
  2. Offensive Lob – this shot has a flatter trajectory that is out of reach. It is a great change of pace to throw in when your opponents least expect it. It’s also a great shot when the sun is in your opponent’s eyes (not always nice to do, but can be very effective!).

Since the defensive lob is mostly a reactive shot, we will focus on the offensive lob when answering the question of when it’s a good idea to use or not.

When to Hit a Third Shot Lob?

  • If you notice your opponent moving forward towards the non-volley zone (NVZ) very fast, use the lob. Their momentum will be too far forward for them to back track and hit a well-hit lob (one that is hit high and lands deep in the court).
  • Since the lob isn’t often used in pickleball, it will catch your opponents off guard. It’s a great change of pace shot and once hit, it will let your opponents know that you have that shot in your skill set.
  • You will be unpredictable if you can consistently hit a good offensive lob. It will create hesitation in your opponents since they will be worried you might hit over their heads if they come into the net.
  • Utilize the lob if you notice that your opponents have weak overheads or mobility.
  • When you notice that your opponents are off balance, or not communicating well with one another.

When to NOT Hit a Third Shot Lob?

  • A lob can be a low percentage shot because of its difficultly to execute.
  • If you hit the lob too low, you risk being punished by overhead smashes.
  • If you hit the lob too low, you risk giving your opponent a put away shot.
  • Overusing the third shot lob risks you becoming too predictable.

Remember to practice your lobs before using them in a high-stakes match. It can be risky to use a lob, but if you use them strategically and pick a good moment, like those listed above, they can and will work in your favor.

Pickleball Superstore
Pickleball Superstore