How to Do a Lob Shot in Tennis

The lob in tennis is one of the hardest shots to master and is usually one that only the more experienced tennis players will achieve when playing someone of good tennis ability. There are two types of lobs – an offensive lob and a defensive lob. The offensive lob is where you are trying to outwit your opponent and score the point, whereas the defensive lob is more about pushing your opponent further back on the court.

Offensive Lob

To give an overview of what is involved in delivering an offensive lob – it is where the opponent is at the front of the court and you hit the ball over them so they cannot reach the ball. It is extremely difficult for a player to return a lob because they will have to cover a lot of ground to get to the ball and running backwards is much harder than going forwards to return a ball.

The offensive lob is best executed when you have enticed your opponent to the front of the court with a dropshot, making it harder for them to get to your ball placed deep in the back of the court. The change of direction slows them down and it is very hard to return the ball if you are facing the other way (towards the back of their own side of the court).

To be able to hit the ball upwards and to the back of the court against a good opponent, you need to get a descent amount of topspin on the ball. This ensures that it bounces quickly out of the court rather than just hitting the ball so it bounces high in the air and then it giving the opponent lots of time to react to the shot and then send it back.

You need to assess the right time to play an offensive lob, to make sure that the opponent is not able to simply smash the ball if you get it wrong. The best time to execute it is when they have just struggled to get to the net and will not have much time to readjust their feet to get to the back of the court.

When you are playing an offensive lob, your arm will be bent and the angle of the racquet should be steep and you play it like a forehand but drive up the back of the ball to get the topspin onto the ball.

The offensive lob is well used in doubles matches, as it is more difficult to find an area of the court that the two players will not be easily covering.

Defensive Lob

This type of shot is used when you are in a bit of trouble and you are short on options, so you lob the ball high and long in order to push your opponent back and to buy a bit more time. This type of shot is more likely to be made whilst you are stretching to reach the ball so your arm will be straight and you will probably not be able to get much power into the shot given your limited time. So you are simply hitting the ball towards the back of the court to make the opponent move backwards for the ball.

Once mastered, the lob is a very important tennis shot that can earn you a great deal of points. The better you get at putting a topspin (or even backspin on the ball when appropriate), the greater the chance of your lobs not getting returned by your opponent. So spend a lot of time in practice trying to improve this shot. To practice, ask a training partner to stand at the net with their racquet stretched above their head. Try and hit the ball so it is going over their racquet, using topspin so that it comes down in time to be in.

One of the reasons that the lob is such a good shot to play is that it is quite easy to disguise that you are playing that shot as your opponent will not realise until late on that you have applied topspin on the ball and will therefore be expecting it to land in a different place.


The Pros and Cons of Tennis

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to take up tennis, the most important question should always be whether or not you enjoy the game. Tennis is fast-paced, exciting and surprisingly cerebral; it’s almost as much about understanding your opponent and staying mentally strong as it about physical skill. If dashing about the tennis court with a racket in your hand, whilst squaring off one-on-one against another player, sounds like a great way to pass the time, then tennis might well be the sport for you.

That being said, here are some other factors to consider:

Pro: Exercise

First off, tennis is just great exercise. As well as practising your hand-eye coordination, and giving yourself a good muscular workout with all those heavy swings, tennis is characterised by short periods of waiting followed by intense bursts of vigorous exercise as you sprint across the court. That’s going to keep you fit and burn a lot of calories at the same time; think of it as gamified interval training.

Most studies now agree that everyone ought to be doing some sort of exercise to raise their heart rates at least once a week, and scientists at Harvard established that just a few hours of tennis can increase your life-span. If you’re not currently involved in any sport at all, tennis is a great choice.

Con: Health Risks

Of course, any exercise comes with health risks and tennis is no different. There are obvious risk factors to take into account when performing any activity that requires you to dash about on a hard surface: you could sprain your ankle or fall and cut yourself, just as with any number of activities such as jogging or football.

There are a few specific risks associated with tennis, too. More than a lot of other sports, Tennis is extremely repetitive alongside being physically demanding. You will be repeating motions like serving or your forehand swing dozens, potentially hundreds, of times every match, with the aim to be as consistent and perfect as possible. Tennis players are therefore prone to a number of respective strain injuries, such as tennis elbow or plantar fasciitis.

If you have any chronic issues with physical activity or joint pain, it would be wise to consult your doctor to make sure that tennis is the best sport for you.

Buying the right tennis racket can really help with these potential problems, but that leads us to…

Pro: Mental Benefits

The health benefits of tennis aren’t limited to just the physical. Dr John Murray, a sports psychologist, has identified a whole raft of mental benefits that are associated with playing tennis. There are a variety of possible reasons for this: sport, in general, is known to release endorphins, which can help elevate your mood, whilst the exercise improves an individual’s body image and increases various positive associations. Tennis, in particular, is a very psychological game, and squaring off regularly and assertively against an opponent may well lead to improved feelings of autonomy, confidence and self-esteem.

Con: Costs

Unlike five a side football or a pickup basketball game, tennis has quite a few associated costs. An amateur player doesn’t need professional gear, but a cheap racket will definitely hold back your performance. If you’re particularly concerned about mitigating the risk of injury and are looking for a good pair of tennis shoes and a racket with a high-quality shock-absorbing handle, it’s very easy to find that you’ve sunk hundreds of pounds into equipment and clothes before you even step foot on the court.

You also need to think about where you’re going to play because you can’t organise a quick tennis match on a field in the same way that you might set up a knock-about game of football. A lot of parks or community sports centres will have tennis courts, and not all of them require you to pay, but free courts can sometimes be poorly maintained. A real tennis enthusiast may want to join a tennis club and membership can be pricey. The costs here aren’t as excessive as a sport like golf, but they can still be significant.

Tennis, perhaps more than other games, also really benefits from coaching. Any tennis player is only really as good as his or her service game, and that’s a really hard skill to practice by yourself. If you’re looking to get into tennis as an adult, and you’re a complete novice, then it would be a great idea to look into group lessons or one on one coaching.

Pro: Social Benefits

Playing tennis will get you out of the house and, by its very nature, acting with at least one other person (and you’re not going to want to play the same person forever). You can socialise with your friends, if they like tennis too, join a tennis club, or get involved in local group classes and make new friends. If you enjoy playing the odd doubles match, then you’re even practising your coordination and teamwork.

Con: Social Drawbacks

Whilst the apparatus around tennis can be quite social if you have a local club or class to join, it’s also quite an isolated game. There are only two players at a time, and your opponent stands several metres away from you for most of the match, trying desperately to beat and out-think you. You’re never going to get the feeling of social inclusion from tennis that you might feel with a team sport like football, cricket or rowing. Playing a lot of tennis involves spending an awful lot of time inside your own head, and you’ll need to enjoy that.

Tennis: Yes or No?

Tennis is a classic game, with a long history, enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Like any sport, it can have its drawbacks, but if you find it appealing to you, the best thing that you can do is jump onto a court and have a go for yourself!


How to Play Tennis for Beginners

When you’re unsure what you’re doing, tennis can be a tricky sport. However, as soon as you know the basics, it becomes a fast-paced, exciting game that you’ll want to play for hours upon hours.

When playing tennis, you’re always improving. Even Andy Murray improves his technique from game to game. To speed up the learning process and advance your skills, you may want to consider finding a tennis coach. However, having tennis lessons is not crucial to your play.

With time and dedication, including time spent in the gym to keep fit when you’re off the court, it won’t take long for you to learn how to play tennis to a moderate standard. If you have your eye on professional play and tournaments, you should get a coach.

For budding tennis hobbyists, our tips for how to play tennis provide everything you need to begin.

How to Score

As soon as you know how to score a tennis match, you can start practicing your style of play.

When announcing the score, the server’s score is always said first. For example, if the server has one point and their opponent has none, the score is 15-love. In tennis, ‘love’ means zero.

The scoring system is structured as followed:

  • Love: Equal to zero
  • 15: Equal to one point
  • 30: Equal to two points
  • 40: Equal to three points
  • Deuce: Both players have four points (40)
  • Advantage: One player needs just one more point to win
  • Match Point: The point that wins the match when a player is at ‘Advantage’

If a player is at advantage and their opponent wins a point, they return to deuce and play on.

When choosing how many matches to play to a game, you can choose to play to the best of three or the best of five.

Read: How To Keep Score In Tennis

Navigating the Court

A standard tennis court measures 78ft x 27ft and is split down the middle by a court-wide net, but it can feel much bigger or, in some cases, smaller when you’re in play. That’s why it’s crucial to know how to navigate the court.

Either end of the court has white baselines, from which you serve. These lines are also used as ‘out of bounds’ lines, which means, if the ball lands outside them, the person playing the shot loses the point. The same lines appear at the side of the court. Also, at the side of the court are the lines that dictate the type of game you’re playing; if you’re playing a single tennis match, you should use the lines on the inside whereas the lines on the outside should be used for doubles play, to create a wider court.

When playing tennis, often, one of the best ways to improve your technique is to get your opponent moving around the court. By being unpredictable with your style of play, you’ll make it difficult for your opponent to keep up. If you’re constantly making your opponent move from the back of the court to the front and vice-versa, they’ll tire quickly.

The Guardian’s diagram and explanation of the markings of a tennis court is an excellent reference point for further information about navigating a tennis court.

Singles Matches

Playing singles and doubles tennis has some specific differences that you must know beforehand.

In a singles match, there are just two opponents; one of either side of the net. The game, and every point, starts with a serve, which is take from behind the baseline (the furthest line at the back of the court). You must serve the ball diagonally, so it lands in the left-hand service court opposite.

The service court is marked by a white line just over half way on either side of the court. Once the serve has been made, play continues until one player fails to hit the ball back or the ball lands out of bounds, in which case the opponent that played the ball will lose the point. You then continue to play until you reach match point.

The person that wins the match point wins the match. The first person to win three or five matches, depending on what you’ve agreed, wins the game.

At the end of the first game and then every-other game (odd-numbered games), the players switch ends of the court.

Doubles Matches

Playing doubles matches is a little more complicated, predominately because you must navigate your gameplay with your tennis partner in a way that works strategically. However, the rules of doubles tennis are almost the same as singles.

When playing doubles, there are two players on either side of the court that work in unison. The two players and teams take it in turn to serve. For example, if players A and B are on a team and players C and D are on a team, player A would serve first, player C second, player B third, and player D fourth. It’s that simple.

Like singles tennis, at the end of the first game and then every odd-numbered game thereafter, the players switch ends of the court.

Read: Tips for Playing Doubles Tennis

How to Serve

When learning how to play tennis, learning to serve properly is crucial as it can make or break a game.

Right-handed players: stand sideways with both feet apart, just behind the baseline. Hold the ball in your left hand and throw the ball straight upwards. The ball should be tossed around one foot in front of your left foot and approximately 40cm in the air, so it’s within reaching distance without too much strain. Then, move your racket back to get some force behind it, and swing it towards the ball. Your racket arm should be straight when it meets the ball. You should aim to hit the tennis ball when it’s at its highest point, moving your body weight from your back foot to your front foot as you do so, to give you enough force for a powerful serving shot. You must aim to strike the ball from just above, towards your opponent’s court. When serving, follow through with your racket, so you complete a full swing.

Left-handed players: You must do the same as detailed for right-handed players but reverse the directions.

It is a good idea to practice serving by yourself, without any competition, until you get your swing right. To practice, visit your local tennis court, or mark out an area in your garden, and hit one ball after another, and then repeat.

Read: How To Serve In Tennis: The 6 Steps

Remember, as soon as you’ve served the ball, you need to get into position and be ready to receive the returned ball. There are a variety of shots you can use throughout gameplay, including groundstrokes, which is when you strike the ball after it has bounced once. When striking the ball, you must consider whether to use a forehand or a backhand stroke, which will alter the force of the ball. To learn the difference between strokes, explore ATG’s quick video tutorial.

Choosing your Equipment

When choosing your tennis equipment, right down to your clothes, there are a variety of considerations to be made.

Firstly, it’s essential you have a good tennis grip, which will help you to grasp the racket and prevent blistering on your palm. Try a variety of grips to find one that works for you.

When selecting your tennis clothes, like any other sport, you should wear clothes that are comfortable, loose-fitting, and breathable, to keep you cool and help wick away sweat during gameplay. Choose tennis shorts with an elasticated waist and a top with vents under the arms and on the back; these will help to keep you dry throughout the game.

When choosing tennis shoes, you should purchase shoes with a distinct arch, to prevent problems with flat feet, and with a heavily cushioned sole and mesh upper. Combined, these features will ensure you are comfortable, dry, and blister-free.

For both men and women, when playing tennis, underwear is an important consideration. You should wear supportive sports underwear that holds everything in place, therefore preventing injury with excessive game play.

There are hundreds of tennis rackets, tennis balls and racket strings on the market, each suited to different levels of skill. Some of the best tennis brands in 2019 include Wilson, Head, Prince, and Yonex, all of which have equipment varying in price for all types of players. As a novice you should choose a racket that is best for beginners.

In Summary

With practice, tennis is a rewarding, thrilling sport that will get you moving while relying on strategy. Spend as much time as you can on the court, get the right equipment, and try different types of gameplay; both singles and doubles. Over time, you’ll find your preference. If you want to become a professional, seek a qualified tennis coach near you (UK) or search for one in the US.