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The Lob and Smash
by Clark Corey
PBI Director of Tennis Kapalua
USPTA Tennis Professional

A player can either play tennis from the baseline or from the net so there needs to be an understanding of what may happen when you rush the net to win the point.

First, you may have the opportunity to hit a volley from in the ideal situation as you have hit a very good shot and followed up by going to the Ideal Volley Position. Being in the IVP will allow you to put your opponent in trouble with a volley thereby winning the point. However, your opponent may see you coming to the net and feel the pressure you are applying. That may result in them doing something other than hitting the ball to you.

Second, you may find yourself having to deal with your opponent hitting a shot called the Lob. A Lob is a ground stroke done from the baseline that has a very high arc. The purpose of the shot is to move the opponent away from the net and into a more defensive position at the baseline. This is accomplished by hitting a high, deep ball.

The Lob is produced by opening the racquet face and creating a normal groundstroke that finishes head high. The lifting motion along with the open face produces the high, deep result. Realize; however, that in most cases the Lob is hit when the player is in a defensive situation. This means the player would take a small backswing in order to control the contact point and thus the ball.

The counter shot to the Lob is the Smash. The Smash is an offensive shot that is hit similar to the serve. The first part of preparation is to be aware of your opponent and see if they are going to hit the Lob in the first place. Once you are aware that your opponent is hitting the lob then you need to prepare accordingly.

Preparation starts by turning sideways to the net similar to the serving stance. For right handed players that would mean turning so your left side is facing the net. Next, your left arm/hand should point upwards to track the ball. At the same time the right arm moves up into the "ready to hit" position. This is normally called the backscratch position. From this position the player should reach up with their right arm and "snap" their wrist just like the serve. This will allow the ball to be hit down into the court. If the player hits up first, like the serve, the smash will end up going long.

Most people feel the Smash should be hit very hard as it is an offensive shot. The key to the smash is not how hard it is hit but where it is hit. Use the wrist to direct the ball away from your opponent rather than trying to hit it hard. The offensive part of the shot will be the direction not the speed.

In summary, you want to put pressure on your opponent by coming up to the net. Don't forget to keep your eye on your opponent in case they decide to Lob. If they do Lob you now have a counter by using the Smash. Good Luck.


Tips Archive

Getting Started

Three Fundamentals of Tennis

The Foundations

Serve and Return
Forehand and Backhand
The Volley
The Lob and Smash
Keep Your Opponents Off-Balance with Backspin
Give Balance Priority