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.
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.