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In Doubles Tennis, Who Covers The Lob Over Your Head?

missed lob in tennis

Strategy & Tactics

In Doubles Tennis, Who Covers The Lob Over Your Head?

Here’s the scenario:

You’re in the one-up, one back formation, and you’re at the net. Your opponent launches a lob in your direction. Who should cover it, you or your partner?

The answer is YOU!

You’ve no doubt heard the popular myth that when delivered a lob, whoever is at the net should immediately move to the other side of the court, and whoever is at the baseline must return the lob. This is only partly true. If you are lobbed at the net, your partner at the baseline should cover the lob ONLY if she realizes you can’t reach it.

Just because it’s a lob, doesn’t mean it’s going automatically to clip the baseline. The fact is that many lobs are rather shallow, so the first reaction of the player being lobbed at the net should be to turn and move back (if necessary), keeping the ball in sight at all times, and make an attempt to hit an overhead. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have watched my teammates play a match, and a lob went up and the net player screamed, “Yours!” as she scuttled to the other side of the court, forcing her opponent to quickly cross over and rush in to the service line in just enough time to get the ball back into play – just one or two steps back from where the net player had been standing. One or two steps – that’s all!

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The next time a lob comes your way, condition yourself to attack! Do NOT immediately cross to the other side and force your partner to cover the lob. Immediately gauge how high and how fast the ball is traveling, and THEN decide whether or not to move back to take the overhead or to cross over. And be sure and use verbal communication like, “Yours!” or “Mine!”, or “Switch!” so that you and your partner are on the same page. The player at the baseline can also call the ball, as she has a better view of the ball dropping. For example, if she sees that the lob is high and will probably drop before or at the service line, she should say (loudly), “Yours!” to her partner at net (if that person hasn’t already started moving into position).

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Crossing over is a bad habit that many players have developed, but it can be broken! Grab a bucket of balls and practice hitting overheads with a teammate lobbing you at the net, and see just how many you can actually get without the pressure of being in a match. The more you do this, the easier it will be to recognize the lobs that are truly yours to return, and get them back.

If you found this post helpful, don’t keep it all to yourself – share it with your tennis friends :-)

4.5 USTA rated/open champion level tennis player, vegan, fitness freak, animal lover, and smart ass who firmly believes that champagne is anathema for all ills. Right now I'm either up to my eyeballs in paint swatches and fabric samples, or kicking some butt on a tennis court (hopefully the latter).

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Karen A Freiman- Fishman

    June 10, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    YES!! WooHOO! This is what my coach Cheryl has taught me!!!!! Really makes a difference during your matches!!!!! The points are not as long!! LOl This is n awesome blog post.. Thank you!

    • Jen

      June 10, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Cheryl sounds like an amazing coach! If I ever make it out that way, I’d love to do a group drill together! It’s great to get different perspectives from different coaches :-)

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