Pickleball Lob Shot | How to Hit a “Perfect” Lob Shot

Lob shots are both offensive and defensive. These shots are hit high in the air, aimed at the baselines, which go over your opponent’s head and land at the back of your opponent’s court. A player can turn the entire course of the game with just one “effective use” of a lob shot. It’s more like a beginner-level shot but must be in a pro’s arsenal as it can be destructive for your opponent. 

So, if you’re new to pickleball, the first thing to catch onto is the pickleball lob shot—of course, after the serve, return, and dink.  

The “Science” of a Lob shot:

A lob shot is one of the initial shots of pickleball and was included in the first-ever pickleball match when the families of Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell invented pickleball on Bainbridge island in 1965. It has always been a part of the game in the early pickleball games, and with time, it has become more and more familiar with strategies and variations. 

So first, what exactly is a lob shot? A lob shot is when a pickleball is hit with a high arc and aimed at the back of the opponent’s court. For example, you received a slow dink, and now you want to send a lob. You’ll take up the ball’s trajectory at a proper height and send it far. For length and distance, consider your opponent and the court area. 

If your opponent is taller, your estimated height should be 6-7 feet so the ball can pass over their head. For the length, consider your position. If you’re at the NVZ, your pickleball must cover at least 26-28 feet to land at the baseline. A lob shot isn’t a power shot, though. Your pickleball must be high and far. That’s it. Whether you want to hit it hard or not that’s secondary. It depends on the lob shot type, i.e., offensive and defensive. And yes, there are two types of lobs. 

Defensive lobs

Defensive lobs

Defensive lobs are simple and basic, intending to keep the ball in play. The primary purpose of a defensive shot is to buy time. You often expect to receive an overhead in return for a defensive shot. When hitting a defensive shot, your paddle surface will face the sky. Defensive lobs can be hit anywhere on the court to buy time. All in all, they aren’t very effective, and these are the lobs people mean when they say, “lob is a beginner’s thing.”

Offensive lobs

Offensive lobs are also more commonly executed lobs. The offensive lob carries a spin and is aimed at taking your opponent at the back. These are unplayable shorts. The entire motive of a lob shot is to send the ball high enough that it makes your opponent run backward and lose a point. This is when your opponent expects a dink, and you send a lob marinated with topspin on their deep court. Game over!


In spite of the effectiveness of a lob shot, keep in mind that a lob shot isn’t something you can often use. Treat it as sacred–a limited lifeline or a one-time shot. You’ve to be extremely careful and make sure your lob shot turns out to be a winning shot for you. A poor lob shot will give away your position and make you lose points. This drives us to a big concern: how to hit a perfect lob shot and the best time to hit it. So, let’s move forward…

How to hit a lob shot:

A lob shot isn’t a simple putaway that you aim high and send the ball farther. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. Lob shots can end up “real bad” if you aren’t good with your strategy, position, and pace. 


To hit a lob shot, position yourself at the kitchen line. Your head and chest should be upward. If you’re playing doubles, keep your partner at the baseline. This is because if the opponent could play the shot, they’ll most likely send you an overhead. In any case, one of your partners should be there to retreat the shot. Otherwise, you both will miss it. 

Aim at the opponent’s non-paddle shoulder through the baseline

Okay, so what was the purpose of a lob shot? You’re right. To make the opponents miss the shot. And how you’ll do it? No, no, no, you won’t cheat. You’ll aim at the opponent’s non-paddle shoulder, so he’ll unable to return it. This will lead them to march backward and lose their position. If you send the ball directly at their paddle with a short distance, this is going to cost you your entire career if you are a pro player. 

Disguise a dink swing:

When hitting a lob shot, your opponent shouldn’t know that they’re going to receive a lob shot. The more unpredictable your lob shot, the better it’ll be. Keep your paddle open to the sky and make it look like a drop or dink, and at the last second, take the trajectory high and send the ball farther. 

Disguise a dink swing

This will also buy you time to read the opponent’s shot. You’d have planned a lob in your mind, but what if you received a volley? Too hard to lob on a volley, though. In this situation, you need to volley lob, which is a hard stroke and can be effective in your favor for the already adapted position. 

Add a topspin

It’s optional but makes your lob lethal and effective. To add a spin, you need to have a firm grip on the ball and your paddle. Now, roll your wrist in collaboration with your shoulder and elbow. 

Hit the ball high

This is your final shot. Hit the ball as high as you can with the spin. Also, make sure you’re not pushing too much pressure on the ball. It’ll cause the ball to end up beyond the baseline. 

When to hit a lob shot:

When to hit a lob shot

On which shot you hit a dink is highly crucial. 


You can’t execute a lob on a hard-stroke volley or drive. It won’t go high or land in the out-of-bounds area. Now, the rally will end, and you’ve already lost the point. So, don’t try too hard. A slow dink is a perfect shot you can play a lob on. The slower the dink, the more lethal your lob will be. 


Where you and your partner is positioned? A lob should always come into play when you and your opponent are at the NVZ. What’s the point of a lob shot when your opponent is already on the baseline? It’ll just serve as a treat for them. They’ll return your lob with a swift stroke with a spin on it. Now, if you were on the NVZ, you’ll lose your position. 

However, you can hit a lob while at your own baseline to buy some time. But this is absurd. Beginners who don’t know any other shots do this to reach the NVZ. We suggest learning and executing a drop shot when you want to march at the NVZ from the baseline. 

You can also hit a lob shot when you’re in the transition area, but that’s a rare-case scenario. Players are hardly in the transition area–it’s a No-Man’s Land.

Weather condition:

Weather also counts in executing successful and failed lobs. If the wind flows behind your back, it’ll take the pickleball with it, making it hard for the ball to land in the baseline. If the wind goes in the same direction as your ball, it can be magical for you. You don’t need much effort to send the ball farther. The wind will take the ball itself.      

Tips for hitting a perfect lob shot

  • Add a lob drill to your regular pickleball practice.

There’s no actual science in a “perfect” lob shot. You just need to practice the lob shot as much as you can. The Survivor is the best drill to add to your arsenal when doing pickleball drills

  • Hit the lob on the weaker partner.

Analyze which one of the opponents has the weaker “footwork” or which one doesn’t play much more competently. This partner is your target. 

  • Hit the lob shot when the player is moving forward.

Look closely and see if the opponents are stacking or coming forward to the NVZ. One of the best times to play the lob shot is when you and your opponent are dinking each other back-to-back, and now you know your opponent is well-settled and his body is flexibly entering the kitchen zone. This is your time to hit a lob. 

  • Always lob with a forehand grip.

Because you’ve to follow a similar motion as dink and drop, a backhand grip is a poor choice. A backhand grip will only put your wrist at stake when you lift up your arm for a high arc. That’s why a forehand grip will give you more edge in disguising your shot and making it effortless.  

Did you know you can lob for the entire rally?

Yes—and before you go screaming that we said lob should be used limitedly, hear us. Professional pickleball players don’t have lob shots in their arsenal often. They either play volleys or drive and might surprise you with dink. However, test your opponents first. If they’re taller, go with the dink only. Don’t even think of a lob shot. They’ll bite you with the unplayable lob return. 

The entire lob strategy is about being unpredictable. Stand at the kitchen line and dominate them with back-to-back lobs. It’ll make them lose points. However, this won’t always work with everyone. You can use this strategy if you want to pin your opponent at the baseline and you’re 100% confident on your lob shots. 

Otherwise, you can intermix the lob with volleys and dink, position yourself at the transition area (for unpredictability), and play your shots from there. The only way you can win from a pro player is to let him think he’s winning and you’re making dumb choices. Once he buys it, the game is all yours! 

The bottom line

Conclusively, the lob is a beginner-level shot with a rally-winning benefit. In professional terms, the pickleball lob shot is all about making the shot unpredictable enough that your opponent misses the point. This is an unattackable shot and requires fair practice to execute it. Although there are both defensive and offensive lob shots, the latter one is the man you’re looking for. By the way, defensive lobs aren’t void. You can try them sometimes if you like! 

At this point, you need one more thing, that is, “how to return a lob shot.” don’t worry we’ve already done the job for you! Don’t go ahead before you read that one too. Have a nice day!

Robby Anderson

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