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PushyPushster
11-22-2010, 07:05 AM
Hi - I need some advice about how to deal with a doubles team that has perfected the lob. Over the last season I've been working hard toward improving my net game and can now claim to be Agressively Mediocre. Believe it or not, that's a huge improvement. This last game torpedoed any budding confidence out of the water. Here's how the match played out:

Both opponents could lob high and deep into our backcourt at will. Eventually they would both take the net while one of their balls was returning to Earth from orbit. Neither my partner nor I are good enough to paste an overhead slam from that deep into our backcourt with a high degree of accuracy. In fact, my overhead sucks. Eventually we just decided to lob everything back and play conservative, waiting for our chances. We came close, but no cigar. This is the second team we've faced over the last few seasons that has used this strategy effectively against us (we play 3.5, btw, so our toolbox is limited).

Any suggestions? I'm usually pretty calm while playing tennis, but after this match I wanted to smash my racket into a pile of flinders and set it on fire in the middle of the court.

spot
11-22-2010, 07:16 AM
Get a better overhead? What do you want us to say? They are hitting a ball that doesn't come within 5 feet of the baseline, net, sidelines, or baseline that you guys aren't able to attack. This means that they can hit it over and over and wait for you to make the mistake. The weakness of it is that it opens them up to you hitting overheads either on the fly or after the bounce. Otherwise its you having to hit the ball from well behind the baseline- and unless you can generate a lot of pace on your groundstrokes I really don't recommend trying to attack from there.

But as long as your overhead sucks then teams are going to be able to lob you. The only solution that I can see is to work on improving your overhead. Your opponents are seeing that there is a shot that you can't attack and are hitting it to you over and over. It would be no different if you came on here asking what to do if someone was picking on your backhand all match- improve your backhand.

goober
11-22-2010, 07:27 AM
There is no way around it you have to learn how to hit overheads. It is kind of a right of passage from 3.5 to 4.0 dubs. On the high ones that go deep, let them bounce and hit an overhead from the back court. Don't try to take them out of the air that deep unless it is a well hit topspin lob (not commonly seen at 3.5).

The are other things you can do to cut down on the lob game- good first serve and return of serve that will give you a weak reply that will allow you immediately to go on the offense. Short angles, drop shots are hard to lob off. But the bottom line is you have to practice overheads.

PushyPushster
11-22-2010, 08:08 AM
Get a better overhead? What do you want us to say?

Beats me - if I knew the answer I wouldn't be asking for advice. I just know I don't have a good enough overhead to counter that deep a lob.

It would be no different if you came on here asking what to do if someone was picking on your backhand all match- improve your backhand.

Heck, I guess that would be the easy solution to everything. Having problems facing a guy who's a backboard? Just get more consistent than he is. Having a problem with someone who's got a great drop-shot? Learn to run faster. Got a problem with stamina? Get more stamina.

esgee48
11-22-2010, 08:17 AM
Where were you two positioned when attacking the net? If you were hanging less than 6 feet from the net, then you will be susceptible to lobs (unless you're more than 6 1/2 feet tall.) Check your team's spacing and where you are on the court. Normally, you should be one step past the service line when volleying. That usually limits the space lobbers have to less than 3 feet near the baseline. Usually you should be able to hit hit defensive volleys out of the air from there if they do lob. If they try to hit drives, you should be able to volley from just inside the service line.

Kostas
11-22-2010, 08:19 AM
This is a typical situation where you don't have the requisite skills to employ the appropriate tactic to counter your opponents strategy.

I know you were probably hoping for a silver-bullet/ah-ha moment, but honestly, you just need to practice some more. You need to practice your counter-lob and your overheads to keep them from lobbing.

Just my .02

dafox
11-22-2010, 08:27 AM
Swinging volley and overhead. I like to use the swinging volley on lobbers because it's easier for me to put more pace and have better control. You have to make a committment to practice these shots 15 minutes a day for a few weeks and you will see a difference. Repetition is your friend on perfecting any shot.

atatu
11-22-2010, 08:29 AM
I agree with what has been said so far, but also keep in mind that if you play these guys agains you'll have a better handle on the situation and you'll probably do better. Also, this strategy is not just effective at the 3.5 and below level, there are teams that can win using this strategy at the 4.5 level also.

tennis tom
11-22-2010, 08:48 AM
Meggga dittos on the OH. It's the identical shot to the serve, except you have the luxury of the entire court to hit into, how can you miss?--easily because of the pressure. When you're serving, you control the ball completely. Under the pressure of playing, most players legs turn concreto when faced with hitting an OH and they don't get into correct position with their feet sideways to the ball. They'll miss it with an open stance and a frying pan grip.

Like someone else said, practice, practice, practice--if you can serve and get the ball into the little box than you can get it somewhere into the whole court. It's the pressure and lack of confidence in the shot that's causing the misses--in your head be thinking, it's the same shot as a serve except I need to move my feet a little.

For the OH, use the same grip as you would use for the serve, the continental, and aim for the middle of the court. If you try for too good of a wide shot on the deuce side, it will go wide because of the natural slicing action of the service grip. Don't think you're ready to pronate your forearm to go wide yet to the ad side, stick with aiming to the middle for now. It's the lack of foot-work that causes the misses on the OH for most folks.

jdubbs
11-22-2010, 08:49 AM
When you hit an overhead, make sure your non-hitting arm is raised in the air to track the ball and help you with your timing. Then, it really just becomes almost like the last part of a serve. You don't have to crush it, just hit it hard enough to serve notice that you can.

Another strategy is to hit a nice deep topspin shot and follow it up with another foray into net. Hitting 2 deep lobs in a row is very tough for an opponent.

And work on your overheads!!!

HitItHarder
11-22-2010, 10:13 AM
Meggga dittos on the OH. It's the identical shot to the serve, except you have the luxury of the entire court to hit into, how can you miss?--easily because of the pressure. When you're serving, you control the ball completely. Under the pressure of playing, most players legs turn concreto when faced with hitting an OH and they don't get into correct position with their feet sideways to the ball. They'll miss it with an open stance and a frying pan grip.

Like someone else said, practice, practice, practice--if you can serve and get the ball into the little box than you can get it somewhere into the whole court. It's the pressure and lack of confidence in the shot that's causing the misses--in your head be thinking, it's the same shot as a serve except I need to move my feet a little.

For the OH, use the same grip as you would use for the serve, the continental, and aim for the middle of the court. If you try for too good of a wide shot on the deuce side, it will go wide because of the natural slicing action of the service grip. Don't think you're ready to pronate your forearm to go wide yet to the ad side, stick with aiming to the middle for now. It's the lack of foot-work that causes the misses on the OH for most folks.


I agree with tennis tom and others that have mentioned that setting up for an overhead from the baseline on a high lob with little spin is similar to you setting up for a serve. It all starts with the foot work to get you into position. Get to your spot quickly, let the ball bounce to measure your final contact point and hit it like a serve. You have the whole court to work with, but aim toward the middle until you are more comfortable with the shot. If the ball doesn't get up high enough on the bounce for a serve like stroke, use the swinging volley to try and take time away from your opponet.

A couple buckets of balls and a patient hitting partner would likely have you more comfortable with this shot in just a couple hitting sessions.

polski
11-22-2010, 10:19 AM
Hi - I need some advice about how to deal with a doubles team that has perfected the lob. Over the last season I've been working hard toward improving my net game and can now claim to be Agressively Mediocre. Believe it or not, that's a huge improvement. This last game torpedoed any budding confidence out of the water. Here's how the match played out:

Both opponents could lob high and deep into our backcourt at will. Eventually they would both take the net while one of their balls was returning to Earth from orbit. Neither my partner nor I are good enough to paste an overhead slam from that deep into our backcourt with a high degree of accuracy. In fact, my overhead sucks. Eventually we just decided to lob everything back and play conservative, waiting for our chances. We came close, but no cigar. This is the second team we've faced over the last few seasons that has used this strategy effectively against us (we play 3.5, btw, so our toolbox is limited).

Any suggestions? I'm usually pretty calm while playing tennis, but after this match I wanted to smash my racket into a pile of flinders and set it on fire in the middle of the court.

1) I am trying to picture you & your partner's movement. Were you moving together to chase the lob or just the guy retrieving it? You should be having both players retreat behind the baseline when the lob passes a net player. You likely will play a weaker return shot against a lob than you would against a shot with pace. Don't let the ent guy become a target for their slam.

2) If they are lobbing and charging, you should try to lob back a lot. At the 3.5 level, your lob is probably more accurate than your overhead...even if your lob stinks. They are lobbing you because they are expecting to get weak returns for slams. You should expect the same.

3) Obviously, work on your overheads. In my experience, most overheads are missed by bad footwork at 3.5 level. Position yourself to where the ball will land on your forehead if you miss the swing. And keep your head still. Overheads win a lot of points in doubles.

Fedace
11-22-2010, 10:28 AM
Hi - I need some advice about how to deal with a doubles team that has perfected the lob. Over the last season I've been working hard toward improving my net game and can now claim to be Agressively Mediocre. Believe it or not, that's a huge improvement. This last game torpedoed any budding confidence out of the water. Here's how the match played out:

Any suggestions? I'm usually pretty calm while playing tennis, but after this match I wanted to smash my racket into a pile of flinders and set it on fire in the middle of the court.

If you can improve your volleys, you can improve your over-heads. I CAN help you read the lob if you need that. Overhead is all Mental. there is no reason why you shouldn't have a good overhead. IT is the Easiest shot in the book. Proper technique, anyone can have it. Turn your shoulders as soon as ball goes up, and start pacing back and get racket into hitting position and Easy wrist snap.

Reading Lobs, i expect your opponent doesn't have topspin lobs since they are 3.5's. SLICE lobs are easy to read, piece of cake. Watch or stare at the Racket head face before they make contact. YOu don't need to watch the ball til after your opponent makes contact. The Face of the racket will turn in OPEN angle, if they are lobbing, and if they are hitting passing shots, it will remain more closed. go out and try it, you will see.
and practice hitting over-head with proper technique, it doesn't have to at 100 mph. and if you don't have a good angle, hit it at moderate pace UP the MIDDLE, and close back into the net. This works even at 4.5 level.

PushyPushster
11-22-2010, 10:45 AM
Thanks for the help, guys. Regarding the OH being like a serve, I can totally believe that because my serve sucks too - it's merely a way to start a point. Those deficiencies are why I play a level lower in doubles than singles.

1) I am trying to picture you & your partner's movement. Were you moving together to chase the lob or just the guy retrieving it? You should be having both players retreat behind the baseline when the lob passes a net player.

No, we were not doing this. We started off attempting two-up but then, after they proved they were exceptionally good at lobs, we switched to one-up / one-back with the baseliner playing the lob game. Would two-back have been a better bet?

2) If they are lobbing and charging, you should try to lob back a lot. At the 3.5 level, your lob is probably more accurate than your overhead...even if your lob stinks.

We lobbed a lot, but it was basically playing their game.

And work on your overheads!!!

There's a lot of holes and only so much spackle. :)

CrispyFritters
11-22-2010, 11:37 AM
While you work on your overhead.....

One option might be to hit them shots from which it's more difficult to lob. For example, it's easy to lob a ball when it bounces waist or head high high and you have lot time to setup.

Maybe you could hit a low slice or a very short ball that forces the opponents to move into a less comfortable position. You might get some short lobs by doing this - which are easier to overhead and possible, you could just hit a groundstroke from midcourt.

Tennis_Monk
11-22-2010, 11:57 AM
I got a very good serve (atleast good enough for college and leagues). My overheads suck. if i had overheads, i would be atleast 0.5-1 level above where i am.

ronray43
11-22-2010, 12:19 PM
A couple of things you might want to consider:
1) Better approach shots (medium-hard pace to the feet) so it will be tougher for your opponents to lob.
2) Once you're both in at the net, volley at your opponents' feet--again harder to lob balls at your feet.
3) Lob back if you're not in position to hit the overhead
4) Get better at overheads (many of us have the same problem)
I'm no expert, but that's my two cents based on my experience. Good luck!

Cindysphinx
11-22-2010, 12:50 PM
Pushy,

I have lost more matches like that than you have. Feel any better? :)

The times when we have won have involved our initially trying to take the initiative and wallop our overheads. If this works, golden. They stop lobbing, we start winning.

Alas, sometimes we fall behind very quickly by missing overheads -- or more accurately, by missing overheads after our smashes are returned repeatedly as even better lobs. Add in the times they lob, their lob is deep, and it bounces too high for either of us to reach. It's a guaranteed loss unless you can find a way to defeat that lob strategy.

In those instances, we have managed to win sometimes by having one player stay back. The person at the net is charged with finishing the point some kind of way, while the back person keeps it in play. The back person is not allowed to come to net unless she hits a wicked fierce shot that has the opponents in trouble.

The key is the net person. She simply must hit short angles, swinging volleys, drop volleys and slices. She can't just send the thing back deep to the lobbers. She should stand a foot or two inside the service line to have a shot at the lobs while also being close enough to move up and poach if they decide to hit a groundie.

Welcome to 3.5 tennis. It's all about the lob.

PushyPushster
11-22-2010, 01:25 PM
Maybe you could hit a low slice or a very short ball that forces the opponents to move into a less comfortable position.

Probably a good idea. They at least would have had to approach the net with a shot that allowed a hard groundstroke return.

Welcome to 3.5 tennis. It's all about the lob.

I hear you. I'm not too shabby with the lob myself, but those guys were ridiculous.

Cindysphinx
11-22-2010, 02:39 PM
^It's hard to lob the shorter in the court you are. By all means, hit short and slice. And if you can't slice, then *push!*

JavierLW
11-22-2010, 02:51 PM
^It's hard to lob the shorter in the court you are. By all means, hit short and slice. And if you can't slice, then *push!*

That's a good point.

If you insist on hitting everything deep to them either by pushing or drilling the ball, you're hitting the ball right at them in some cases. It's even easier for them to lob then.

You need to move them, and sometimes the only good way to do that is to make them have to move forward.

And if you get backed up and have to hit a overhead, you dont have to go for a winner. A lot of times I like to drill it right at the deepest player's feet as hard as I can (at least it wont go out), and more times then not they'll set me up with another overhead.

beernutz
11-22-2010, 02:52 PM
Hi - I need some advice about how to deal with a doubles team that has perfected the lob. Over the last season I've been working hard toward improving my net game and can now claim to be Agressively Mediocre. Believe it or not, that's a huge improvement. This last game torpedoed any budding confidence out of the water. Here's how the match played out:

Both opponents could lob high and deep into our backcourt at will. Eventually they would both take the net while one of their balls was returning to Earth from orbit. Neither my partner nor I are good enough to paste an overhead slam from that deep into our backcourt with a high degree of accuracy. In fact, my overhead sucks. Eventually we just decided to lob everything back and play conservative, waiting for our chances. We came close, but no cigar. This is the second team we've faced over the last few seasons that has used this strategy effectively against us (we play 3.5, btw, so our toolbox is limited).

Any suggestions? I'm usually pretty calm while playing tennis, but after this match I wanted to smash my racket into a pile of flinders and set it on fire in the middle of the court.

In addition to the obvious suggestions I think you could work on hitting approach shots which are less likely to be lobbed (e.g. slices). I've really worked on slicing approach shots, keeping them low and deep, which I think puts pressure on the other team to hit deep lobs. YMMV.

jakemcclain32
11-22-2010, 04:02 PM
I've played quite a bit of lobbers in my time. Before I learned how to truly play, the match turned into moonball central.

Then I learned to put some spin on my shots. If you get the perfect spin on a backhand, for instance, I can tell you the opponent won't be worried about lobbing the next one. They'll just hope to get it over. You'll know the spin is perfect if they have to move two more feet over to the right or left than they are comfortable doing.

philxor
11-22-2010, 05:33 PM
What has worked for me is what others have said, hitting shots which are more difficult to lob like short shots, slices, or shots with heavy topspin.

I've had good luck with 3.5 type players for just hitting groundstrokes in the middle of the court. If they are having to move to hit something it greatly increases the chance for a short lob or error of some sort.

polski
11-22-2010, 06:51 PM
No, we were not doing this. We started off attempting two-up but then, after they proved they were exceptionally good at lobs, we switched to one-up / one-back with the baseliner playing the lob game. Would two-back have been a better bet?




2 up should translate to 2 back when you get lobbed. If only one player chases the lobs, you're leaving a big opening in the middle for angle volleys to split between you.

Effective doubles players move together. Generally, you want to bring the returner into the net as quick as possible, however if one player is forced to move back the partner needs to retreat back as well. Then you should try to get back in ASAP.

Steady Eddy
11-23-2010, 07:10 AM
Welcome to 3.5 tennis. It's all about the lob.
Yes. It's very hard to master the overhead. Not only is the ball falling rapidly, but it's hard to run back quickly enough. The smasher has to do all that, but all the lobber has to do is lob. Unless the players are young, athletic, and worked extensively on smashing, the lobber has the upper hand.

Steady Eddy
11-23-2010, 07:15 AM
2 up should translate to 2 back when you get lobbed. If only one player chases the lobs, you're leaving a big opening in the middle for angle volleys to split between you.

Effective doubles players move together. Generally, you want to bring the returner into the net as quick as possible, however if one player is forced to move back the partner needs to retreat back as well. Then you should try to get back in ASAP.Maybe. Sometimes one-up, one-back can work well in 3.5 doubles. But you don't divide the court between you as left-side, right-side. Instead, if they lob over the net player, the back court player goes to that side to retrieve. This neutralizes the lob to quite an extent. The net player is there to pressure them by looking to get any short lob or lazy passing shot. But the one-up, one-back team does lots of crossing. The don't think "left-side, right-side".

Nellie
11-23-2010, 01:31 PM
IF you cannot overhead, move back and hit a high forehand - you don't have to kill the ball - just try to minimize errors

Likewise, on the overhead, you don't have to kill the ball.

tennis tom
11-23-2010, 11:02 PM
Regarding hitting the OH, was watching the Year End Finals from London on Tennis Channel today, Bryan Bros vs two Poles. Matkowski, hit a gorgeous OH, he backed up sideways to the ball, took micro steps to get into perfect position, extended up his ball toss arm for balance and crushed the OH perfectly to the T. He also has a huge serve no surprise. Watched it over and over in slow-mo and now have it imprinted in my tennis brain. If you can't dream it, you won't be able to do it.

stapletonj
11-28-2010, 03:18 PM
IF you happen to get even a somewhatshort lob, go for the angled putaway. This gets your opponents discouraged fomr their lobs quickly. It doesn't have to be hard, just angled.

Is your approach shot/first volley bouncing deep and waist high? This is setting them up to lob you. Even a short apporach shot makes it tougher on the lobber. Of course, you gotta keep it low too.....

Closest thing to a magic bullet I can think of