Handling the Short Lob
When watching some high school tennis, I am constantly reminded of how
many inexperienced players â€œfreezeâ€� when a lob goes up. They
usually are in the middle of the court and the ball is falling near the net.
Instead of running to the ball, most cannot move their legs and end up
pushing the ball down into the bottom of the net. Usually caused because the
ball gets to low to hit over the net.
The fear of trying to hit a tennis ball while moving is very real for those who
do not practice it. This is unfortunate because the proper and preferred way
to hit a high ball falling in front of you is to run thru the shot. This running
through the ball while swinging does two things.
First it allows the player to get up to the ball quickly, instead of having the
feet stick to the court like glue.
It also allows the player to keep their head still, since stopping and starting
tend to make the head bob back and forth. Itâ€™s easier to track this difficult
ball when the eyes are steady and still.
The shoulders can easily twist and rotate to swing at a short lob while
running. The body weight is obviously moving forward during the swing
adding power and force to the shot.
To get a feel for running through your overheads youâ€™ll need to
practice through trial and error. Itâ€™s a good idea to have someone feed
you short lobs near the net as you stand behind the service line. Practice
running forward and taking an overhead smash swing while your running.
The difficult part is timing the running so you arrive at the falling ball at the
ideal height for contact.
Doug Hofer, USPTA September 20, 2007 hofertennis.com