Doubles tennis tips: How to finally beat the lobber


This is a guest post by our monthly contributor, Will Boucek, a former college tennis player from Austin, with over 20 years of experience playing and coaching. Will specializes in doubles and was 4.5 men’s and mixed doubles champion in Texas in 2017. Fascinated by the strategy of doubles, Will shares his valuable insights on his website The Tennis Tribe. Since beating the lobber is a VERY common topic that women’s doubles players ask him about, he is summing up his best techniques not to get in the trap of being lobbed

After a biting slice serve out wide to the deuce court, your opponent lunges out to hit a short forehand crosscourt return back at you. You step in to hit it with the footwork your coach taught you. After hitting it back crosscourt with good depth, but closer to the middle this time, you come to the net behind it. You’ve played the perfect point up to now. You deserve to win this. Then… they lob you 🙁 It’s the most hated shot in tennis, and possible the most talked about at the club level.

Today, I’m going to show you how to finally beat the dreaded lob.

To beat the lobber, first we have to understand what makes their strategy so effective, and why they win matches. After that, I’ll show you exactly how to counter it.

The lobber’s secret weapon

To traditional style tennis players, the ball that most lobbers hit to us is like a big slice of chocolate cake. You know you probably shouldn’t go for it, but you just can’t help yourself.

They give us what appear to be the easiest shots. The ball sits up nicely for us to hit out and take a crack at it. The problem is, while we can make 4 out of 5 of these shots, the lobber will make 5 out of 5 of their lobs, so eventually, they win.

The lobber’s secret weapon is actually us. It’s our power, our pace, our lack of self-control and patience.

Most players will keep hitting the same ball against a lobber. I personally used to run around every shot and try to overpower them with forehands. Don’t do this! It was fun to practice crushing 5 forehands in a row every single point, but, like chocolate cake, I didn’t feel great afterwards.

Why lobbers win: The rhythm

Tennis players love to get into a rhythm. If we can hit the same shot over and over, it’s easier to get into this rhythm. This is why you look so good when you hit against the ball machine, but it doesn’t always translate to the court in matches.

For a doubles (or singles) player who lobs, this is even more true. So, if you’re using one of these strategies against a lobber…

  • Overpower them;
  • Hit deep heavy spin;
  • Slice to bring them to the net;
  • Smash overheads down the middle;
  • Slice overheads off the court.

Forget it!

You actually need to use all of them.

You have to overpower them, AND hit deep heavy spin, AND hit a slice to bring them in, AND hit a wide angle to get them off the court, AND hit a variety of overheads.

Sometimes, you have to do this all in one point.

How to counter the lob with variety

There’s actually only one strategy that can work against a good player or doubles team who lobs. That is to change it up & use variety with your shot selection.

Remember, they like to be in a rhythm. If you’re hitting them the same ball in the same spot every time, they’ll never miss. They’ll also keep you pinned way back in the court on the baseline.


  • Change the depth of your shots;
  • Change the spins you’re using;
  • Change the direction you’re hitting to – give them forehands and backhands;
  • Change the height your hitting with – make them hit from their ankles and their shoulder.

When I watch tournament and league players try to beat a lobber, they never use all of these options. Try it in your next match against a lobber to break their rhythm.

The final step to beating the lobber

Most importantly, be patient! Most tennis players try to attack too early against a lobber. That’s when they miss.

You have to keep changing it up during the point until you find the right ball to attack. You may have to wait until you have a ball within five feet of the net.

Over the course of the match, you should also find a weakness in the lobber. At that point you can attack it. I call this the Seek & Destroy Method (video lesson).

However, you may need to still use variety depending on the lobber’s skill-level.

To recap, next time you play a lobber, do this:

  • Break their rhythm – change up how & where you’re hitting with a variety of shots;
  • Look for their weakness, and attack it;
  • Be patient! Don’t go for the winner too early.

**Try it out in your next match and comment below with your results. I’d love to hear them.**

Good luck!


  1. This is a weird question. I’ve played recreational doubles against 80 year old women who play old school. They almost look like they’re playing badminton instead of tennis. They hold the racquet vertically and swing up, push the ball up and force you back off the court, then kill you with a short slice angle. It’s almost like an overhead that they hit up on not down. They barely tap the ball, so it never goes out. I played this style with a wooden racquet years ago when I was seven years old in the early 60s. We beat them in a third set tie break, but it was ugly tennis. How do I beat these types???

  2. Hi Therese, great question!

    The first thing I’d say is to look for weaknesses. It’s likely that these women prefer the slice on their forehand side, so maybe try hitting to the backhand.

    After a point ends, ask yourself if they looked comfortable with each shot. Figure out which shots they like, and don’t like. It takes a lot of concentration to do this because most tennis players focus on themselves, but it’s better to focus on the opponent.

    Variety is usually good against these players as well. Experiment hitting with different depths, directions, height, pace, and spin to see what gives them trouble.

    Last, if they slice the ball, it likely floats high over the net. In that case, you or your partner should be on top of the net to put the ball away.

    Hope that helps! Feel free to email me directly if you have any questions.

  3. The dreaded lobber. We’ve all been there. We start the warm-up with our opponent and the ball comes looping back with no pace, no topspin, and no control. “No problem. It’s just the warm-up,” you think to yourself.
    The match starts and every shot they hit is a lob—every effing one! Your inner tennis spirit screams to the heavens. You’re about to face the nemesis of the recreational tennis player: the lobber. to understand this i read more then6 to 7 articles then I understand it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here