Lob

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Overview Text Section

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The Lob is a style of defending where you stand far from the table. As the opponent smashes, you lift the ball up and back to the table. Michael Maze is famous for his consistent lobs and ability to win points from lobbing.

Winning a point from a long series of lobs and smashes can be a big momentum changer. Normally you're at a disadvantage when you're lobbing, but developing this side of the game can win you some dramatic points that give you a momentum boost and discourage your opponent.



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Tips for an Effective Lob Text Section

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Simply lobbing to hit the table isn't good enough at the high level. Strong opponents will have the consistency to smash without error if you make it easy for them. Here are some tips for an effective lob that will make your opponents nervous:

  1. Aim Deep.
    Don't aim to hit near the net; aim for the deepest part of the table. The further back the ball lands, the harder it is for the opponent to smash consistently. Close-to-the-net balls are very easy to smash, and also leave you open for a short drop shot. Attempting a drop shot on a deep ball will go longer and be less effective.
  2. Add Lots of Topspin.
    Adding a lot of topspin to your lob makes it harder for the opponent to smash consistently.
  3. In a Small Court, Lob Low.
    If you're playing in an area with not much space to back up and lob, you'll want to lob the ball lower, so the ball only bounces as high as the opponent's head or lower. High balls give the attacker the opportunity to smash further, whereas a ball that is only head-height cannot go as far.
  4. Get Back Into Position.
    After lobbing the ball, make sure to get back into the optimal position to receive the next smash. If your lob goes to one side, you should stand more to the opposite side of the table (ie: if your lob is on the left side of the table when it is about to get smashed, move more to the right to receive the smash).
  5. Watch for the Drop Shot.
    You'll likely get a drop shot every once in a while, so stay close enough to the table so you'll get back in time for the drop shot, and keep a close eye for the opponent showing signs that he is about to do it.
  6. Apply Sidespin when Returning a Drop Shot.
    While the ball is low, add sidespin to the ball in either direction. Hopefully the smasher won't notice and will expect a straight ball and miss completely, or at least give a weak return so you can go on the attack. Also switch the direction of the spin so the opponent can't predict what you'll give.

    Also add deception to this return by not following through on the sidespin stroke (or immediately do a fake follow-through in the other direction to trick your opponent into guessing the wrong direction).
  7. Be Patient.
    If you are confident in your lobbing abilities, don't feel pressured to try to attack at the first opportunity. If your lobbing is better and more consistent than the opponent's smashing, it is in your best interests to keep lobbing. Your opponent will get more tired than you exerting so much force in each smash.


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Tips for Smashing Against a Lobber Text Section

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On the flipside, here's how to win a lobbing rally:

  1. Lob to the Backhand Side.
    This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but the majority of players cannot attack a long smash using their backhand, so they are forced to play defensively. If you smash to their forehand, they might loop it back.
  2. Smash to the Extreme Sides.
    Instead of smashing right down the middle, aim for the far sides so the lobber is forced to get out of position. If they aren't able to get back into position you may be able to finish the point by smashing in the other direction. Again aim more for the backhand side to avoid getting re-looped.
  3. Do Drop Shots Regularly.
    Lobbers hate having to run back and forth, far from the table, then close for a drop shot, so use this strategy regularly. Try to drop it as short as possible (a double-bounce on the table is optimal).

    It's easier to keep a drop shot short if the lob lands close to the net. A deep lob is hard to drop short.
  4. Watch for a Trick after the Drop Shot.
    If the drop shot falls off the end of the table, the lobber may return the ball with sidespin, to make the ball shoot to one side after it bounces. Be aware of this, as they may do this under the table so you can't see exactly what they're doing and which direction the ball will go.
  5. Be Patient.
    It is common for the smasher to get anxious when the lobber successfully returns a lot of smashes, causing you to try to smash harder each time. This causes unforced errors, so aim for consistency. If the lobber doesn't seem to be an expert at lobbing, just stick to the game plan and keep smashing with good location and keep mixing in drop shots. Don't get pressured into smashing harder and harder.


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Fast and Furious
See Michael Maze's lobs against Tan Ruiwu at the start of this video.

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