There isn’t a more controversial shot in pickleball than the lob. Some people hate them. Some people love and over-use them. Some people feel it’s not good sportsmanship to lob to someone who’s looking into the sun, isn’t physically agile or fit enough to cover them, or whatever. Some folks feel it’s such a low percentage shot that it’s not a sensible shot to use at all.
Our opinion is that the lob is just another shot you need to know. There are certain situations, in fact, when ONLY a lob will get you out of trouble. For instance, let’s say you are pulled quickly off the court around the kitchen line by a wide side-to-side dink. You didn’t see it coming and are completely out of position physically to hit a more controlled and higher-percentage shot back. You are not quite outside the netposts and so can’t go around the post for one of the cool down-into-the-back-court shots we so dearly love to make. What are you left with?
What Beginners and lower Intermediate players might do is to flail at the ball and try to rip it back across the middle. Good luck with that one; we’d estimate your chances at about one-in-ten even hitting an “in” ball that way and if you do, with you off the court, all the nearest opponent to you needs to do is to cut the ball off and you’re dead meat ‘cuz you aren’t even back on the court yet. Instead you catch up to the ball as best you can and, having practiced the shot, you hit a very high and not very deep lob, either forehand or backhand, diagonally across the court. Will that be completely safe? No, but it’s the best option you’ve got right there. And assuming you really HAVE practiced the shot, you will then have lots of time to get back onto the court and back into the point.
Additionally there are times when lobs are an offensive choice and in fact are almost a certain winner, and why wouldn’t you hit a certain winner? Example? Here’s one. Enrique Ruiz, who granted is a little bit better than we are and probably is also better than you (odds favor that statement!) almost makes a living at the kitchen line out of reaching in for a dink, taking it out of the air, and flipping it on the volley over his opponent’s off-hand shoulder. He doesn’t hit the shot particularly high…he wants to get it by them quickly and not give them enough time to cover the shot. And if he knows you can’t cover that, he will do it again and again until the match is over, which generally will be a fairly short time.
There are other ideas and other considerations, but for now let’s get you going with a couple of course outlines so you can teach the shot.