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Prevent an opponent lobbing?

Published: 18 Nov 2007 - 22:47 by mike

Updated: 07 Dec 2007 - 08:48

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Hi, just thinking about the best way to shut down an opponent who has a very good lob.

I was thinking it best to keep them out of the front of the court where the ball can be more easily lifted to height. Hitting hard and low came to mind.

Anything else?

I guess the best response is to have an excellent high volley ;)

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From rippa rit - 07 Dec 2007 - 08:31   -   Updated: 07 Dec 2007 - 08:48

Mike - speak up if I am on the wrong track, and I think I read your post through at least twice to get the question, and still got it wrong!

Stonehands reply is sound advice. 

We can always look at tactics in reverse too just to see what we come up with. So the opponent is lobbing, why?

  • Wants to slow the game down
  • Wants more time to get to the ball or recover to the center court.
  • Opponent not volleying very well.
  • Need a breather as fitness is not so great as the match progresses
  • Wants to muck up the rhythm of the game
  • Opponent is using your pace conserving energy.
  • Make opponent frustrated and cranky as they "crack" up

The answers to the above are now more obvious I reckon  Taking one point at a time, this is what I come up with.

  • Increase the speed of the game
  • Give less time to get to the ball
  • Upgrade the volley skills, particularly the accuracy into the corners and side wall.
  • Keep the rally going, and get every ball back,with good tight length, and tight running boasts. Keep them on the move.
  • Every time the opponent goes to the front of the court move back ready to take the volley a bit earlier so it does not go over your head so easily, especially if the opponent does not have a good drop shot.
  • Keep very cool and determined to get every ball back into play, and try lobbing as well to see how it works for you.
Now, I guess it is all up to you!


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From Stonehands - 07 Dec 2007 - 03:24

Interestingly, I play an opponent like this in an upcoming tournament.  I have played him before in an earlier tournament and he beat me quite easily doing exactly the same thing - lobs and drops.  The advice of "can't beat them, join them" is not good advice in my opinion - because that is their strength and it is likely that you will not be as good.  Unfortunately that is exactly what I tried to do with embarrassing results.  I think mixing pace and keeping the ball deep is excellent advice. 

After I was beaten by this opponent in a previous tournament, we played for fun at another venue and I "imposed" my game which is power and angles.  I beat him quite easily.  Upon reflection of the first tournament meeting I realized that I tried to play a "cute" game of well executed finesse shots and in doing so, fell right into his strength.  I had no chance with that strategy.  I'm looking forward to playing him again and sticking to my strengths, thereby creating a great clash of styles. 

You never want a touch player getting comfortable and into a groove, so mix of pace, height, serves, etc. help keep a touch player off balance and off their game.  High soft rails (shoulder height) mixed with hard (really hard) low rails is the ticket.  If he gets control of the rally, take your medicine.  Cut off as much as you can (can't let lobs reach the back wall) and use defensive high shots away from your opponent to give yourself a chance to get back to the T and neutralize the rally.

Hope that makes sense.

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From aprice1985 - 07 Dec 2007 - 00:48

Ray has got what i meant in the post, I think i keep trying to do too much with the ball and take my eye off it as i hit,

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From raystrach - 06 Dec 2007 - 15:41   -   Updated: 06 Dec 2007 - 15:42

i think you wanted to know how to hit a ball that has been lobbed, is that right?

a couple of things come to mind...

  • watch the ball carefully - it is easy to hit too early - take your time
  • always hit with an open face (often it is on the side of the ball as the racket is vertical)
  • always hit through the ball - don't slap at it  and don't try to finesse it at first - have a distinct target point on the front wall in mind
  • be confident - play the shot and believe you are good at it - keep believing even after a few failures - your judgement will adapt and soon your confidence will be justified!!
  • practise, practise, practise.

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From rippa rit - 06 Dec 2007 - 13:32   -   Updated: 06 Dec 2007 - 13:40

aprice1985 - yes, a lob is a "feel" shot just like a drop shot.  It is a fine skill.

Here is the Squash Library/Strokes Movement/Lob page, and it has a "discuss this page" feature after every blurb, on all pages, so it would be an idea to discuss what you do not understand in that forum page. There are videos attached to those articles too which you have access too.

The bit about the shot selection is listed under Squash Library/Squash Tactics/Lob and also has the "discuss this page" feature, so after reading that, and trying to get a gist of it  please ask questions specific to those key points, so we can see where you are at.

It is not a miraculous thing, it is knowing what you are trying to do and practising it many many times over. What do you know about a lob might be a good question?

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From aprice1985 - 06 Dec 2007 - 08:49

In a similar vein, what is the best technique for playing a lob, it is my weakest area, once the ball is high in the air i have problems in deciding when to play it and also how/where, any tips?

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From mike - 29 Nov 2007 - 23:00

Thanks for the great posts, good reading. As with a lot of squash it's an iterative cycle where one's own shots need to be tight enough to restrict an opponents options.    

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From Adz - 27 Nov 2007 - 23:28

I was scared that I'd rambled on too much in that one! Was tough to finish off  sat in the office whilst typing away like an idiot and then my boss walked in!

The main point of dealing with lobs is to try to make it incredibly difficult for your opponent to be in position to play them. Every fraction of a second you give them is more time to get the position and shot better. You need to take these fractions of seconds away from them and force them to rush their shots. Those tight lobs will either become loose or may even become out of court! Low, fast shots are best to cause this forced position. But your position is far more important. In the wrong position you will not reach a high lob in time to stop it crippling you in the corners. Too far back and you leave the oponent open for an easy drop. It really is a tough one to work around if you have bad position or bad volleys. I will say that if you can't beat 'em, JOIN 'EM!! Start to use the lob in your game and give yourself more time to get your position correct. Master it and you turn the tables on your opponents.



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From drop-shot - 27 Nov 2007 - 18:57   -   Updated: 27 Nov 2007 - 18:58


Adz, Excellent post, thank you for the good reading.

I just need to clarify my statement about the drop-shot I did mention in my first answer; so, quotting you:
"...Those drops better be so tight that NOTHING can get under them or around them, or you really are on your way to getting beaten..."

What I meant in my post was the drop-shot targeted perfectly to the nick, very close to the front wall, glued, dead, because everything else is going to work against you. So, what I meant was a flawless shot.


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From Adz - 20 Nov 2007 - 21:23

Ha ha! I'm going to give you my point of view (being a player who loves to lob the ball whilst being able to mix at speed and power play).

As people have already said, the lob is a great shot to play and lends itself to many different positions on the court. Droping the ball (especially counter dropping or cross dropping) is like an invitation to get lobbed. If you play the ball short and are in front of the T, a good player is going to lob you and you're in trouble! Those drops better be so tight that NOTHING can get under them or around them, or you really are on your way to getting beaten.

If you play a really good lobbing player then the only chance you're going to get is to keep them moving A LOT! The faster you have to move the harder it is to get a consistent finesse or touch shot. Take a low hard cross court drive designed to stretch your opponent from the T to the wall edge of a service box. If the shot is low and hard enough then they'd be sretched flat out and be unable to get a good lob shot in from here. The best bet they have is to lift the ball back across the court high onto the other side wall (this shot gives them the maximum recovery time whilst causing the opponent the most difficult retrieval).

Now this shot is a tough one to pull off. A full stretch cross court lob from a mid court position off a ball played at speed. They need to be pretty damn good shot players to pull off that one!

Everything in squash is about action and reaction. Any shot but the first or last is BOTH! Let me talk you through a rally....... (assume 2 right handed players) Serving from forehand box to backhand return. Use backhand service to allow better visability of opponent, zero turn time and easy flow of movement into T position. End up facing side wall with feet pointing away from body (ready to move forwards or back depending on return). Serve is high onto sidewall to give maximum travel and body positioning time. Ideal return by opponent is either high, tight rail shot or high, tight crosscourt lob. Loose service can be attacked, as can out of position opponent. Loose service good attacking return = hand out! Tight service Loose return Attacking shot = point to server. At every opportunity you shouold be looking for the shot BEFORE your winner. You want to beat someone easily then you need to put them out of position or under pressure BEFORE you hit a winning shot.

This is why lob is such a deadly shot when employed correctly. When the player arrives at the ball in position to play the lob, they also have position to play a drop off a similar racquet position. You now have two choices: 1) Stay close enough to cover the drop but risk the lob going overhead or 2) Cover the lob but risk missing the drop at the front. To counter this (e.g. react to it) you need to be close enough to reach the drop but be ready to run back like a crazy person to retrieve the lob. DO NOT LET IT BOUNCE!!!!! A lob allowed to drop into the corner is a criminal act. A good lob doesn't come out of the corners.

So a quick summary (as my boss is back in the office!):

1) Get back and volley lobs without leaving the drops open at the front

2) Avoid giving your opponent any position with time to play their shots

3) Keep them stretched to recover hard hit shots making it extremely difficult for them to lob

4) Learn to volley to hit both kill shots and tight drives from high positions

5) Learn an action - reaction game style to better deal with oppoents styles of play



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From rippa rit - 20 Nov 2007 - 06:17   -   Updated: 20 Nov 2007 - 06:23

All of the ideas are good.

Remember, the best way to prevent an opponent from being so accurate is to:

  • Keep the ball hugging the wall or corner, so that means all drops have to angle into the front wall nick, and all boasts have to scoot away quickly into the front corner and land close to the nick.
  • The speed at which the drops and boasts are executed, as above, will then make it more difficult to hit such an accurate lob (hug the wall).

So it is a viscious circle; you want to volley or volley boast, and it is then difficult to get a good swing at the ball when the lob is so close to the walls, so that for starters takes away the speed of the game, as well as can prevent accuracy.

You need to first take the opponent out of their comfort zone , eg got to wait for the ball to get a hit at it; ball is really low and hard to lift up to make a decent lob; fear the opponent might volley the lob if it is not good enough, etc. Once you have done that you are back into the game, and probably making the opponent rethink if a lob is the right shot to play at that time.

So, what do we need to do?  Practice routines with boasts, lobs, and drops, volleys, paying particular attention to the above mentioned features (tight, corners, nick).

I like it.

Mike - playing females is a good way to learn how to deal with the lobs, as they most probably cannot beat you with power, they need to slow you down; you need to keep up the tight pace if youcan as that will cause the opponent to rush when playing those accurate lobs, and if the lob is not accurate punish it with a volley.

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From aprice1985 - 19 Nov 2007 - 22:38

I know the feeling, i have lost matches because my opponent could lob so well i couldn't return them cause my high volley sucked, the same applies for returning a lob serve i find.  They best i can generally do is not try to do too much with the lob, be quite defensive and push your volley deep and straight where possible, almost lob their lob, then hopefully they have to run to the back court and attempt to retrieve a dying shot (if it works!)

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From mike - 19 Nov 2007 - 21:53

I think the reasons my opponent was lobbing were:

  • I was getting to (most) drops fairly comfortably
  • She was very good at them, they hit the side wall high and deep and came out sideways across the back wall...very hard to return
  • My volley return attempts were pretty weak (due to previous point)
I think mostly I need to improve my HIGH volley skills.

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From hamburglar - 19 Nov 2007 - 21:52   -   Updated: 19 Nov 2007 - 21:52

A good player can lob from anywhere on the court, so you'd be better off learning how to deal with a lob than just trying to prevent it. Volley, volley, volley. The killer is if they're in a spot where they can drop or lob and that makes you work, so try to keep the ball deep and tight.

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From rippa rit - 19 Nov 2007 - 09:25

Mike - I think the player has to change their game if their opponent is dishing up shots that are getting them into trouble, or that they do not like, or it is changing the tempo of the game and causing them to lose control of the match..  Here is the link to the Squash Library/Tactics/Shot Selection/Why Play a Lob (the reasons why the opponent is probably playing the lobs).

If you can volley and lob it should be no problem to just hang in waiting for something that sits out into the court to attack. Yes, and that requires patience, and means not trying to hit a winner off every ball.

When would I chose to lob?

  • When my opponent was running me off my feet and I needed to slow things down.
  • When I was unable to control the rally.
  • When I knew the opponent only had one pace (full bore)
  • If I wanted to play drop shots/finesse play.
  • If my normal game was not being successful.

When would I chose to speed up the game using hard tight and deep length?

  • When my opponent kept lobbing and dropping and slowing the game down.
  • When the opponent had too much time to play finesse shots.
  • When the opponent was unfit try to keep the rallies going a bit longer.

As drop.shot suggested tight to the walls and corners, plus volleying is an ideal start to minimise this lobbing/slowing up the game tactic.

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From drop-shot - 18 Nov 2007 - 23:53   -   Updated: 19 Nov 2007 - 01:01

I guess you are playing ex-tennis or ex-badminon player who's trained to play a lot of volleys and he does it good (unfortunately).

Good that you have already spotted the point of your weakness, so now you can work it out to your adventage:

Try this:

• in general - stop him doing that to you :-)

• play low (not necessarily hard), but do not play any balls above your hips line;

• drop/ crosscourt drop him;

• if you play the ball to the middle of the court (inbetween service boxes), be sure you're going to be punished - play good width, try to glue the ball to the sidewalls;

Easier said than done, I wish you luck :-) and I am sure that the topic will involve more helpers

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