There are lots of things to think about when running down a lob. Which partner is going to retrieve it? Is the wind affecting it? Can it be hit in the air? Should I drop or drive it? All are important, but none is more important than doing it safely!
Moving properly to retrieve a lob safely is numero uno. I have seen people shuffling back on their heels, looking up, and perhaps tripping over their own feet. Others shuffle sideways, which may also lead to tripping. Balance, as always, is key. But, it is also important to pick up your feet.
PROPER TECHNIQUE FOR RUNNING DOWN A LOB
Ideally, you want to hit a forehand after running down a lob. To do this, you need to learn the proper technique:
1. DROP STEP: If you are right-handed, you will want to take a drop step with your right foot, turning your body so you can run...not shuffle.
2. RUN BEHIND THE BALL: You want to make a semi-circle past, or behind, the ball so you can take a forehand. Too often people run right under the path of the ball and may even run into it.
3. DON’T STARE AT THE BALL: You don’t need to watch the ball throughout the entire flight. Staring at the ball the entire time may cause you to lose your balance, or will slow your progress. You will get to the ball faster, hopefully before it lands, by just turning and running. You need to guess a bit, where the ball is going...but if you run, you should have time to make any minor adjustments that are needed.
PRACTICE RUNNING DOWN A LOB
Many times, people don’t think they can make this kind of movement on the court. Certainly, there may be physical limitations to consider, but usually it is just getting into a habit of moving this way. To practice, you can simply do the whole movement on your own without a ball. Start by taking that right foot back and turning around first, then running to a position to practice your motion.
After you feel you have the basic movement, toss a ball up with one hand simulating the lob. You might be surprised how much time you have for recovering the ball. This sort of practice will enable you to gain confidence and will go a long way to eliminating the hesitation that is slowing you down today.
Of course, communicating effectively with your partner regarding who should run down the lob and where the partner will be positioned is also very important.