One of the primary reasons tennis players migrate to pickleball is to avoid rotator cuff injuries related to the overhead smash. Additionally, lobbing in pickleball is relatively difficult compared to tennis because the court is so much smaller. So players with fantastic overhead smashes may not see a lot of lobs.
While there are several effective strategies to counter the banger, there are fewer effective strategies to contend with the smug lobber. Have a shorter and less mobile player with a weak overhead smash get lobbed over and over again. Or lobbed and then dinked in turn repeatedly until they are exhausted.
Sort of a cat and mouse game. There is very little the exhausted player can do to erase the smug smile off the Cheshire Cat. Here are four options for dealing with the smug lobber:
1) Learn to leap like Michael Jordan and crash an overhead smoking into the corner. For some of us, this option is not viable. We have a hard time getting our shoelaces off the floor and we lack upper body strength.
2) Finish the game, tap paddles and never walk back in the court with that player on the opposite side again. This is not a bad idea for those of us whose frustrations mount when lobbed repeatedly. This is a better option then getting a concealed carry permit!
3) The third option is to bear with it and simply hit overhead smashes back to the center line and try to endure. It may help to stand a couple feet behind the kitchen line to be better prepared for a lob. A corollary to this option is initiating the lob yourself. Unfortunately, most lobbers happen to have great overhead smashes and do so with glee.
4) Ask the lobber to desist. Not in the existential sense, but to simply stop lobbing. Tell him or her that it’s simply not fun.
Regardless of what route you take, don’t get discouraged. Pickleball is often a game of out-thinking and outlasting your opponent. Eventually the lobber may lose their cool, make a mistake or get tired of their own game. Wait for your opening to strike or work on sending those balls flying toward the baseline.
In the meantime, if you want to play pickleball that’s less a war of attrition, there’s nothing wrong with that either! Play the game that’s the most fun for you.