Being an individual sport, it means that you often think you have one job – to win the point, and in many ways that is true, but there are many ways to win a point!
If we take football (soccer for some people) as an example, there are essentially three jobs: attack (scoring goals), midfield (creating chances) and defense (stopping goals from being scored). If we transfer those jobs to a squash player, it’s easy to see that players neglect the defensive role. Which is where the lob comes in.
We are scrambling to reach the ball at the front and before we have realized what has happened, we have wacked the ball back and most likely not a great shot. This is where professional squash players have the presence of mind to take away to advantage of the attacking player and even turn defense into attack. Too many cl8ub players have told me that they don’t play lobs because that’s not a satisfying shot to play!
I’m shocked. Besides a beautiful rolling nick, a lob that takes me from being under pressure to PUTTING my opponent under pressure is one of the most satisfying feelings I know. Watching that ball sail through the air, unable to be volleyed, only to drop into the corner, forcing my opponent into a weak return or at best leaving them noting to hit, is pure joy. I’ve turned the tables on their attacking shot.
And you know what is frustrating? It’s a lot easier than you might think to hit good lobs. Sure, some courts are low or have strange ceiling supports that can make it difficult to really get the ball high, but for most courts, a good lob *is* possible. A quick anecdote: I used to coach at the BBC in White City, London and the two courts were in an old studio building and the height to the ceiling from the out line on the front wall was the same height as the court, so effectively twice the height. My god! Lobs took ages to come down from there. I miss those courts!
To hit a good lob you need to get your racket head under the ball, have an open face and aim just above the service line – higher than that and you risk hitting the ceiling. Of course, a lot depends on how low you make contact with the ball, but assuming you are under pressure, it will probably be quite low.
A good pair drill to practice you lob is: P1 hits a boast, P2 hits a crosscourt lob, P1 hits a straight drive and P2 hits a boast and so on. After 5 minutes, swap sides. Start by hitting lowish lobs and get progressively more adventurous. You can even start with a serve, which is then hit straight and score the drill if you want to.
When under pressure at the front, switch to a defensive mentality and play a lob, it can give you time to recover, but if played well can turn defense into attack.