The Table Tennis Lob
Forehand Lob and Backhand Lob

Discover how to play a table tennis lob stroke.
The forehand lob and backhand lob are shown in my instructional video

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Table Tennis Forehand Lob

The lob shot is a defensive stroke which is played away from the table, usually in response to a stroke from your opponent which forces you away from the table and/or out of position.

Most players find that it's easier to play a forehand lob than a backhand lob but, because of this, your opponent will probably try to make you play a backhand lob more than a forehand lob.

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The objective of the lob

Whether you're playing a forehand lob or a backhand lob, the objective of this stroke is to play a long topspin stroke action which will cause the ball to travel in a high arc and land near the base line on your opponent's side of the table.

By making the ball travel in a high arc it will cause the ball to take longer to reach your opponent, which in turn will give you additional time in which to try to recover your position and/or make it difficult for your opponent to win the point.

You should always try to play the ball so that it lands near the base line on your opponent's side of the table as that will make it more difficult to smash. If the ball bounces closer to the net, then it's easier for your opponent to playing a winning smash.

However, in most cases, you'll probably have to play several lobs before you can regain the initiative in the rally, although in the majority of cases once you've been forced away from the table you'll never get the opportunity to get back to the table or play a winning stroke, and you'll lose the point.

But if you want to improve your chances of winning more table tennis matches, you'll need to develop and improve this stroke.


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Forehand Lob and Backhand Lob

In order to play the forehand lob, you need to adopt the ready position away from the table.

Your left foot will be slightly further forward than your right foot (if you're a right-handed player).

Your right shoulder then needs to rotate backwards and downwards until your racket is about knee height.

You then need to use a vertical brushing top spin action as you hit the ball.

You should aim to make contact with the ball around waist height, but that may vary depending on how your opponent has played his shot.

If you're not far enough away from the table, you may find that you have to hit the ball when it is higher than your waist, and you'll need to improvise.

After hitting the ball, your racket needs to follow through in an upward direction, finishing at about head height.

 

And to play the backhand lob, you need to start with your right foot slightly further forward than your left foot (if you're a right-handed player).

You then lower your racket arm downwards and to the side of your body.

Your backswing will take your racket below the ball and either between your legs or to the left side of your body in readiness to play your stroke.

Again, as with the forehand lob, you then need to use a vertical brushing top spin action as you hit the ball, making contact with the ball around waist height and following through in an upward direction, finishing at about head height.

So let's take a look at a video demonstration of the forehand lob and backhand lob.

(If you have problems with the sound, there are captions/subtitles that you can turn on. Just click on the captions/subtitles button)


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See it in action

Example 1

Here's an example of forehand and backhand lob returns by Jun Mizutani of Japan (blue shirt) in a match against the world number one, Fan Zhendong of China (red shirt).

Jun Mizutani is ranked in the top 5 of the world rankings.

In this example, Jun Mizutani gets forced away from the table by the strong attacking strokes of Fan Zhendong.

Watch how he tries to intersperse his lob returns with more aggressive returns, trying to find an opportunity to turn defence into attack. However, Fan Zhendong is too consistent and wins the point.


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Example 2

Here's an example of backhand lob returns by Hugo Calderano of Brazil (blue shirt) in a match against the world number one, Fan Zhendong of China (red shirt).

Hugo Calderano is ranked in the top 15 of the world rankings.

In this example, Hugo Calderano gets forced away from the table by the strong attacking strokes of Fan Zhendong.

Watch how he manages to play four good backhand lob returns which land close to the baseline of his opponent, but when the fifth backhand lob only bounces close to the net, Fan Zhendong wins the point with his smash.


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