Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce? - MensTennisForums.com
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 12:07 PM Thread Starter
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Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

I find myself screaming at the tv on many, many occasions when watching tennis

"LET THE BALL BOUNCE!!"

Seems like 90% of all defensive lobs are met with the opponent trying to smash the ball on its way down or drive volley it. Wouldn't it be easier, if the player just waited for the ball to bounce and THEN smash or place the ball in a winning position?

WHY?! It just does not make any sense at all.

Watching the Youzhny game against Keifer, the situation is 5-5 in the 3rd set and 40-40 on Youzhny's serve.

Keifer makes a defensive lob and stays in the left corner. Youzhny has an OPEN court and instead of letting the ball bounce, he tries to take it out of the air and smashes WIDE!

Break point to Keifer and he breaks. Game, set and match right there as Keifer holds to win 7-5.

LET THE GODDAMN BALL BOUNCE! Geez!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 12:26 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

Because it's way more cool.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 12:26 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

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Originally Posted by Monderoy View Post
I find myself screaming at the tv on many, many occasions when watching tennis

"LET THE BALL BOUNCE!!"

Seems like 90% of all defensive lobs are met with the opponent trying to smash the ball on its way down or drive volley it. Wouldn't it be easier, if the player just waited for the ball to bounce and THEN smash or place the ball in a winning position?

WHY?! It just does not make any sense at all.

Watching the Youzhny game against Keifer, the situation is 5-5 in the 3rd set and 40-40 on Youzhny's serve.

Keifer makes a defensive lob and stays in the left corner. Youzhny has an OPEN court and instead of letting the ball bounce, he tries to take it out of the air and smashes WIDE!

Break point to Keifer and he breaks. Game, set and match right there as Keifer holds to win 7-5.

LET THE GODDAMN BALL BOUNCE! Geez!
The answer is in your question. Youzhny wouldn't have had an open court by the time he left the ball to bounce. Also, if you take the ball on the full, you hit it more forward in the court and often from a greater height (if the bounce doesn't go high enough) so you can be more aggressive. Admittedly it is more risky, but they practice this shot a lot (even several times in each warm up) and should be able to make it most times.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 12:26 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

Hitting it before it bounces takes time away from the opponent, hence a reduced likelihood that the opponent will return it into play - particularly if as in Youzhny's case, he had an open court before him. Ultimately they have to make a judgement based on lateral court position, distance to the net, height of the lob and the movement of the opponent amongst other factors in determining whether or not hitting it before or after it bounces would be more effective.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

I see your points but I'm not sold on the player "taking time away from the opponent's return".

If the ball bounces, its a higher percentage shot to make.
The player still has the ability to choose his shot. In fact the player will have more time to choose his shot as he can analyze the opponent during the fall and bounce of the ball.

In my opinion, letting the ball bounce gives the player more control over the point.
Less risk. Higher % for shot making. More time to analyze the situation.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 12:54 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

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Originally Posted by Monderoy View Post
I see your points but I'm not sold on the player "taking time away from the opponent's return".

If the ball bounces, its a higher percentage shot to make.
The player still has the ability to choose his shot. In fact the player will have more time to choose his shot as he can analyze the opponent during the fall and bounce of the ball.

In my opinion, letting the ball bounce gives the player more control over the point.
Less risk. Higher % for shot making. More time to analyze the situation.
I agree completely. It's higher percentage play and he is giving himself more time to choose which way to go. Of course if the lob is high and your opponent gets back into a good court position then it's a bit of a moot point and you should probably let the ball bounce unless you're very confident about the outcome.

I was more alluding to a situation whereby hitting it before it bounces, he is able to go for the winner before his opponent has managed to get a good position on the court. Normally this shouldn't be an issue if the ball bounces in a favourable position and the smash is good, but there is always the chance that by allowing your opponent to find good position, you are opening up the possibility that he might return it. If you're particularly unlikely, you may see a 'smash lob' coming back at you. Like Federer did time and again against Roddick in Basel, Djokovic at the US Open, Koellerer at the Australian Open or Davydenko at the World Tour Finals. But of course that particular return in itself is such a low percentage shot in itself, you normally wouldn't have to worry.

So yes, in retrospect I would probably let the ball bounce 9 times out of 10. But it all depends upon the mechanics of the ball's flight path and the relative position of the players on the court. And plus these decisions have to be made in a split second, so retrospective analysis may well show that the pros don't get it right all the time.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 12:55 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

I agree with letting it bounce if the lob is too high. The height of the lob gives the other guy a chance to return it anyway, so the cutting down of the time isn;t as big an issue. Plus if you let it bounce it can give you time to maybe see which way the other guy is leaning to run to and you can hit it the other way.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

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Originally Posted by ApproachShot View Post
I agree completely. It's higher percentage play and he is giving himself more time to choose which way to go. I was more alluding to the fact that by hitting it before it bounces, he is able to go for the winner before his opponent has managed to get a good position on the court.

Normally this shouldn't be an issue if the ball bounces in a favourable position and the smash is good, but there is always the chance that by allowing your opponent to find good position, you are opening up the possibility that he might return it. If you're particularly unlikely, you may see a 'smash lob' coming back at you. Like Federer did time and again against Roddick in Basel, Djokovic at the US Open, Koellerer at the Australian Open or Davydenko at the World Tour Finals. But of course that particular return in itself is such a low percentage shot in itself, you normally wouldn't have to worry.

So yes, in retrospect I would probably let the ball bounce 9 times out of 10. But it all depends upon the mechanics of the ball's flight path and the relative position of the players on the court. And plus these decisions have to be made in a split second, so retrospective analysis may well show that the pros don't get it right all the time.
We agree then that its a judgment call. I would wait for the bounce but each point is unique and each player has their own style / self belief. Watching those shots go wide usually turns into a "head in hand" moment when the player missing the shot realizes he had an open court
I'm sure too that he's asking himself..."why didn't I let it bounce"?
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 01:14 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

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Originally Posted by StatRacket View Post
The answer is in your question. Youzhny wouldn't have had an open court by the time he left the ball to bounce. Also, if you take the ball on the full, you hit it more forward in the court and often from a greater height (if the bounce doesn't go high enough) so you can be more aggressive. Admittedly it is more risky, but they practice this shot a lot (even several times in each warm up) and should be able to make it most times.
This is the correct answer. Both points are correct.

I bolded the part that some people aren't taking into account in this thread. Taking the ball before the bounce gives you a shot closer to the net and thus you can be more agressive. If you expect the bounce then you're likely to have to smash the ball not as a closer to the net as you would have if you had decided to smash it before it hit the floor and thus you'll most likely not be able to hit the smash with as much power and aggressive-ness as you would have liked to initially.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 01:28 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

I'm sure that they just think at our entertainment. At least Djokovic, I bet
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 01:34 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

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Originally Posted by andy neyer View Post
If you expect the bounce then you're likely to have to smash the ball not as a closer to the net as you would have if you had decided to smash it before it hit the floor and thus you'll most likely not be able to hit the smash with as much power and aggressive-ness as you would have liked to initially.
Yup, let it bounce and most of the time you're smashing from the baseline. Unless you're Roddick or Federer, it's pretty hard to reliably hit winners from there, especially after you've often had to backpedal rapidly to get there, and your opponent is now in a better defensive position.

Even if you make a total fool of yourself 20% of the time smashing tricky lobs in the air, that's better than you'll do smashing later, and from further back.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 01:38 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

If you let the ball bounce, not only does it give your opponent time to get into decent position, but more importantly, you don't know where the ball is going to bounce.

If the topspin lob is good enough, it may bounce over your head if you don't take it out of the air.

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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 05:41 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

Because it's more offensive and rewarding to take the ball out of the air, instead of potentially allowing your opponent back into the point by waiting for it to bounce.

Also, as has been said, if you let it bounce, you don't know where it could land, which could lead to a sticky situation and the player ending up being off balance while hitting the shot or not able to get power on the smash.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 06:02 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

if its on clay or grass, theres always the chance that it could bounce funny
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 08:12 PM
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Re: Why do players INSIST on not letting Lobs bounce?

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Originally Posted by StatRacket View Post
The answer is in your question. Youzhny wouldn't have had an open court by the time he left the ball to bounce. Also, if you take the ball on the full, you hit it more forward in the court and often from a greater height (if the bounce doesn't go high enough) so you can be more aggressive. Admittedly it is more risky, but they practice this shot a lot (even several times in each warm up) and should be able to make it most times.
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Originally Posted by Johnny Charmer View Post
If you let the ball bounce, not only does it give your opponent time to get into decent position, but more importantly, you don't know where the ball is going to bounce.

If the topspin lob is good enough, it may bounce over your head if you don't take it out of the air.
This.

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The methods and drugs used by Armstrong in 1999 would work in tennis right now, with zero chance of being caught (not slightly surprising to anyone familiar with the topic, btw).
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