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Lob Bounce Out Rule
Results from the APTA Quick Poll
Poll taken by WSJ/CNN from September through October 2008. Poll results have a margin of error of 3 percent.
Don't Penalize Great Lobs - the Lob “Bounce Out” Rule
Scott MansagerSeptember 2, 2008
I’ve had a lot of discussions over the past couple of seasons with a number of players about the lob “bounce out” loss of point rule. I think this rule should definitely be changed for the following reasons:
1. Lobbing effectively in platform tennis requires a lot of skill in a 22’ deep court (note: a tennis service box is 21’ deep). Any lob hit high/deep enough to bounce out of the court would give the net team enough time to get under the ball and decide whether or not to play it out of the air. It is difficult to get your opponent much behind the service line with low trajectory lobs even if they would land deep untouched and the good overhead hitters handle the high/medium depth lobs pretty well. A higher trajectory lob would come down steeper and if hit deep enough would force the overhead hitter to take an additional step back thus creating more potential offensive opportunities for the backcourt team.
2. The old Vittert ball would rarely bounce out unless you hit a “sky lob”, but in warmer weather (above 45 degrees or so) the newer Viking and Wilson balls are bouncing out with some lobs that are hit just a little higher than the height of the lights. The risk/reward for the lobber trying to hit that high/deep lob in warmer weather is not worth it.
3. At the inaugural Premier Cup in 2005 the players voted to over ride this rule. I didn’t notice much of a difference in play. I saw 2 lobs bounce out for winners and that was because one of the players was late for the pre-match instructions and didn’t know about it, and the other did it on purpose at match point (down 0-5). Based on my experience playing at this event I think the fears are overblown that changing this rule would damage the game – for 2 reasons:
- Any lobber trying to get too “greedy” with hitting high/deep lobs is going to miss more and they will learn to tone it down.
- The net team will adapt to well hit high/deep lobs by playing them out of the air if they think it will land in and bounce out.
4. You can’t compare the “spike” overhead that bounces out of the court since almost anyone could do that off of a short lob to a skillful high/deep lob that has a certain degree of risk to it.
I guess the bottom line for me and some of the players that I talked to is that we don’t think it is right to penalize a skillful shot – especially a high/deep lob in a 22’ deep court where the net team has the option to play it out of the air. At the very least it shouldn’t be a loss of point.