I remember the first couple of months after I started playing padel there was this one shot that I just couldn’t get right. When I eventually worked out the technique it felt like I had finally shed the mantle of “absolute beginner“. I am talking about the “boosted” high lob off the back glass.
How to play against the back glass in padel:
- Get your racket more under the ball.
- Aim for near the top of the back glass.
- Use enough power to boost the ball up and over the net as a high lob.
- Don’t worry about spin as the ball will get all its spin from the contact with the back glass.
- Be aware of the angle of your shot as it is easy to boost the ball up and over the side fence.
Today we are going to cover the mechanics of the padel shot where you hit the ball against the back glass so that it goes over the net. We will look at when you should use the shot and how you should use the shot. I will also touch on the importance of communication from your partner while you are playing the shot.
When To Play The Back Glass
The ideal way to play any shot in padel is when your racket can impact the ball slightly forward of your center of balance. That is why racket sports coaches often talk about getting behind the ball.
The further the ball gets past you, the more difficult it becomes to play with any sort of power or control.
Luckily with padel, you have the back glass. If the ball has come past you either by way of a lob or passing shot, it will hit the glass and often bounce back to a position where you can again be behind the ball and play your return.
However, there will be those times when it is simply impossible to get behind the ball even after it has come off the glass. This can be either because the ball doesn’t bounce far enough away from the glass, leaving no space to get behind it, or you are too far away to get back before the dreaded second bounce.
Always remember that hitting against the back glass ought to be a last resort because it is a very defensive shot where you have little power or accuracy. If at all possible, get behind the ball so that you can play a more regular kind of padel shot.
This tends to be my problem. I have a tendency to avoid volleys because of a lack of confidence and tend to not move my feet fast enough. These two factors conspire to leave me playing against the back glass way more than I should. For me, practicing the key different padel volleys will be time well spent.
The Two Types Of Back Glass Shots
To start with, let’s look at the most common kind of shot that you will use off the back glass. It is also the one that we tend to learn first. I’m talking about the high lob off the back glass.
For this shot, you are going to have to hit your forehand or backhand aggressively upward at the top end of the glass with a lot of power to take the ball up high to lob over your opponents’ heads and come down beyond the service line.
At the same time, take care not to hit the fence above the glass as that is a fault and you will lose the point.
That being said, many players – especially beginners – don’t have the problem of hitting the fence above the glass. The more common problem is what happens when players aim too low on the glass in which case it goes across the net as a nice gentle volley which will be easy for your opponents.
Something else that I often see is when players hit high enough but they hit too softly in which case the ball doesn’t carry far enough to be an effective lob.
Obviously, if you hit too low and too soft the ball won’t even clear the net which is no good either.
The second type of shot that you play against the back glass is actually very similar to one that players often play by accident when trying to learn how to play the lob off the back glass.
The shot I am talking about is when you deliberately hit the ball lower into the glass so that it flies off lower and faster to drop low over the net. This kind of shot works when your opponents are at the back of the court.
It is important to note that getting this second shot right as a low and fast shot is much more difficult to play and requires a lot more practice.
How Your Partner Can Help
Once you have learned both of the types of shots that you can play off the back glass it then becomes a matter of which one do you play.
If your opponents stay back on the court then playing the low, faster shot will work. However, if they are at the net then lobbing them will give you the time to get back in position.
The trouble is that when you are moving back and getting ready to play your shot against the back glass, you will be facing the back of the court and therefore will have no idea whether your opponents have changed their position or not.
This is where your partner can help. If both opponents stay back, your partner will shout back/back or if they both move to the net the call can be front/front.
This is covered in greater detail in my article What You Should Say To Your Padel Partner (coming soon).
What tends to happen in most recreational padel games is that when you are running back to play your shot off the back glass, your partner turns to watch the ball until you play your shot – also facing the back of the court.
When you are both facing the back of the court neither of you can see how your opponents are moving on the court, meaning you won’t know which will be the better shot to play.
This video features three points played by the Ale/Ari team on the World Padel Tour. It shows how effective on-court communication between partners is. You should be able to clearly pick up the calls of “Detras/Detras” (back/back), “Tu” (you/tours), and “Corre/Corre” (run/run).
How To Practice The Lob Off The Back Glass
The good news is that to practice the lob off the back glass you don’t need a whole basket of balls like you would for more tricky shots like the smash of bandeja.
Just take a few balls and start with the forehand as it is much easier to hit the lob off the back glass with a forehand.
If you are starting out I would just try with the forehand to start with. The idea here is to just get a feel for how high on the glass you need to hit your lob. Once you know where on the glass to hit your lob, you can start adding power to lift the ball up and over where your opponent’s head would be.
Once you get a feeling for how high up the glass to aim as well as the power needed you will notice how the ball comes off the glass with a lot of slice-spin. This is good news because it is one less thing for you to worry about when playing this shot. Just get your aim and the power right and the spin will take care of itself.
It will not take many practice shots for you to get the basic feel for what you need to do. This will allow you to start using the high lob off the back glass in some of your games.
After you get more experienced with playing the forehand lob off the back glass you can return to the practice court and repeat the learning process on your backhand.