Lag shots are an essential part of tennis, but mastering them can be a challenge for many players. In this article, we will explore the techniques and drills that can help you perfect your lag shot execution. From understanding the basics of the shot to developing the right footwork and stroke, we will cover everything you need to know to become a pro at hitting lag shots. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and tips to improve your game. So, get ready to take your tennis skills to the next level with our comprehensive guide on mastering lag shots!

Understanding Lag Shots

Definition and Importance

Lag shots refer to the process of hitting a golf ball in such a way that it lands softly on the green, rolls out gradually, and comes to a stop close to the target. This shot is called a lag shot because it involves “lagging” the ball back towards the hole, rather than hitting it with full power and accuracy. Lag shots are crucial for golfers because they enable them to hit approach shots with precision, even when the ball is farther away from the hole or when the green is fast and difficult to manage. Lag shots also help golfers to manage their pace and maintain control over their shots, especially in situations where accuracy is more important than distance.

Lag shots are essential for golfers of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. They allow golfers to manage their ball placement and avoid difficult situations, such as being in a bunker or having to navigate around hazards. Lag shots can also help golfers to save strokes and improve their scores, especially on challenging holes where a small mistake can lead to a big penalty. By mastering lag shots, golfers can improve their overall game and become more consistent in their performance.

To master lag shots, golfers need to understand the different techniques and drills involved. They need to learn how to control their ball flight, adjust their swing speed, and manage their ball spin. Lag shots require a combination of precision, accuracy, and control, and golfers need to practice these skills consistently to achieve mastery. By dedicating time to practicing lag shots, golfers can improve their ability to hit approach shots with confidence and precision, and achieve better results on the golf course.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One of the most common mistakes in executing lag shots is over-reliance on hands. Players tend to use too much wrist action and not enough body rotation, which can lead to an inaccurate shot. Another mistake is not rotating the body enough, resulting in a lack of power and control. Lastly, players often place the ball in an incorrect position, which can affect the trajectory and direction of the shot. To master lag shots, it is important to avoid these common mistakes and focus on proper technique and body mechanics.

Lag Shot Techniques

Key takeaway: Lag shots are essential for golfers to hit approach shots with precision, even when the ball is farther away from the hole or when the green is fast and difficult to manage. Mastering lag shots requires understanding the different techniques and drills involved, such as proper setup, grip, and stance, as well as swing mechanics, and maintaining control. Practicing lag shot drills regularly can significantly improve one’s ability to execute lag shots with precision and confidence.

Address Position

Proper Setup for Lag Shots

When setting up for a lag shot, it is crucial to establish a stable and balanced position. Golfers should stand with their feet shoulder-width apart, allowing for a smooth and natural swing. It is essential to maintain a slightly open stance to ensure that the clubface is pointing in the right direction, particularly for a right-handed golfer. This open stance also promotes a smooth transition from the top of the swing to the downswing, ensuring a smooth and consistent strike.

Aligning Body and Clubface

Another critical aspect of the address position is the alignment of the body and the clubface. Golfers should aim to position the clubface slightly behind the ball, ensuring that it points left of the target for a right-handed golfer. This alignment allows for a smooth and controlled release of the clubhead through the ball, promoting a draw bias and helping to keep the ball on line. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that the shoulders are square to the target line, promoting a natural and efficient swing.

Grip and Stance

A crucial aspect of mastering lag shots is the grip and stance. These two elements play a significant role in controlling and balancing the cue during the shot. Here are some details to consider:

Neutral Grip

The neutral grip is a common technique used by players to ensure stability and accuracy when taking lag shots. It involves placing the index finger on the cue tip and the middle finger at the center of the butt plate. The remaining fingers are positioned with the ring finger resting on the shaft and the pinky finger extending naturally.

Stance for Control and Balance

Proper stance is essential for maintaining balance and control during the shot. A good stance for lag shots involves:

  • Feet shoulder-width apart for stability
  • Knees slightly bent to allow for flexibility
  • Weight distributed evenly on both feet
  • Torso facing the direction of the shot
  • Arms relaxed and in line with the shoulders
  • Cue extended in front of the body, with the tip pointing towards the target

It’s important to note that every player’s body type and shot style may require slight adjustments to the stance. Experiment with different stances to find the one that works best for you.

Swing Mechanics

When it comes to mastering lag shots, the swing mechanics play a crucial role in the execution of the shot. To perfect this technique, it is important to focus on the following elements:

Separating the ball from the hole

The first step in executing a successful lag shot is to separate the ball from the hole. This means that the golfer must use a technique that allows them to get the ball off the ground and onto the green, without being affected by the hole location or the contours of the green.

One way to achieve this is to use a higher lofted club, such as a sand wedge or lob wedge, which allows the golfer to get the ball up in the air and over any obstacles that may be in the way. Additionally, using a slower, more controlled swing can help the golfer keep the ball on the green and avoid any severe slices or hooks.

Accelerating through the ball

Another important element of swing mechanics in lag shots is accelerating through the ball. This means that the golfer must use a technique that allows them to build up speed and power as they approach the ball, but still maintain control over the shot.

One way to achieve this is to use a longer, more fluid swing that allows the golfer to build up speed and power without losing control over the shot. Additionally, using a smooth, continuous motion can help the golfer keep the ball on the green and avoid any severe slices or hooks.

Keeping the body rotated

Finally, keeping the body rotated is also an important element of swing mechanics in lag shots. This means that the golfer must use a technique that allows them to keep their body turned and facing the target throughout the swing, without losing control over the shot.

One way to achieve this is to use a slower, more controlled swing that allows the golfer to keep their body turned and facing the target throughout the shot. Additionally, using a smooth, continuous motion can help the golfer keep the ball on the green and avoid any severe slices or hooks.

By focusing on these three elements of swing mechanics, golfers can improve their ability to execute lag shots with precision and control. With practice and patience, even the most challenging lag shots can be mastered.

Maintaining Control

One of the key elements of mastering lag shots is maintaining control over the various factors that affect the shot’s outcome. Here are some techniques to help you achieve this:

  • Adjusting the speed and loft of the club: Golfers often need to adjust the speed and loft of their shots to achieve the desired trajectory and distance. To do this, pay attention to the ball position in your stance and the angle of attack. Slower swing speeds and lower loft angles produce lower, shorter shots, while faster swing speeds and higher loft angles produce higher, longer shots.
  • Managing trajectory and spin: Trajectory and spin are crucial factors in determining the shot’s final destination. High trajectory shots tend to have more backspin, which helps the ball stop quickly on the green. Conversely, low trajectory shots tend to have less backspin, resulting in the ball rolling further after landing. To manage trajectory and spin, adjust your swing path and the loft of your club.
  • Maintaining a smooth and consistent swing: A smooth and consistent swing is essential for maintaining control over the shot. To achieve this, focus on a smooth and rhythmic motion throughout the swing, using your body’s natural movements. Avoid any sudden or jerky movements, which can disrupt the shot’s accuracy and distance. Additionally, pay attention to your balance and posture, as these factors also contribute to a smooth and consistent swing.

Lag Shot Drills

Drill 1: Elevator Drill

The Elevator Drill is a critical exercise that focuses on improving the execution of lag shots. It helps in developing the necessary skills to hit the ball with accuracy and control, which is crucial in pressure situations. The drill is named so because it involves moving the ball up and down in a vertical plane, simulating the trajectory of a lag shot.

Purpose and steps:

The purpose of this drill is to enhance the player’s ability to hit the ball with the desired spin and control, keeping it within the court limits. The steps for performing the Elevator Drill are as follows:

  1. Start by standing in the backcourt, with the racket at the ready position.
  2. The ball should be tossed to the player by a partner or an automated feeder, set at a moderate height.
  3. As the ball approaches, the player should initiate the forward swing, ensuring that the racquet face is directed towards the target.
  4. Make contact with the ball, focusing on imparting a slight upward spin to create a rising trajectory.
  5. Continue the follow-through and complete the swing, while maintaining a focused gaze on the ball’s path.
  6. Repeat the process, ensuring consistent ball placement and a controlled shot trajectory.

Tips for success:

Mastering the Elevator Drill requires a few key tips to ensure successful execution:

  1. Maintain a smooth and continuous swing: Avoid any abrupt changes in the racquet head’s speed or direction, as this can disrupt the shot’s trajectory.
  2. Focus on spin and control: Emphasize imparting an upward spin to the ball, as this will be crucial in controlling its path during the shot.
  3. Use a controlled toss: A partner or feeder should toss the ball at a consistent height, enabling the player to practice hitting it with the desired trajectory.
  4. Practice consistency: Repeat the drill multiple times, aiming for a consistent ball placement and shot trajectory, even as the drill becomes more challenging.
  5. Experiment with different racquet angles: Try using different racquet angles during the swing to explore the effect on the shot’s trajectory and control.

By diligently practicing the Elevator Drill, players can significantly improve their ability to execute lag shots with precision and confidence, making it an indispensable component of their training regimen.

Drill 2: One-Handed Lag Shot Drill

Purpose and Steps

The One-Handed Lag Shot Drill is designed to help players develop the skills necessary to execute a successful lag shot with one hand. This drill is ideal for those who prefer to play with one hand or for those who want to improve their proficiency in using one hand for shooting.

The steps involved in this drill are as follows:

  1. Start by standing about 10 feet away from the basket.
  2. Hold the ball with one hand, with your fingers spread out across the seams.
  3. Take a smooth and controlled shot, aiming for the backboard.
  4. As you release the ball, use your off-hand to guide it gently towards the basket.
  5. Repeat the process for at least 10-15 shots, focusing on form and consistency.

Tips for Success

Here are some tips to help you succeed in the One-Handed Lag Shot Drill:

  1. Use a lightweight ball to reduce strain on your hand and wrist.
  2. Keep your shooting arm straight and your elbow locked to ensure a smooth shot.
  3. Focus on the backboard, not the basket, to ensure proper aim.
  4. Practice good footwork, taking quick and efficient steps towards the basket after each shot.
  5. Don’t be afraid to use your off-hand to provide support and guidance to the ball.

By following these tips and practicing regularly, you can master the One-Handed Lag Shot Drill and improve your shooting skills.

Drill 3: Waggling Drill

The Waggling Drill is a fundamental exercise that helps table tennis players develop the crucial skill of executing lag shots effectively. It focuses on improving the wrist movement and developing a consistent and controlled motion when hitting the ball. Here’s a step-by-step guide to this drill:

Purpose and steps:

  1. Stand at the table, gripping the bat with a neutral grip.
  2. Bring the bat back to the ready position, with the tip of the blade pointing towards the floor.
  3. As the ball approaches, lift the bat in an upward motion, keeping it parallel to the net.
  4. Accelerate the bat as it passes the vertical position, brushing the ball in a forward motion.
  5. Maintain a smooth and continuous wrist movement, ensuring that the bat’s angle changes as the ball moves towards the net.
  6. Continue practicing this motion, aiming to hit the ball with control and accuracy, keeping it low over the net.

Tips for success:

  1. Focus on maintaining a neutral grip and a relaxed wrist throughout the drill.
  2. Keep your eyes on the ball, tracking its trajectory to anticipate its direction.
  3. Pay attention to your footwork, ensuring you’re in the correct position to execute the shot.
  4. Practice this drill with both forehand and backhand shots, alternating between the two to develop a consistent technique.
  5. Experiment with different ball speeds and spins to become comfortable with adapting to various playing conditions.
  6. Use video analysis or ask a coach to review your technique, making adjustments as needed to improve your lag shot execution.

Drill 4: Delayed Shoulder Turn Drill

  • Purpose and steps

The Delayed Shoulder Turn Drill is designed to improve the golfer’s ability to execute lag shots by developing the necessary body movement and tempo. This drill focuses on the delayed shoulder turn, which is a crucial aspect of lag shots as it allows for a more powerful and accurate shot.

  • Tips for success

To successfully perform this drill, follow these tips:

  1. Start with a comfortable stance and grip on the club.
  2. Slowly take a backswing, focusing on a smooth and controlled movement.
  3. At the top of the backswing, pause for a moment to establish a delay before starting the downswing.
  4. During the downswing, allow the left shoulder to turn slightly before the chest, maintaining a slight delay.
  5. Finish with a full follow-through, ensuring that the club is parallel to the ground at impact.
  6. Repeat the drill several times, focusing on the delayed shoulder turn and maintaining a smooth tempo throughout the swing.

By practicing the Delayed Shoulder Turn Drill, golfers can develop the necessary body movement and tempo for executing lag shots with power and accuracy.

Lag Shot Strategies

Choosing the Right Club

Choosing the right club is crucial when attempting a lag shot. The wrong club selection can lead to an off-target shot or even a lost ball. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right club for a lag shot:

  • Type of shot: Different clubs have different loft angles, which affect the trajectory and distance of the shot. For a lag shot, a lower loft angle is preferred to keep the ball low and rolling on the ground. A sand wedge or lob wedge with a loft angle of 54-60 degrees is often used for lag shots.
  • Distance to the target: The distance to the target should also be considered when choosing the right club. A shorter distance may require a higher loft angle to keep the ball airborne and reach the target. However, for a lag shot, a lower loft angle is still preferred to keep the ball on the ground and roll towards the target.
  • Surface conditions: The surface conditions of the course can also affect the choice of club. If the course has soft or wet conditions, a higher loft angle may be necessary to prevent the ball from getting stuck in the rough. However, for a lag shot, a lower loft angle is still preferred to keep the ball on the ground and roll towards the target.

Here are some club selection tips for choosing the right club for a lag shot:

  • Practice with different clubs: It’s important to practice with different clubs to find the one that works best for your swing and the conditions of the course.
  • Consider the wind conditions: If there is a wind blowing across the course, it may affect the choice of club. A higher loft angle may be necessary to compensate for the wind and keep the ball airborne.
  • Choose a club that feels comfortable: It’s important to choose a club that feels comfortable in your hands. A club that feels uncomfortable or awkward may lead to an off-target shot.

By considering these factors and tips, you can choose the right club for a lag shot and improve your chances of hitting the target.

Reading Greens

Understanding the effects of grain and slope

In golf, understanding the effects of grain and slope on the green is crucial for successful lag shots. Grain refers to the direction in which the grass blades are growing, while slope refers to the angle of the ground. Both grain and slope can significantly affect the speed and direction of a golf ball, and knowing how to adjust for them is essential for executing a successful lag shot.

Making adjustments for uphill and downhill shots

When facing an uphill shot, the ball will tend to travel less distance due to gravity, so the golfer needs to adjust their swing to compensate for this. On the other hand, a downhill shot will travel further due to gravity, so the golfer needs to swing more smoothly to prevent the ball from rolling past the target. By adjusting the swing for these different shot types, golfers can increase their chances of successfully executing a lag shot.

Mental Game

  • Building confidence
    • Belief in one’s abilities: To execute a lag shot successfully, a player must believe in their own skills and ability to control the cue stick. Building confidence in one’s abilities is crucial, as it helps the player to focus on the task at hand and not become overwhelmed by the pressure of the situation.
    • Visualization techniques: Visualizing the shot before executing it can help a player to build confidence and to see the shot through to completion. Visualization techniques can be used to imagine the perfect shot, including the perfect contact point, the perfect angle, and the perfect speed.
  • Managing expectations
    • Setting realistic goals: Players must set realistic goals for themselves when it comes to executing lag shots. Expecting to make every shot is unrealistic and can lead to frustration and disappointment. Instead, players should focus on making the best shot possible given the circumstances.
    • Adapting to changing circumstances: Lag shots are often executed in fast-paced, high-pressure situations. Players must be able to adapt to changing circumstances, such as a change in the position of the ball or a change in the position of their opponent.
  • Staying focused during play
    • Eliminating distractions: Players must eliminate any distractions that could affect their focus during play. This includes distractions such as noise, movement, and other players.
    • Concentration techniques: Concentration techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and mental imagery can help players to stay focused during play. These techniques can help players to clear their minds and to concentrate on the task at hand.
    • Staying present: Players must stay present in the moment and avoid getting ahead of themselves. This means staying focused on the current shot and not worrying about future shots or outcomes. By staying present, players can ensure that they give their best effort on every shot.

Visualization and Practice

Importance of Visualization

Visualization is a powerful tool in mastering lag shots. It allows a player to mentally rehearse the mechanics of a shot, improving muscle memory and enhancing the overall execution of the shot. Visualization helps a player to develop a clear mental image of the desired shot outcome, including the trajectory, spin, and speed of the ball. This mental practice helps a player to identify and correct any flaws in their shot technique, enabling them to execute the shot with greater accuracy and consistency.

Incorporating Lag Shot Practice into Your Routine

To master lag shots, it is essential to incorporate regular practice into your routine. Start by dedicating a specific time each day to practice lag shots, gradually increasing the frequency and duration of your practice sessions.

It is also important to incorporate a variety of drills into your practice routine to develop different aspects of your lag shot technique. For example, you can practice hitting the ball with different spins, speeds, and trajectories to improve your ability to control the ball and execute various shots.

In addition to practicing your lag shots, it is important to focus on your overall physical fitness and conditioning. Tennis requires a high level of physical fitness, and regular exercise can help to improve your stamina, endurance, and agility on the court.

Finally, it is important to stay focused and motivated during your practice sessions. Set goals for yourself and track your progress to help you stay motivated and committed to improving your lag shot technique. Remember that mastering lag shots takes time and dedication, but with consistent practice and visualization, you can achieve success on the court.


1. What is a lag shot in tennis?

A lag shot in tennis is a slow, soft shot hit with the back of the racquet, close to the handle, and usually hit from a far distance from the net. It is often used as an offensive strategy to set up a point or to simply keep the ball in play.

2. What are the benefits of hitting a lag shot?

Hitting a lag shot can help you control the pace of the game, set up your opponent for an error, and keep the ball in play when you are not in a good position to hit an aggressive shot. It also allows you to recover from an error and stay in the point.

3. How do you hit a lag shot?

To hit a lag shot, start by taking a full backswing and using a continuous motion to bring the racquet head down and around in a semicircular path, making contact with the ball near the center of the string bed. Use a soft grip and keep your wrists loose to ensure a smooth, controlled shot.

4. What are some common mistakes to avoid when hitting a lag shot?

One common mistake is to hit the ball too hard, which can cause it to go out of bounds or give your opponent an opportunity to hit a winning shot. Another mistake is to use too much topspin, which can cause the ball to bounce too high and give your opponent an advantage. To avoid these mistakes, focus on keeping the ball low and using a neutral or slight backspin.

5. How can I practice hitting lag shots?

To practice hitting lag shots, start by hitting them against a wall or a basket. Focus on keeping the ball in play and getting it to bounce in the desired area of the court. You can also practice hitting lag shots during a match, by using them as a way to keep the ball in play and set up future shots.

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