How to Effectively Poach in Doubles

  1. Set the racquet in line with the oncoming ball (with your hitting hand or hands out in front of your body), coil with your hips and shoulders, drive the racquet head (leading with the butt end of the racquet) out towards the target and forcefully step in with your opposite foot to maximize the effectiveness of your volley. Close the net on a diagonal angle.  Get as close to the net as possible to hit the volley.
  2. Hit your volley at the feet of the opponent positioned at the net. When in a position to finish the point with an aggressive volley hit to an opening or at the opponent who has less time to respond.
  3. Poach or cross early in the match to get rid of early jitters and to immediately establish your presence at the net.
  4. Disguise your move (or cross). Time your move to leave just as your opponent gets into the set position and commits to hit cross court.
  5. Disguise your intention to move. Either go or fake a move and stay to disrupt the rhythm of your opponents and to keep them guessing as to your intention to move.  Avoid predictable patterns.  Aggressively move with your forehand and backhand (not just your strongest side).
  6. Communicate with your partner. When your partner is serving, use signals to direct the location of the serve.  It’s much easier to move in response to a serve hit down the middle.  Use signals to also let your partner know when you’re planning to go or not go.
  7. Don’t worry if you get passed down-the-line by your opponents. Aggressive play at the net is all about percentages and managing your risks.  Challenge your opponents to beat you down-the-line.  Redirecting a return or shot down-the-line is a difficult shot to make (particularly under pressure).
  8. Play the score and situation and look for every opportunity to help your partner. Strategically poach to help salvage a hold when your partner is struggling with his/her serve.  Strategically poach when up in the score to decisively close out a game (and demoralize your opponents).
  9. If you cross the center service line in moving to hit your volley continue to the other side of the court for coverage after the shot and advise your partner to cover your vacated side (switch).
  10. Have fun. It’s much more fun to be actively engaged in each and every point rather than being a passive observer when not serving or receiving serve.

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