Poaching in doubles is a great way to cause a disturbance to your opponents’ return game. A real successful poach is one that if possible, is a planned move between you and your partner. For example, if I have a great first serve my partner’s instinct should be to poach and as the server I am anticipating her movement. There are two ways that poaching can become the wrong move. If you decide to poach on a ball that you cannot put away or move backwards or sideways your poach will all of the sudden become a put-away ball for your opponent. I see so many net players that seem to go for any ball they can reach with their racquet. How many times have you seen a player at the net go for the wrong ball and pop it right back to the opponents and they hit a winning lob over your head?
The problem with poaching usually lies not in the planning, but in the execution. Many times a player will move in a line parallel to the net when they poach-or worse, backwards. In doing so, two problems arise that can cause a bad shot. First, the player poaching is still a good distance from the net making it difficult to put the ball away. The closer to the net you are the more offensive you can be with the shot. Second, being too far away from the net gives the ball more time to drop to your feet after crossing the net. Remember, the lower the ball the tougher the volley. As a net player who likes to poach, remember that not only do you cause a disturbance to the opponents but if you make the wrong move, it can cause an even greater disturbance to your partner at the baseline if you do not put the ball away. Poaching is an aggressive play and when you commit to it; the ball should be put away for a winner.