Why aren't you poaching more? You know you should be and yet, you're so afraid that you'll get caught with a down-the-line return from your opponent that you keep standing there, flat-footed at the net and you never take a chance on poaching. But have you tried fake poaching? Fake poaching might be your ticket to poaching success. In this episode, I'll explain what fake poaching is and why you should give it a try in your next match. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
If you play doubles, and most of us do, you know you should be poaching. But maybe you aren't. Or maybe you're not poaching as often as you'd like to be. Why is that? Are you afraid you'll get burned by your opponent's down the line return? Are you worried that your partner will get mad at you if you miss the poach? Are you confused about exactly how to poach? Well, if you're having any of these thoughts then the answer for you may be to give fake poaching a try.
What is Fake Poaching?
So just what is fake poaching? Well, it's exactly what it sounds like. Fake poaching occurs when you pretend that you're going to poach by making a move that looks like you're about to poach, but then you don't. It sounds simple. In fact, it sounds like it couldn't possibly work. But it can and often does and it can work for players at all levels. Even the pros use fake poaching.
The Mental Value of the Fake Poach
And why, you may ask, does the fake poach work? Because it can lead your returning opponent to believe that you may be poaching and can therefore cause them to hit a weaker return then they might otherwise hit. It's also a great way to just get in your opponent's head, to put the thought in there that anytime you're at the net, you just might poach.
How to Fake Poach
So here are the quick and easy steps to start fake poaching:
1. Decide to fake poach. It will help you mentally if you actively tell yourself that you are going to fake poach. You can give yourself a real mental boost just by making the decision that you are going to put this tactic into play.
2. Tell your partner what you're doing. Tell your partner what you are doing so he or she is not surprised when you fake and don't actually complete the poach. The worst thing that can happen is that your partner does not know you're faking, that he or she switches sides thinking you're also switching, and then no one is there to take the ball when it's returned. So make sure you communicate with your partner.
3. Take a good first step. This is the most important part of the poach. Make your sure you get your opponent’s attention and give them the message that you may poach by taking a strong, obvious, loud first step.
4. Push back to your position. With the foot you’ve used to take your strong first step, push off and get yourself back into position at the net. You want to be in a ready position for whatever happens next.
5. Play out the point. Be prepared for whatever return comes back. If you’ve been effective, you can expect it to be weak and you should be ready to possibly put it away. In other words, your fake poach may become a real poach!
Now, I hope after going through those steps you can see how simple and effective fake poaching can be. And I really hope you'll give this tactic a try in your very next doubles match.
Free Poaching and Fake Poaching Tip Sheet
If you'd like to go over these fake poaching tips more closely AND go over the poaching tips I gave in a previous episode of Tennis Quick Tips, I've put all of those tips together in a one-page tip sheet called “How to Poach and Fake Poach in Tennis.” This tip sheet has my four tips for poaching that came out of Tennis Quick Tips Episode 2 – Start Poaching Now, as well as my five tips for fake poaching from this episode. To download the tip sheet (it's a pdf file), just click on this image:
Let me know how your fake poaching and actual poaching attempts go by leaving a comment below. I'd love to hear how your doubles matches are going!
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE:
- Link to PDF File – “How to Poach and Fake Poach” Tip Sheet
- Tennis Quick Tips Episode 2 – Start Poaching Now
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