Let's say you're a decent doubles player but you're not an incredible poacher. That doesn't mean that you never poach. Poaching is such an important strategy in doubles tennis play. A good poacher puts tremendous pressure on her opponents and disrupts their return of serve. But even if you aren't a great poacher, making some attempts at the poach will throw your opponents off balance. It forces them to consider making the down-the-line return which is never an easy shot.
So, if you're not poaching much, increase the number of times you try. Let your partner know to be prepared for your attempts. And, if nothing else, try some fake poaches – take a step towards the center line just as your opponent goes to hit her return. Make a body movement as if you will be poaching. This could draw your opponent into making a change in her plans, hitting either a poorly executed down-the-line return or a sloppy cross court shot that is easy to pick off.
© Kim Selzman 2009
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