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ten10
12-21-2008, 09:45 AM
Is it best if when a person poaches for that person to continue in that direction across the court and their partner to cut in behind them to cover the other side?

I am primarily a singles player, but have been playing more doubles. To me, it makes sense to do the above. Still because I primarily play singles in USTA (one doubles match last season) I don't want to be the one directing or choreographying play on the court. I'm a 4.5 but so are my teammates, who are the doubles "experts".

Either way, though, I feel like I should know what they are going to do because I usually serve and volley--but can't really do that if one second they are in the middle and the next.....who knows.

sphinx780
12-21-2008, 10:11 AM
I play mostly 4.5 and the occasional 5.0 dubs but still would never say I'm an expert. In most cases when poaching, the net man is expected to finish and cross for the best court coverage. That enables you to continue to serve and volley to the opposite side and gain position at net over your opponents.

One question I have, is the net player signalling poach or stay before the point starts? If so, then I would say the above holds true. If there is no signal and the net person is just being aggressive at going for a weak return over the middle, then it would be best to talk with your partner and make a decision on which way he goes once he makes that move so you can cover the open court. Deciding this will also determine where should direct a put away over the middle to keep the net effectively closed off to your opponents.

From my experience, the best dubs teams are the ones who are consistent in all their actions so they know where/when their partner will be in the court and they can play the percentages.

JavierLW
12-21-2008, 10:17 AM
Is it best if when a person poaches for that person to continue in that direction across the court and their partner to cut in behind them to cover the other side?

I am primarily a singles player, but have been playing more doubles. To me, it makes sense to do the above. Still because I primarily play singles in USTA (one doubles match last season) I don't want to be the one directing or choreographying play on the court. I'm a 4.5 but so are my teammates, who are the doubles "experts".

Either way, though, I feel like I should know what they are going to do because I usually serve and volley--but can't really do that if one second they are in the middle and the next.....who knows.

That's why sometimes teams signal, so the server knows what they are doing. If you can deal with signalling and it doesnt take away from your serving (because it's distracting for some people), then you should do that.

But otherwise you need to just keep your eye on the ball regardless of what your partner is doing and always have the mindset that you are going to hit it even if your partner manages to do something with it first.

You may be right, it would be better if they went full across and you knew enough to cover their side, but it's still better to have them try to go for the ball, rather than to just stand around and assume you are taking it. (because it puts more pressure on the returner and gives you less area to worry about when you serve and volley)

blakesq
12-21-2008, 12:34 PM
If you serve down the "t", you should be ready for your partner to poach. If you serve out wide, your partner should not be poaching. You probably want to discuss this with your partner.


That's why sometimes teams signal, so the server knows what they are doing. If you can deal with signalling and it doesnt take away from your serving (because it's distracting for some people), then you should do that.

But otherwise you need to just keep your eye on the ball regardless of what your partner is doing and always have the mindset that you are going to hit it even if your partner manages to do something with it first.

You may be right, it would be better if they went full across and you knew enough to cover their side, but it's still better to have them try to go for the ball, rather than to just stand around and assume you are taking it. (because it puts more pressure on the returner and gives you less area to worry about when you serve and volley)

LuckyR
12-21-2008, 05:13 PM
Is it best if when a person poaches for that person to continue in that direction across the court and their partner to cut in behind them to cover the other side?

I am primarily a singles player, but have been playing more doubles. To me, it makes sense to do the above. Still because I primarily play singles in USTA (one doubles match last season) I don't want to be the one directing or choreographying play on the court. I'm a 4.5 but so are my teammates, who are the doubles "experts".

Either way, though, I feel like I should know what they are going to do because I usually serve and volley--but can't really do that if one second they are in the middle and the next.....who knows.


In my experience there is no "rule" on this question. At the higher levels and I would put 4.5 in this category, the poach is going to likely be either a putaway of a set up for a putaway, that is the goal if the poach shot is returned, is for the poacher to hit the return. Of course only the poacher is going to know the exact circumstance of his shot (whether he is hitting with a lot of pace, wide, or behind the netman etc) so the poacher's opinion of where to go to best cover the next shot is essential. The nonpoaching partner is his backup and should adjust accordingly to be there on the odd chance that the return gets by the poacher. True that sometimes leads to the I formation, which at first glance is a terrible position but often the only shot that will get by a good poacher will be a lob and the I formation is usually adequate to cover it.

Occasionally the opposing netman may get a wide shot off of the poach by the netman and his partner but that will be unusual, whereas if the poacher goes to a predetermined spot and covers only one side of the court (as opposed to the center of possible returns) then the opposing player has a 50% chance of getting his return to the poacher's partner, who usually is not in a position to put the ball away and so the point continues instead of being terminated.

ten10
12-21-2008, 07:04 PM
If you serve down the "t", you should be ready for your partner to poach. If you serve out wide, your partner should not be poaching. You probably want to discuss this with your partner.

I'm a lefty and first serve is a slice down the t to the deuce court and out wide to the add court (I do mix it up--it is a tough spin for opponents to handle though). My partners are able to take advantage of the weak returns. I just would like them to keep going in case the poach didn't result in a winner or put-away. I'm very quick, so that isn't an issue.

We haven't been using signals. They seem confusing to me. Unless or until you've seen how your opponents handle certain serves--only then can you predict their return.......I dunno

I just didn't want to make a suggestion to my partner without finding out what other people do. But I find, if I can't predict what my partner will do, that I start staying back---singles comfort zone--then work my way in.

Kaptain Karl
12-21-2008, 07:33 PM
Is it best if when a person poaches for that person to continue in that direction across the court and their partner to cut in behind them to cover the other side?Yes ... almost all the time.

... I don't want to be the one directing or choreographying play on the court. I'm a 4.5 but so are my teammates, who are the doubles "experts".I'm a HS Coach. I tell my boys the Net Man is like the Catcher in Baseball. He "calls" the plays with his signal. (My kids signal for location and whether or not it's "Poach" "Stay" or "Fake". Some teams' signals are so sophisticated, they are also signaling which spin for the Serve. (That's too much, IMO, but if they can do it ... great.)

And -- as in Baseball -- the Server (Pitcher) can decline that signal. (I say "3 'No' responses and you should stop signaling and just quickly get together and talk.")

Either way, though, I feel like I should know what they are going to do because I usually serve and volley--but can't really do that if one second they are in the middle and the next.....who knows.If the poacher doesn't keep crossing it's because of a "broken play" if you ask me.

- KK

Nellie
12-21-2008, 08:12 PM
A good doubles player would continue across because the poach cues the server/returner to switch sides. If the net person stops, the back person will then need to return the other side while moving forward and sideways in a fast sprint to cover the sideline

TonyB
12-21-2008, 09:06 PM
If it's not a predetermined play, then the netman has the option of pulling back on the poach, depending on how well the return is struck.

If the return is low and angling away from the poacher, then it is best let go. There is absolutely no purpose in forcing a play that just isn't smart.

If, however, a poach is determined before the serve as a "set play", then the net man is committed and should follow through with the poach, regardless of the return.

The server has the responsibility to be able to "read the play" and follow the poacher, as long as the poach isn't predetermined.

So let it be written. So shall it be done.

mikeler
12-22-2008, 06:35 AM
Each player is responsible for one half of the court. If the net man poaches, he should go all the way and cover the other half of the court. As for signals, I find that the Poach/No Poach signal works best for me. I don't like my partner telling me where to serve and I definitely don't want him telling me what spin to put on the ball! That would be a recipe for a bad serving day for me.

themitchmann
12-22-2008, 07:21 AM
I wouldn't say that each player is responsible for an entire half of the court...more like 1/3. The way to play smart doubles is to cover the higher percentage parts of the court (usually in the middle, leaving a little alley open on each side). As the ball travels, each player should adjust to cut off the parts of the court where the opponent is most likely to make the shot. If my partner hits the ball crosscourt and out wide, I would adjust to cover that side of the court, while my partner should move in and cover the more of the middle.

That being said, an important part of the planned poach is serve location. If you constantly serve out wide, the net player is forced to cover closer to the alley and get "pinned." Serve to the body and to the T mean the return down the alley is less likely (or easier for the net player to cut off), so the net player is better about to move to the middle and poach. Plus, a good serve to the T makes the extreme crosscourt shot to the server's side much more difficult, and should mean more returns through the middle of the court for the net player to take.

ten10
12-22-2008, 07:40 AM
If the poacher doesn't keep crossing it's because of a "broken play" if you ask me.
- KK

Love the baseball analogies--LOVE baseball!

Yes, and I'm quick enough to spot and adjust to the broken play.

I think I would be a big advocate of signaling if I played doubles in competition--truth is with Spring league coming up and two singles lines, I'll never be in at doubles.

Still, I'm playing in a tri-level tournament in January--hence my questions. All the feed back has been helpful.

raiden031
12-22-2008, 07:41 AM
As for signals, I find that the Poach/No Poach signal works best for me. I don't like my partner telling me where to serve and I definitely don't want him telling me what spin to put on the ball! That would be a recipe for a bad serving day for me.

Thats how I see it. If I am serving I don't want my partner dictating to me where to place my serves.

Although I don't like planned poaches unless they are the exception rather than the rule. I don't like poaching offensive returns that I have very little chance of actually doing anything with, but instead like to poach when the opportunity arises after reading a weak return. I don't think its hard to determine where your partner's serve is going and how to react to the returner. What I do find hard is poaching a perfectly returned ball because thats what the plan is and your server won't be there to cover the shot that should be theirs.

ten10
12-22-2008, 07:46 AM
[QUOTE=themitchmann;2945840]I wouldn't say that each player is responsible for an entire half of the court...more like 1/3. The way to play smart doubles is to cover the higher percentage parts of the court (usually in the middle, leaving a little alley open on each side). As the ball travels, each player should adjust to cut off the parts of the court where the opponent is most likely to make the shot. If my partner hits the ball crosscourt and out wide, I would adjust to cover that side of the court, while my partner should move in and cover the more of the middle.
QUOTE]

That is how a move on the court and hope and expect my partner to as well. I hate when I have covered the alley because that is where I should be and see the shot go down the middle because they are 15 feet away from me on "their" side of the court!!

jrod
12-22-2008, 07:54 AM
I'm a lefty and first serve is a slice down the t to the deuce court and out wide to the add court (I do mix it up--it is a tough spin for opponents to handle though). My partners are able to take advantage of the weak returns. I just would like them to keep going in case the poach didn't result in a winner or put-away. I'm very quick, so that isn't an issue.

We haven't been using signals. They seem confusing to me. Unless or until you've seen how your opponents handle certain serves--only then can you predict their return.......I dunno

I just didn't want to make a suggestion to my partner without finding out what other people do. But I find, if I can't predict what my partner will do, that I start staying back---singles comfort zone--then work my way in.

The most important thing in doubles is to communicate with your partner. Just work out signals or discuss prior to each point, particularly if your team is serving. Signals typical include serve placement, and poach/stay call. The net person suggests the strategy and if the server doesn't like the call, they say "no" and the net person suggests something else. It's really very simple and your results should improve. You may even start employing signals on return of serve, which some teams at the 4.5 level do.

Julieta
12-22-2008, 07:57 AM
Is it best if when a person poaches for that person to continue in that direction across the court and their partner to cut in behind them to cover the other side?

I am primarily a singles player, but have been playing more doubles. To me, it makes sense to do the above. Still because I primarily play singles in USTA (one doubles match last season) I don't want to be the one directing or choreographying play on the court. I'm a 4.5 but so are my teammates, who are the doubles "experts".

Either way, though, I feel like I should know what they are going to do because I usually serve and volley--but can't really do that if one second they are in the middle and the next.....who knows.

As others have said, once the person poaching goes they should keep going, then you (the person not poaching in this case) switch and cover the other side.

IMO poaching requires that you know your partner pretty well. It helps if you can get a regular partner and that you get along. Both players have to be positive and provide encouragement to one another. You will get passed and the poaches wont always work, but its a great play and its not used enough.

The best thing to do is find someone you can play with on a regular basis and practice together what you're going to do in a match. Using signals is very effective but again, you have to know each other's strengths and weaknesses.

As an example, let's say your partner can serve anywhere, but their favourite serve - the one they will make under pressure - is out wide. The score is 15-40. In that case, you want to go with her wide serve and stay, because you want to increase your chances of winning the point. So you two can talk about this beforehand, and if you know what the other person likes to do, it makes it a lot easier.

Some partners will flip out if you poach. They don't cover and miss the reply, they want to blame you for going, but they know they can't because they know you technically did the right thing, so they get down on themselves. They'd rather just cover their part of the court and deal with the ball hit to them. If your partner has a melt down your chances of winning go down so you may not be able to poach with some partners.

Keep in mind also that there are doubles "experts" who are "experts" because they play doubles a lot and make a lot of shots. Doubles is really about aggression combined with discipline (most important) all in a supportive envionment, so that style can be very effective, even if they aren't crossing or doing other "expert doubles" tactics. Not sure I am making sense but I guess I mean that your top teams could be doing well without doing a lot of this stuff. And they may not be that receptive to change.

This sounds like a generalization but IMO the ladies from Commonwealth countries (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa as examples) use tactics like poaching very well and are fun to watch (and great partners if you can find one!).

On this forum, if you go to posts by 5263 and Bungalo Bill, some good stuff there on doubles.

ten10
12-22-2008, 08:07 AM
As an example, let's say your partner can serve anywhere, but their favourite serve - the one they will make under pressure - is out wide. The score is 15-40. In that case, you want to go with her wide serve and stay, because you want to increase your chances of winning the point. So you two can talk about this beforehand, and if you know what the other person likes to do, it makes it a lot easier.


Smart strategy, thanks.

themitchmann
12-22-2008, 08:29 AM
That is how a move on the court and hope and expect my partner to as well. I hate when I have covered the alley because that is where I should be and see the shot go down the middle because they are 15 feet away from me on "their" side of the court!!

Really, whoever is crosscourt from the shot covers the middle. That's an easy way to remind you partner were he/she needs to cover.

SoCal10s
12-22-2008, 08:32 AM
the way tennis is being played now "poaching" is a lost art form... every body in doubles are staying back and rallying like they're playing singles.. let me give you a bit of advice on POACHING..


+ be very active with your footwork at ready position,try not to turn your head to watch your partner hit his/her shot,just take a glance without turning your head.. always watch what your opponent is doing.
++ watch your opponent's downswing so that you can time the poach.
+++ watch and decide if the ball that you want to poach on is a sure put-away ball,if you cannot control the ball your about to hit,then don't poach
++++ do not poach on balls that are below net level,if you get stuck volleying below net level think about hitting a drop volley
+++++ if you poach and did not put the ball away or did not get to the ball,keep going and cover the other side ( switch with your partner) keeping your head down so that if your partner has to hit a return,he/she has more of an option to go to... if you get stuck in an 'I' formation and your ready position is too high,your partner cannot go down the line ...

I hope this helps...

Julieta
12-22-2008, 08:35 AM
Smart strategy, thanks.

Thanks. If only I could follow it myself...

Julieta
12-22-2008, 08:36 AM
the way tennis is being played now "poaching" is a lost art form... every body in doubles are staying back and rallying like they're playing singles.. let me give you a bit of advice on POACHING..


+ be very active with your footwork at ready position,try not to turn your head to watch your partner hit his/her shot,just take a glance without turning your head.. always watch what your opponent is doing.
++ watch your opponent's downswing so that you can time the poach.
+++ watch and decide if the ball that you want to poach on is a sure put-away ball,if you cannot control the ball your about to hit,then don't poach
++++ do not poach on balls that are below net level,if you get stuck volleying below net level think about hitting a drop volley
+++++ if you poach and did not put the ball away or did not get to the ball,keep going and cover the other side ( switch with your partner) keeping your head down so that if your partner has to hit a return,he/she has more of an option to go to... if you get stuck in an 'I' formation and your ready position is too high,your partner cannot go down the line ...

I hope this helps...

Great post.

rasajadad
12-22-2008, 08:40 AM
Is it best if when a person poaches for that person to continue in that direction across the court and their partner to cut in behind them to cover the other side?

I am primarily a singles player, but have been playing more doubles. To me, it makes sense to do the above. Still because I primarily play singles in USTA (one doubles match last season) I don't want to be the one directing or choreographying play on the court. I'm a 4.5 but so are my teammates, who are the doubles "experts".

Either way, though, I feel like I should know what they are going to do because I usually serve and volley--but can't really do that if one second they are in the middle and the next.....who knows.

If you signal a poach, your responsibility is to continue the cross. If you are just making a move on a ball down the middle, you can go back.

That being said, you should have this discussion with your partner before the match as to how you both want to handle the situation as well as to encourage your partner to call switches if in doubt.

ten10
12-22-2008, 11:28 AM
the way tennis is being played now "poaching" is a lost art form... every body in doubles are staying back and rallying like they're playing singles.. let me give you a bit of advice on POACHING..


+ be very active with your footwork at ready position,try not to turn your head to watch your partner hit his/her shot,just take a glance without turning your head.. always watch what your opponent is doing.
++ watch your opponent's downswing so that you can time the poach.
+++ watch and decide if the ball that you want to poach on is a sure put-away ball,if you cannot control the ball your about to hit,then don't poach
++++ do not poach on balls that are below net level,if you get stuck volleying below net level think about hitting a drop volley
+++++ if you poach and did not put the ball away or did not get to the ball,keep going and cover the other side ( switch with your partner) keeping your head down so that if your partner has to hit a return,he/she has more of an option to go to... if you get stuck in an 'I' formation and your ready position is too high,your partner cannot go down the line ...

I hope this helps...

Boy does it! Wanna be my partner?!?!

Tennisman912
12-22-2008, 02:25 PM
SoCal10s is giving you great advice. His first three steps are going to be done by any good doubles player consistently. I would like to emphasize point 4, not poaching on balls below the level of the net. This is the most important point in the post to me. I would also add to this you need to have your weight moving forward to get more mustard on the shot as well if at all possible. This is why advanced players are always moving in diagonally to cut of the angle, making sure they get some weight moving forward. This falls into the aggressive but consistent approach mentioned in an earlier post. The lower the level of play, the more they try to be aggressive with balls below the level of the net and/or behind them and/or moving sideways (as opposed to having your weight moving at least somewhat forward), often to their peril. This is just not consistent play and will drive those who understand this a bit crazy. You will notice most advanced players will not do this unless it is their only chance to stay in a point. But they will not poach on a ball below the net behind them where they cannot be aggressive. Pay attention to this and you will see it play out this way.

Also if you poach you need to continue on to that side so your partner can cover behind you up the line. Being consistent in your movement and patterns is very important. If you want to try a different pattern, talk about it before you try it. The back player will cover what the poacher doesn’t cover. Nothing is more frustrating to watch than a player who poaches, doesn’t put the ball away and then just stands in the middle of the court and wonders why they lost the point. If you poach, continue on unless you have already worked out what you are going to do.

Good tennis

TM

sphinx780
12-22-2008, 05:55 PM
SoCal10 nailed it. Well said and thanks for the reminders/advice!

waves2ya
12-22-2008, 07:16 PM
SoCal does have great tips there...

Only thing I'd add is watch opp's shoulders; everything happens so fast when poaching that you really have to use your peripheral vision...

Focusing on shoulders lets you see more of court.

Otherwise - be ready (feet/racket). More ready than a lot of folks are at net...

raiden031
12-23-2008, 06:09 AM
I would also add to this you need to have your weight moving forward to get more mustard on the shot as well if at all possible. This is why advanced players are always moving in diagonally to cut of the angle, making sure they get some weight moving forward. This falls into the aggressive but consistent approach mentioned in an earlier post. The lower the level of play, the more they try to be aggressive with balls below the level of the net and/or behind them and/or moving sideways (as opposed to having your weight moving at least somewhat forward), often to their peril.

I think this is the biggest flaw of 3.5 doubles players. I don't know if I've ever met a 3.5 who doesn't hug the net while their partner is serving and always move sideways to intercept the ball. They are incapable of volleying effectively when they aren't at the front of the net so as soon as you put them in a defensive position, they can't do crap.

I play almost exclusively with 3.5 players and I hate signalled poaches because they often can't serve very effectively so I'm constantly trying to poach low balls over the net because the returner is not pressured enough.

SlapShot
12-23-2008, 06:34 AM
I think this is the biggest flaw of 3.5 doubles players. I don't know if I've ever met a 3.5 who doesn't hug the net while their partner is serving and always move sideways to intercept the ball. They are incapable of volleying effectively when they aren't at the front of the net so as soon as you put them in a defensive position, they can't do crap.

I play almost exclusively with 3.5 players and I hate signalled poaches because they often can't serve very effectively so I'm constantly trying to poach low balls over the net because the returner is not pressured enough.

You're painting with an awfully wide brush here. It truly depends on whether the 3.5 player is a singles player shoehorned into a doubles match or if it's a doubles player. I had one 3.5 doubles partner who was a fantastic doubles player - he was only a 3.5 because you never knew which serve would decide to show up on any given day.

My partner and I at 4.0 signal serve direction and poach, and it gives us an advantage while serving. Even at 4.0, signalling seems to be less common than even in HS tennis.

raiden031
12-23-2008, 06:51 AM
You're painting with an awfully wide brush here. It truly depends on whether the 3.5 player is a singles player shoehorned into a doubles match or if it's a doubles player. I had one 3.5 doubles partner who was a fantastic doubles player - he was only a 3.5 because you never knew which serve would decide to show up on any given day.

My partner and I at 4.0 signal serve direction and poach, and it gives us an advantage while serving. Even at 4.0, signalling seems to be less common than even in HS tennis.

I'm talking 3.5 doubles specialists. The ones who play the net well get moved up to 4.0. I think hugging the net works at 3.5 and thats why they can do well there, and I think alot of them don't even know that they should be moving diagonally when poaching.

I think signalling would work if the server is good, but at 3.5 a good server is not all that common.

SlapShot
12-23-2008, 07:19 AM
I'm talking 3.5 doubles specialists. The ones who play the net well get moved up to 4.0. I think hugging the net works at 3.5 and thats why they can do well there, and I think alot of them don't even know that they should be moving diagonally when poaching.

I think signalling would work if the server is good, but at 3.5 a good server is not all that common.

Again, I'll say that it depends on the level of 3.5 player. The best 3.5 players I've seen in local league were very good at poaching, along with playing I formation relatively well (although they seem slightly tenative on calls) and at times know when to play Aussie. Some of these people are now 4.0's, some are not. I won't argue the fact that all of them still playing 3.5 are likely on their way to 4.0 in the near future.

mikeler
12-23-2008, 07:22 AM
Great advice on the diagonal move. Even if you get handcuffed on the poach, your weight moving forward should allow you to at least get the ball back over the net.