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JavierLW
12-31-2009, 06:08 PM
I was playing doubles yesterday and on my serve on the deuce point, my partner comes back and tells me that he's going to "poach". (so it's a planned poach)

I hit a kick serve nearly right down the T to my opponent's backhand and way before he has to even think about swinging at it, my partner runs clear way across to the other side.

So opponent's return ends up going over the center strap, and I really feel that he saw my partner leave and that's why he went for that shot rather then going down the line.

If I had left when my partner left for the other side of the court, I would of missed that shot completely because both myself and my partner are moving away from where the ball is going.

I actually left much later then my partner though but still managed to move far enough to my left that the ball was behind me so I had to turn around and take a last minute stab at it (I mishit it).

So anyway my question is, if you are the net player and you are planning on poaching is it really reasonable that you will move so quickly that any ball down the CENTER is going to get missed by you?

It seems to me that if that happens it's a good indicator that my partner A) left too early and B) neglected to read the shot and/or C) didnt split step on his way across.

Let me know what you think?

Cindysphinx
12-31-2009, 06:26 PM
I don't know. The center ball is a problem.

Still, I think what your partner did wasn't horrible. I mean, it is a much bigger mistake to leave too late so that you don't reach the crosscourt return. If he misses that, you are in no position to get it and you will lose the point.

If he leaves too soon, however, he risks that the ball may go down the center behind him. Not great. But you will often have time to get that center ball back in play, which you almost did.

No formation is perfect and your partner apparently needs to work on his timing (he should be splitting, not flying blindly across the net), but I've seen worse.

And lucky you -- you have a partner who is at least willing to try to poach! :)

Bungalo Bill
12-31-2009, 06:41 PM
I was playing doubles yesterday and on my serve on the deuce point, my partner comes back and tells me that he's going to "poach". (so it's a planned poach)

I hit a kick serve nearly right down the T to my opponent's backhand and way before he has to even think about swinging at it, my partner runs clear way across to the other side.

So opponent's return ends up going over the center strap, and I really feel that he saw my partner leave and that's why he went for that shot rather then going down the line.

If I had left when my partner left for the other side of the court, I would of missed that shot completely because both myself and my partner are moving away from where the ball is going.

I actually left much later then my partner though but still managed to move far enough to my left that the ball was behind me so I had to turn around and take a last minute stab at it (I mishit it).

So anyway my question is, if you are the net player and you are planning on poaching is it really reasonable that you will move so quickly that any ball down the CENTER is going to get missed by you?

It seems to me that if that happens it's a good indicator that my partner A) left too early and B) neglected to read the shot and/or C) didnt split step on his way across.

Let me know what you think?

If you didn't serve out wide (as you said) then it was the poachers responsibility to cutoff the ball up the middle. He probably left too soon, or just blindly ran to the other side of the court to take the ball there.

One of the aspects of planned poaching is to cut-off the ball on an angle. Also, closing in on the net as well as moving across is their responsibility and they should be on the look out for the ball as they move.

Poaching (even on a planned poach) is all about timing. Some people are real good at timing their poach and are very successful at disrupting and putting extra pressure on the returner.

If a poacher makes their move too soon, the returner will pick it up and hit DTL. A poacher should time their poach when their opponent starts their forward swing. This is normally when they are committed to the shot and are unlikely to be able to change direction. Timing is everything here.

Some people just blindly run across to the other side and sort of make a weak attempt in anticipating the ball crossing the middle of the net. This really isn't a poach but more of a switch that happened with a feeble attempt to take the ball if it comes over the middle.

A poachers responsibility is to CUTOFF the return of the returner. This means they need to time their poach to be able to cutoff the ball as they move to the other side and not just when they are on the other side. Otherwise, why not just line-up in the Aussie?

In this case, I would blame the poacher for missing the opportunity to cutoff the return and put it away.

Lastly, your job on a pre-planned poach is to back up your poacher. This means that you need to move to the side of the court he vacated and protect the middle as well in case the poacher anticipated wrongly. If your poacher misread the shot and thought it was going more to the side of the court he was moving too, you need to anticipate that and move to be able to guard more of the middle.

What helps you do this is knowing where to place your serve. In this case, it should be down the middle.

TIP: So how do you time your poach? Well, I can give you some of the tips I learned from Braden and my coach in college. We practiced this a lot.

You time your move on the downswing of your opponent but you move as they start to bring the racquet forward. So basically, it is at the racquet drop. As soon as it drops, GO! It is very difficult for your opponent to hit to another place at this point in his swing. He is committed and must put his eyes on the ball or risk making an error.

You begin using the information about your opponents tendencies and move to CUTOFF the ball. Not just move. This also may mean you don't just go all out without any thinking. Sometimes, you edge toward the center of the net and then take off. Sometimes you just takeoff. Sometimes you just edge over to the middle and take it there. It really depends on what you understand about your opponent.

Also, anything when it comes to timing (split-step, etc...), simply requires for you to practice it. You will get better and better at it as you do it and try to practice it.

Let me give you an example as to why you need to practice it. Sometimes, when a team gets a young new Quarterback, they game comes at him pretty fast. His timing is off, he reads routes slow, and the game comes at him pretty fast. As this QB practices, gets his timing routes down, and the game slows down a bit, he generally starts to play better.

This is true with reading the racquet drop and moving. The more you work on timing it, the better you will get at reading it. Soon, the racquet slows down and you start to sense when you need to go rather than concentrating on when you need to go. Think downswing, drop, GO! Work on your timing from there.

JavierLW
12-31-2009, 07:50 PM
Thanks BB.

I figured it was an issue of timing.

The funny thing is when it's not a planned poach (or it's a planned "stay"), this guy is really good at identifying the return and putting it away and can cover enough court effectively where often you'll see him as far as halfway into the other service box. (well maybe not because of timing but just because he's really quick on his feet once he's identified where the ball is going)

Ive even see him go as far as the other alley and at least get his racquet on it, but usually that seems to be far enough out of his range that he exhibits bad footwork and hits a bad shot. (typically he has time to swing wildly which sends the ball back to where he just came from)

So anyway, it makes me cringe when he says he's going to "POACH", because it seems to him that means he's going to like you say, quickly switch over to the other side and he expects me to quickly switch over to his side. (which seems to be far more daunting for me as the server since unlike the Aussie position, Im serving from somewhere a lot further from the center).

I thought the same exact thing, if that's the idea we might as well play Aussie then. But he thinks it's being sneaky somehow by doing it this way, and I dont think it is. (because the other team has well enough time to see that he's moving way too early)

And I did have a shot at this ball like I said, but we got into a tiff over it because I figured 9 times out of 10 it would be more ideal if he was able to get that shot (he is at the net already after all), but he couldnt because he was way too far past the center already and he acted like that was my ball for sure.

I really get the timing and practice part of it. I just wish we worked on this sort of thing more in our drills. We used to have great drills where we did doubles situational type stuff all the time, and now it's just line up and hit balls, or just stick 4 people here and there and play out the point.....

If we figure we'll let some matches suffer just to improve that's one thing but some people act like it's the end all and be all for getting thru and winning a match, and I think it's something that we'll probably suck at for awhile because we're not used to it because there is a proper way to go about it. (especially in cases where people dont even possess the knowledge to know HOW to try to go about it)

In this situation we had won the first set, and we were up a break 4-3 in the second set. I rarely ever win with this partner and I was serving (and I was serving great) so I felt pretty confident that we were going to get it to 5-3.

But then my partner (who's itching to do this) comes back and says he's got this great plan that he's going to "GO" on every single point this game. And then he walks back to his area, leaving me to think. "every point??? why??? what??!!"

(after the first point which is the OP post, we kind of had the tiff about who's ball that was and who was supposed to go where and we didnt do it for the rest of the game, and we managed to win it and the set)

Bungalo Bill
12-31-2009, 10:26 PM
Thanks BB.

I figured it was an issue of timing.

The funny thing is when it's not a planned poach (or it's a planned "stay"), this guy is really good at identifying the return and putting it away and can cover enough court effectively where often you'll see him as far as halfway into the other service box. (well maybe not because of timing but just because he's really quick on his feet once he's identified where the ball is going)

Ive even see him go as far as the other alley and at least get his racquet on it, but usually that seems to be far enough out of his range that he exhibits bad footwork and hits a bad shot. (typically he has time to swing wildly which sends the ball back to where he just came from)

So anyway, it makes me cringe when he says he's going to "POACH", because it seems to him that means he's going to like you say, quickly switch over to the other side and he expects me to quickly switch over to his side. (which seems to be far more daunting for me as the server since unlike the Aussie position, Im serving from somewhere a lot further from the center).

Poaching is not really a switch although it can end up as a switch. You execute a poach when you want to cut-off the ball. This implies the person is in transistion to the other half of the court and along the way is ready to put whatever ball away that the opponent gives them. It also could mean you made it over to the other half and fielded the ball there. So there is a range you are moving through that can be the poachers territory.

And it should be like this. When a poacher cuts-off the ball, the exchange (if he doesn't put it away) can be a very quick one (a battle) at the net. Some poachers don't get passed the center of the net and are in a full on battle for the point often ending in an overhead kill to end the point.

If all he is doing is switching to the other side and not really attempting to do anything while he is on the way, that really isn't a poach because he is not attempting to cutoff anything. He is simply switching.

It sounds like he is good at the net but is not using the poaching tactic as "by the book" as it ought to be. If my netman poached and just let the ball go by behind him on the way over the other side, geeez, I would be ****ed! I would almost be playing on my own that point!

I thought the same exact thing, if that's the idea we might as well play Aussie then. But he thinks it's being sneaky somehow by doing it this way, and I dont think it is. (because the other team has well enough time to see that he's moving way too early).

Well, it can be. The important thing is if you are a team and both of you have to be on the same page with this so you can execute it right and not get mad at each other. You obviously know doubles is about teamwork and communication and if you aren't on the same page, well, he needs to consider that as much as you need to consider accepting it and playing with it on occasion. You can use it as an element of surprise. When you do, serve up the middle and make it easy on you. Take the side he vacated and defend it.

And I did have a shot at this ball like I said, but we got into a tiff over it because I figured 9 times out of 10 it would be more ideal if he was able to get that shot (he is at the net already after all), but he couldnt because he was way too far past the center already and he acted like that was my ball for sure.

Well, getting into a tiff is okay so long as it is constructive and you both grow from it. Instead of dampering the situation, try to turn it into your advantage. Sit down with him and go over the play. Go over the serve placement and how you will follow. Let him know that you will be at a momentary disadvantage until you make your way to your proper position. So, if your serve goes down the middle, you will have to guard more court as you come in. You still need to do that by the way regardless if your partner is a bit anxious to get to the other side.

I really get the timing and practice part of it. I just wish we worked on this sort of thing more in our drills. We used to have great drills where we did doubles situational type stuff all the time, and now it's just line up and hit balls, or just stick 4 people here and there and play out the point.....

Are you being coached? Did you change coaches? Maybe approach your coach (if the same person) and talk to them about it.

If we figure we'll let some matches suffer just to improve that's one thing but some people act like it's the end all and be all for getting thru and winning a match, and I think it's something that we'll probably suck at for awhile because we're not used to it because there is a proper way to go about it. (especially in cases where people dont even possess the knowledge to know HOW to try to go about it)

In this situation we had won the first set, and we were up a break 4-3 in the second set. I rarely ever win with this partner and I was serving (and I was serving great) so I felt pretty confident that we were going to get it to 5-3.

But then my partner (who's itching to do this) comes back and says he's got this great plan that he's going to "GO" on every single point this game. And then he walks back to his area, leaving me to think. "every point??? why??? what??!!" (after the first point which is the OP post, we kind of had the tiff about who's ball that was and who was supposed to go where and we didnt do it for the rest of the game, and we managed to win it and the set)

Ahhh, the ol' "I got this great plan." Love those plans. Yeah, that is called playing the psych card to win the game. No real strategy but just "go on every serve. That will mess them up."

Obviously, his definition of "GO" simply meant he was switching to the other side and he had no intention to poach (cutoff) the ball unless it landed on his lap.

At the club levels it is crazy the type of plans we get away with. :)

86golf
01-01-2010, 04:55 AM
Agree with BB. My Pro has always told me that the poacher should be able to touch the net strap with his racquet after the poach move. It is really more of a forward diagonal move than a side-to-side move. Without question, any ball that goes over the netstrap is the poachers ball unless it is a topspin lob.

Cindysphinx
01-01-2010, 08:30 AM
Question: Why should there be an argument/tiff? Javier is serving, so he is in charge for that game, no? If the partner proposes lining up Australian, signaled poaches, I formation or whatever, Javier can say no, right?

I have to say, I don't like it much when my partner won't do what I ask when I am serving. I've seen it all. Partners who won't line up any closer than the service line (including one lady who lined up in no man's land), those who won't line up anywhere other than the tram line, those who won't line up Aussie, those who demand a certain serve style or location, and those who want to poach but who miss every poach.

If I'm your partner, I will do whatever you feel you need. For instance, I was playing a match where our opponents won two consecutive points from the deuce court by lobbing me and making my partner hit a running BH. The next time she served from the deuce court, she asked me to line up off the net (which I was planning to do anyway), which of course put me at risk for getting passed or having to dig out a low return. I can't imagine refusing such a request, even though that is not my preferred method of playing the net.

Bagumbawalla
01-01-2010, 09:23 AM
No time to read all the exchanges, above, so this may have been mentioned. In addition to the obvious timing/anticipation problems-- there could, also, be a problems with your partners basic form.

If he just turns and runs parallel to the net (in his haste to "get to the other side") then, even if the timing is right, he will be set to hit a forehand (if right-handed) but his body position and momentum make a backhand volley almost impossible.

So, if he is going to poach, he should move, basically, sideways with his shoulders pretty much parallel to the net- so he can reach/turn either direction and get at the ball that previously was "behind" him.

This would be something pretty easy to practice/drill.

Ripper014
01-01-2010, 09:25 AM
If you didn't serve out wide (as you said) then it was the poachers responsibility to cutoff the ball up the middle. He probably left too soon, or just blindly ran to the other side of the court to take the ball there.

One of the aspects of planned poaching is to cut-off the ball on an angle. Also, closing in on the net as well as moving across is their responsibility and they should be on the look out for the ball as they move.

Poaching (even on a planned poach) is all about timing. Some people are real good at timing their poach and are very successful at disrupting and putting extra pressure on the returner.

If a poacher makes their move too soon, the returner will pick it up and hit DTL. A poacher should time their poach when their opponent starts their forward swing. This is normally when they are committed to the shot and are unlikely to be able to change direction. Timing is everything here.

Some people just blindly run across to the other side and sort of make a weak attempt in anticipating the ball crossing the middle of the net. This really isn't a poach but more of a switch that happened with a feeble attempt to take the ball if it comes over the middle.

A poachers responsibility is to CUTOFF the return of the returner. This means they need to time their poach to be able to cutoff the ball as they move to the other side and not just when they are on the other side. Otherwise, why not just line-up in the Aussie?

In this case, I would blame the poacher for missing the opportunity to cutoff the return and put it away.

Lastly, your job on a pre-planned poach is to back up your poacher. This means that you need to move to the side of the court he vacated and protect the middle as well in case the poacher anticipated wrongly. If your poacher misread the shot and thought it was going more to the side of the court he was moving too, you need to anticipate that and move to be able to guard more of the middle.

What helps you do this is knowing where to place your serve. In this case, it should be down the middle.

TIP: So how do you time your poach? Well, I can give you some of the tips I learned from Braden and my coach in college. We practiced this a lot.

You time your move on the downswing of your opponent but you move as they start to bring the racquet forward. So basically, it is at the racquet drop. As soon as it drops, GO! It is very difficult for your opponent to hit to another place at this point in his swing. He is committed and must put his eyes on the ball or risk making an error.

You begin using the information about your opponents tendencies and move to CUTOFF the ball. Not just move. This also may mean you don't just go all out without any thinking. Sometimes, you edge toward the center of the net and then take off. Sometimes you just takeoff. Sometimes you just edge over to the middle and take it there. It really depends on what you understand about your opponent.

Also, anything when it comes to timing (split-step, etc...), simply requires for you to practice it. You will get better and better at it as you do it and try to practice it.

Let me give you an example as to why you need to practice it. Sometimes, when a team gets a young new Quarterback, they game comes at him pretty fast. His timing is off, he reads routes slow, and the game comes at him pretty fast. As this QB practices, gets his timing routes down, and the game slows down a bit, he generally starts to play better.

This is true with reading the racquet drop and moving. The more you work on timing it, the better you will get at reading it. Soon, the racquet slows down and you start to sense when you need to go rather than concentrating on when you need to go. Think downswing, drop, GO! Work on your timing from there.



I think this is a huge thing to realize when playing doubles... and I try to do it on all shots... within reason. There are times when balls are hit between the two of you and your partner fails to react to it... etc. I try to cover as many shots as I can regardless of where the returns are as long as they do not take me out of position.

I always tell my partner that whoever is closest to the net has the first shot at the ball... andI will try and react to they do.

Doubles is a very dynamic game... where things can ebb and flow quickly... so it there can be a lot of changes of strategy within a point. Which is why it is so important to always be aware of where you partner is and your opponents are.

JavierLW
01-01-2010, 09:53 AM
Well, it can be. The important thing is if you are a team and both of you have to be on the same page with this so you can execute it right and not get mad at each other. You obviously know doubles is about teamwork and communication and if you aren't on the same page, well, he needs to consider that as much as you need to consider accepting it and playing with it on occasion. You can use it as an element of surprise. When you do, serve up the middle and make it easy on you. Take the side he vacated and defend it.



Well, getting into a tiff is okay so long as it is constructive and you both grow from it. Instead of dampering the situation, try to turn it into your advantage. Sit down with him and go over the play. Go over the serve placement and how you will follow. Let him know that you will be at a momentary disadvantage until you make your way to your proper position. So, if your serve goes down the middle, you will have to guard more court as you come in. You still need to do that by the way regardless if your partner is a bit anxious to get to the other side.


I sent him a link afterwards which I thought explained poaching pretty well:

http://gotechers.com/Doubles_Poaching.htm

What do you think?

This wasnt the first time, Ive been playing with and against this guy for 3 years now. When I do talk about it with him and relay how I think it should be done, he usually argues with me about it.

But I cant blame him for that, he just doesnt know, that's why it's always better I think when we do situational drills where a professional is relaying the information, versus having his know-it-all partner do it.

But as far as playing with him, knowing that it's something that we definately dont agree on it makes me just want to avoid those situations. What's the point of doing it if all that's happening is we are doing it wrong and it's stringing us out??? Especially when it's a critical situation in the match...

Also since we seemed to do okay in the normal situation. (the one where he isnt "planning" on going but just identifys returns that can be put away) This guy isnt your typical statue where some people would feel the need to make them signal or whatever, he's actually very active up there already.

As far as sitting down with him, do you think that is better done outside of the match sometime? It sometimes seems distracting to do it in a actual match when it's with someone who doesnt agree with you, or just doesnt have the knowledge required beforehand.

My feeling is that he's always just itching to do things like this because he feels we HAVE to do it because he saw it on the Tennis Channel or a book or whatever, but he doesnt realize that there is a specific way of HOW to get it done which takes practice or knowledge just like any normal situation.

My preference as well is to have a reason to do things a certain way, not to just do them on a whim or because "it mixes things up" or whatever.

Like if I know my opponents ahead of time and I know they are great returners and they will likely keep my net guy on ice, I may want to signal-poach or play aussie here and there so they dont get to hit the same return over and over again.....

JavierLW
01-01-2010, 10:06 AM
Question: Why should there be an argument/tiff? Javier is serving, so he is in charge for that game, no? If the partner proposes lining up Australian, signaled poaches, I formation or whatever, Javier can say no, right?

I have to say, I don't like it much when my partner won't do what I ask when I am serving. I've seen it all. Partners who won't line up any closer than the service line (including one lady who lined up in no man's land), those who won't line up anywhere other than the tram line, those who won't line up Aussie, those who demand a certain serve style or location, and those who want to poach but who miss every poach.

If I'm your partner, I will do whatever you feel you need. For instance, I was playing a match where our opponents won two consecutive points from the deuce court by lobbing me and making my partner hit a running BH. The next time she served from the deuce court, she asked me to line up off the net (which I was planning to do anyway), which of course put me at risk for getting passed or having to dig out a low return. I can't imagine refusing such a request, even though that is not my preferred method of playing the net.

The reason why he unilaterally tryed to do this is because earlier in the match he came back and wanted to try to signal or play aussie or do whatever, and I right away said "no".

It's not like it's our first day trying any of that, we went an entire usta league season as partners in 2007 where we signaled and I saw about the same thing. (as well as other things involved with HOW to signal that seemed to really break up our rhythm)

Besides leaving too early and moving way too far over, I felt that he signalled that he was going to do it far too many times. (he does it all the time, so Im getting strung out covering most of the court myself almost every single time)

Also he took forever to get the signal out. When I signal I hold it back there right right away so my partner can take their own time, maybe they have to shag down a stray ball, or whatever, but when they're ready for it, I have it there for them.

When he does it, he takes forever to even start giving the signal, and then he even slowly shows it as if it's being extra sneaky if he hides it (even though he's only really hiding it from me). So as the server it disrupts my rhythm because I have to wait for him (and sometimes I have to remind him to signal because he forgets). (and it makes the other teams annoyed because it really slows the game down more then what's normal for us)

So anyway that's why if Im playing with him, I prefer to just veto any and all of that.

I think that some people just do things because they read it in a book or they saw it on "The Tennis Channel" so they assume "WE MUST DO THIS!!!!", but they dont seem to realize that there is a way HOW to do it and that it takes practice just like anything else we're doing in the game.

It seems to me that communication works a lot better when you have a partner who is on the same page as you, and we already have a understanding (either from knowledge, practice, or in agreeing on it outside of the match sometime) of how we are going to go about doing something.

Otherwise it seems at times to be very disruptive in a match because rather then just quickly communicating what we are going to do, we get into these long discussions right in the match about "why we are or arent going to do something", "how we are going to do this", etc....

The tiff itself was basically my fault. When I missed the ball, I clearly saw the returner had all the time in the world to make that shot. It's as if my partner made him hit the ball there by quickly running out of the way.

So I sort of couldnt help it but I sort of groaned. (i was already sort of annoyed though that he was insisting on going EVERY time) Then he yelled at me for "not moving quickly enough to the other side", which was insane because had I moved "quick enough" I would of been too far away from this middle ball.

So then I couldnt think of what to say at the moment (he was still standing up at the net), so I said "Im just going to focus on my serve". And he said "Fine!", and we went back to operating as normal. (with him making a lot of successful "unplanned" poaches from the net and me serving a lot of difficult to return balls)

Not to blame it all on him though, I just think we both have poor on-courtcommunication with each other. (or he's used to me talking a ton outside of the match so he doesnt realize that Im not into having long drawn out conversations during an actual match)

I have another partner that I play more with and it's funny how whenever one of us suggests something the other one says "NO!!!!". But then we just move on from there and play out the point. We dont have to sit there and explain it and try to demonstrate why we dont want to do it, or why we should do it, etc..... (we can do that after the match)

I think it also has to do with this concept of having a leader out there. It works a lot better when one person is in charge, versus two people just throwing out random ideas.

Or at least have a leader for the situation, like you said. Like have the server do it for the serving team, although some schools of thought feel the net player should be the "quarterback", so there is some debate there.

JavierLW
01-01-2010, 10:13 AM
I always tell my partner that whoever is closest to the net has the first shot at the ball... andI will try and react to they do.

Doubles is a very dynamic game... where things can ebb and flow quickly... so it there can be a lot of changes of strategy within a point. Which is why it is so important to always be aware of where you partner is and your opponents are.

I actually play this exact same way, and it works great with most of my partners.

So in the "OP" situation I agree that I am equally responsible for that shot if need be.

It's just disconcerting to me when a situation is playing out that means it's going to leak thru every single time. It's almost like we're in a worse situation at that point then we were before the point even started. (because Im barely going to defend against that shot and my partner is possibly in a poor position and my opponents may go into a more offensive position)

Cindysphinx
01-01-2010, 10:51 AM
So anyway that's why if Im playing with him, I prefer to just veto any and all of that. [snip excellent explanation]


I totally feel your pain. Totally. You have someone who is otherwise a good partner, someone you could probably do well with, except for this one considerable problem.

Maybe rather than convince him of the right way to do it, perhaps you guys could make a deal. *Whoever is serving decides what the strategy will be, and the default is Standard Doubles.* Then you only need to have a discussion when the server wants to try something different or address a problem.

Maybe you could sell it with, "Rocko, I know we have different views on things like poaching and such. It worries me that we have to have long discussions in the middle of matches to decide what we're doing. How about we just decide that the server will decide what our tactics will be? So if you want me lined up Aussie when you're servubg, that's what I'll do."

I sympathize with you about people slowing down the game to do fancy stuff. It shouldn't take much discussion, as you two should have gone over it before and know what you're doing. That is annoying. Also, if opponents stop and have a big discussion, that signals to me that they are Up To Something. If they were hoping to win a point with the element of surprise, they just wasted it.

robby c
01-01-2010, 10:56 AM
Our club pros who both played ATP Tour taught us that when poaching you start at the middle of the service box and move diagonally foward ending up with your bellybutton on the netstrap.
This position allows you to cover all the wide returns. They placed a line of balls on the court from the center T on the returner's side all the way across the net to show the return's ball flight.
Your partner cannot run sideways because the wide angle return will be too far to reach. I think thats why he's leaving so early.
Tell your partner to wait for the serve to go by then move for the netstrap. This should be at the same time that the returner drops his head to follow the ball into the strings. When he does look up your partner will be all over the return, pounding the volley up the middle or at the opposing netman's feet.
Get a couple of your teammates to practice poaching with you in a no-pressure situation. Use one serve down the T to start the point. The returner has to go crosscourt. The netman has to poach. The opposing netman should be on the service line near the T looking to defend.
All 4 of you should practice each position until you're comfortable with it.
We did this 3-4 weeks in a row at our weekly 90 minute men's clinic one winter. It made a big improvement in our Dbls play. It was definitely an eye-opener for all involved.
You might approach your local pro to run poaching drills for your team . In our case we had 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 teams at our clinics on 3 courts at the same time.
With so many guys learning the same idea at the same time it stopped arguments about how to poach.
Hope this helps.
I'm looking foward to Spring Adult League. 7-8 weeks away.
Robby C

Cindysphinx
01-01-2010, 10:59 AM
Regarding the idea of having the net player be the quarterback . . . .

I understand, but I don't think this works as well as having the server call the shots. The server has more on his plate than his partner: gotta decide serve placement and spin, get it in, cover lobs, cover the crosscourt, move in to net. Only the server knows how he is feeling -- does he feel like some particular serve is working better than another, does he feel under pressure on his first shot, etc. For the net player to make demands on the server who is already working so hard seems backward to me.

I mean, I have days where I just cannot hit a good serve up the middle on the ad side. I don't know why. That placement just goes off sometimes. If my partner is insisting that she do a planned poach . . . I'm not going to be able to hold up my end of the bargain. So if my partner insists we do signaled poaches, there's gonna be trouble.

I have lots of partners who are uncomfortable serving in Aussie formation and will refuse to do it even when they are getting killed on the crosscourt return. I will suggest Aussie. But bottom line, they are the server and if they don't want to do it, then they will have to figure something else out. I'm not going to press the issue.

robby c
01-01-2010, 11:03 AM
Oh yeah, The server is covering behind the netman.
The netman has all the middle shots.
Robby C

JavierLW
01-01-2010, 12:10 PM
You might approach your local pro to run poaching drills for your team . In our case we had 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 teams at our clinics on 3 courts at the same time.


We used to have this awesome pro who is a very young guy who went to a college in the ******* just to be a tennis pro.

The drills we took with him were always mostly situational in nature, and we did a ton of doubles which allowed us to work on a lot of things over and over again that we dont always see in the course of match.

But now his boss runs the drills as they moved to another club. His boss believes in mostly just lining people up and playing out the point, which seems to be great for 4.5 players or these high school kids they teach (the high school kids at this club are some of the best in our whole state).

When I complained about that, he obliged by devoting half of our 90 minutes to "instructional" type drills, but usually they are more like the lineup in a big line and take turns hitting a shot type drills. (so they are not really "situational" either)

Like we did poaching once and all they did was feed balls to us and we took turns rushing across to the other side and picking them off. (which seemed to me to be completely foreign compared to what happens in a real match especially off a service return)

A lot of people who do these new drills just like to run around a lot and get tired, and they want to do more singles play then doubles. This partner in particular really says he loves the drills, but I didnt so I stopped doing them last month. (Ive been taking drills for almost 4 years now so this is the first time in awhile I havent had one)

Im not so sure it's just a matter of suggesting to them to do it a certain way, I believe the first guy actually is better at it. (he has more knowledge when it comes to doubles drills and he seems to have a better understanding of what's appropriate if you are actually trying to HELP adults versus just collecting money with as little work as possible) He is also great at conveying information to people without wasting tons of time, so you gain information but you still do a lot of work as well. (with some pros it's either they talk way too much, or they provide very little input because they dont seem to have a sense of where their audience is at...)

That's why I brought it up to him, I think this (signalling/planned poaching) is exactly the sort of thing that they should be working on.

robby c
01-01-2010, 12:22 PM
Why poach in the first place?
To stop a returner thats in a groove on his low crosscourt shot thats forcing the server to hit up on tough low volleys.
At 3.0 and 3.5 most players alternate Serve and Volley with Serve and Forehand groundstroke.
At the upper levels the returning team will take the net away off the return if the server stays back. So you have to poach to keep control of the net.
I would also try Aussie to disrupt the crosscourt return until you learn to execute the poach as a team.
And more body serves to jam the returner.
Robby C

robby c
01-01-2010, 12:29 PM
We used to have this awesome pro who is a very young guy who went to a college in the ******* just to be a tennis pro.

The drills we took with him were always mostly situational in nature, and we did a ton of doubles which allowed us to work on a lot of things over and over again that we dont always see in the course of match.

But now his boss runs the drills as they moved to another club. His boss believes in mostly just lining people up and playing out the point, which seems to be great for 4.5 players or these high school kids they teach (the high school kids at this club are some of the best in our whole state).

When I complained about that, he obliged by devoting half of our 90 minutes to "instructional" type drills, but usually they are more like the lineup in a big line and take turns hitting a shot type drills. (so they are not really "situational" either)

Like we did poaching once and all they did was feed balls to us and we took turns rushing across to the other side and picking them off. (which seemed to me to be completely foreign compared to what happens in a real match especially off a service return)

A lot of people who do these new drills just like to run around a lot and get tired, and they want to do more singles play then doubles. This partner in particular really says he loves the drills, but I didnt so I stopped doing them last month. (Ive been taking drills for almost 4 years now so this is the first time in awhile I havent had one)

Im not so sure it's just a matter of suggesting to them to do it a certain way, I believe the first guy actually is better at it. (he has more knowledge when it comes to doubles drills and he seems to have a better understanding of what's appropriate if you are actually trying to HELP adults versus just collecting money with as little work as possible) He is also great at conveying information to people without wasting tons of time, so you gain information but you still do a lot of work as well. (with some pros it's either they talk way too much, or they provide very little input because they dont seem to have a sense of where their audience is at...)

That's why I brought it up to him, I think this (signalling/planned poaching) is exactly the sort of thing that they should be working on.


I have the same situation with our current pros.
The ones I mentioned moved on to bigger cities and higher paying jobs. We were lucky to have them for two years.
Constant turnover really hurts instruction at small clubs. Usually we get guys just out of college. If they're good they move on.
Our current pros run you around alot. Also the club charges $15 per player. In the 90's it was $7.
Robby C

robby c
01-01-2010, 12:39 PM
We used to have this awesome pro who is a very young guy who went to a college in the ******* just to be a tennis pro.

The drills we took with him were always mostly situational in nature, and we did a ton of doubles which allowed us to work on a lot of things over and over again that we dont always see in the course of match.

But now his boss runs the drills as they moved to another club. His boss believes in mostly just lining people up and playing out the point, which seems to be great for 4.5 players or these high school kids they teach (the high school kids at this club are some of the best in our whole state).

When I complained about that, he obliged by devoting half of our 90 minutes to "instructional" type drills, but usually they are more like the lineup in a big line and take turns hitting a shot type drills. (so they are not really "situational" either)

Like we did poaching once and all they did was feed balls to us and we took turns rushing across to the other side and picking them off. (which seemed to me to be completely foreign compared to what happens in a real match especially off a service return)

A lot of people who do these new drills just like to run around a lot and get tired, and they want to do more singles play then doubles. This partner in particular really says he loves the drills, but I didnt so I stopped doing them last month. (Ive been taking drills for almost 4 years now so this is the first time in awhile I havent had one)

Im not so sure it's just a matter of suggesting to them to do it a certain way, I believe the first guy actually is better at it. (he has more knowledge when it comes to doubles drills and he seems to have a better understanding of what's appropriate if you are actually trying to HELP adults versus just collecting money with as little work as possible) He is also great at conveying information to people without wasting tons of time, so you gain information but you still do a lot of work as well. (with some pros it's either they talk way too much, or they provide very little input because they dont seem to have a sense of where their audience is at...)

That's why I brought it up to him, I think this (signalling/planned poaching) is exactly the sort of thing that they should be working on.


I have the same situation with our current pros.
The ones I mentioned moved on to bigger cities and higher paying jobs. We were lucky to have them for two years.
Constant turnover really hurts instruction at small clubs. Usually we get guys just out of college. If they're good they move on.
Our current pros run you around alot. Also the club charges $15 per player. In the 90's it was $7.
Robby C

robby c
01-01-2010, 12:42 PM
Sorry about double post. Watching Bobby Bowden accept his last bowl trophy.
Robby C

JavierLW
01-01-2010, 05:33 PM
Why poach in the first place?
To stop a returner thats in a groove on his low crosscourt shot thats forcing the server to hit up on tough low volleys.
At 3.0 and 3.5 most players alternate Serve and Volley with Serve and Forehand groundstroke.
At the upper levels the returning team will take the net away off the return if the server stays back. So you have to poach to keep control of the net.
I would also try Aussie to disrupt the crosscourt return until you learn to execute the poach as a team.
And more body serves to jam the returner.
Robby C

Well there is two methods of poaching, unplanned and planned.

When you identify a ball that you can pick off and you go and intercept it, you are still poaching technically. And according to what Im hearing that doesnt have to mean you're clear onto the other side, I bet most of the time you're not going to be much further then the center strap.

I think it's very valuable to be able to do this often because it makes that your partner is threatening a larger area and it means that if I want to serve and volley it's easier because I have a lot less court to cover. (then if Im successful there we have two people at the net which is a huge advantage)

Even if I stay back it's nice because it means the returner is practically forced to return the ball directly back to me. He can hit the ball as hard as he wants or with as much spin as he wants to try to make it difficult, but except for moving me forward, he cant move me at all side to side any longer.

Anyway that's my idea for why poaching (at least unplanned poaching) is good at any level(, besides the part where it breaks up anyone's rhythm or spooks them or whatever..... But like I said this guy was being very effective at doing this unplanned anyway if you just count the number of balls that he picked off just because he caught up to them or saw the shot or whatever....

There are other people who stand up there like a statue and it creates a huge issue. It's hard to serve and volley because there is just way too much court to cover. (and a lot of us are not experts at serving and volleying at 3.0 or 3.5)

And if you stay back, you'll get caught in an endless crosscourt rally with someone because both guys who are back are free to fire away with whatever they have and you'll see them push each other further and further back. (or my opponent's net guy will get involved so now it's like Im playing 1 against 2 players because my partner isnt doing much)

Bungalo Bill
01-01-2010, 06:19 PM
I sent him a link afterwards which I thought explained poaching pretty well:

http://gotechers.com/Doubles_Poaching.htm

What do you think?

This wasnt the first time, Ive been playing with and against this guy for 3 years now. When I do talk about it with him and relay how I think it should be done, he usually argues with me about it.

But I cant blame him for that, he just doesnt know, that's why it's always better I think when we do situational drills where a professional is relaying the information, versus having his know-it-all partner do it.

Hahaha, sounds like he is a bit intimidating with his personality and people just dont want to deal with his stubborness. I played with a person like that and he always blamed his partner for things that were clearly his ball.

Yeah, some people are like that. They will only listen if you have played against Sampras (and won) and have coached 3,000 professional players to the #1 spot in the world.

But as far as playing with him, knowing that it's something that we definately dont agree on it makes me just want to avoid those situations. What's the point of doing it if all that's happening is we are doing it wrong and it's stringing us out??? Especially when it's a critical situation in the match...

Yeah, I would say screw that. That guy I mentioned, him and I went at it several times. I could care less who is thinking what. We nearly went to blows several times. Many others simply tolerated his garbage, I didn't and he knew I didn't.

This guy we played with, would serve wide and expect his partner to cover court (like the middle of the net) on balls that were clearly his responsibility. Just a joke.

I don't know your situation but you either put up with it or don't tolerate it. It is up to you.

Also since we seemed to do okay in the normal situation. (the one where he isnt "planning" on going but just identifys returns that can be put away) This guy isnt your typical statue where some people would feel the need to make them signal or whatever, he's actually very active up there already.

Sounds like he plays net decently and maybe you just need to go with it. Let him call the plays and play your best to compliment the play. Now that you know what he intends to do when he says he is "going", compliment it instead of fighting it.

As far as sitting down with him, do you think that is better done outside of the match sometime? It sometimes seems distracting to do it in a actual match when it's with someone who doesnt agree with you, or just doesnt have the knowledge required beforehand.

My feeling is that he's always just itching to do things like this because he feels we HAVE to do it because he saw it on the Tennis Channel or a book or whatever, but he doesnt realize that there is a specific way of HOW to get it done which takes practice or knowledge just like any normal situation.

LOL, yeah, you got your hands full there. Why don't you try letting him call the plays. Let him have his "command center" and support his calls the best you can. He obviously is calling them to help your team win and he thinks he can overpower your opponent with his aggressive net play.

Try going the opposite, compliment rather than fight it and see how it goes. You may be surprised what you might learn from it.

Bungalo Bill
01-01-2010, 06:22 PM
Question: Why should there be an argument/tiff? Javier is serving, so he is in charge for that game, no? If the partner proposes lining up Australian, signaled poaches, I formation or whatever, Javier can say no, right?

Yes, Cindy from the book that is true. However, in reality, sometimes certain personailities will not let someone else "rule" them.

Bungalo Bill
01-01-2010, 06:31 PM
I sent him a link afterwards which I thought explained poaching pretty well:

http://gotechers.com/Doubles_Poaching.htm

What do you think?

Good link! I like it. Pretty much says everything we are trying to say here. I like the diagrams because it is clear that the poachers job is to INTERCEPT or CUTOFF the ball. Usually the ball will cross the center area of the net. Poachers ball!!! It is the very reason you poach.

mikro112
01-01-2010, 06:49 PM
http://gotechers.com/Doubles_Poaching.htm

Great link. It helped me to visualize the I-Formation better! Thanks for posting it.

JavierLW
01-01-2010, 08:00 PM
Sounds like he plays net decently and maybe you just need to go with it. Let him call the plays and play your best to compliment the play. Now that you know what he intends to do when he says he is "going", compliment it instead of fighting it.



LOL, yeah, you got your hands full there. Why don't you try letting him call the plays. Let him have his "command center" and support his calls the best you can. He obviously is calling them to help your team win and he thinks he can overpower your opponent with his aggressive net play.


In some situations just to appease him Ive told him. "Okay you can go on the 3rd point" or something to that effect.

My problem with just letting him make the call, is that he will call that he is going to "go" far too often. (more then half of the time, in this case he wanted to do it every time for an entire game which was an important "hidden ad game".....)

Perhaps if I was as fast is this guy I could deal with it better, but since he's leaving so early almost every single time it invites the other team to whack the ball down the line as quickly as possible and those are hard shots for me to get too. (especially if Im being forced to do that on more then half of the points)

We've done it plenty of times and we dont win very often. He may still think that he's doing it to win, but we've had plenty of experience that it's not going to get the job done.

And in both of these particular situations it seemed like the worst time to do it because we were playing a pretty decent team and were way ahead in the momentum.

Usually when it's my turn to serve again, I ignore the other 3 situations and I go back to what's happening in every game that I serve. So to me Im thinking about how we've won the last 2 games that I served and we pretty much own that situation. I was hitting some pretty decent serves and we were winning almost every point by the 2nd or 3rd shot. (which to me seems like magic versus just getting service winners which doesnt last very long)

So when he suggests that we're going to do something odd out of the blue at 6-4, 4-3 (up a break) I really wasnt happy about letting him get away with it because we've been in plenty of situations like that before when I did and it changed the whole momentum of the game.

(Ive been in at least 3 or 4 different matches with him where the returners automatically sent everything down the line, and Ive even been his opponent where myself and my partner did the same thing, even by sending it down the middle because the server and this guy were both running early away from the middle as quick as they could)

ALten1
01-02-2010, 10:53 AM
If you didn't serve out wide (as you said) then it was the poachers responsibility to cutoff the ball up the middle. He probably left too soon, or just blindly ran to the other side of the court to take the ball there.

One of the aspects of planned poaching is to cut-off the ball on an angle. Also, closing in on the net as well as moving across is their responsibility and they should be on the look out for the ball as they move.

Poaching (even on a planned poach) is all about timing. Some people are real good at timing their poach and are very successful at disrupting and putting extra pressure on the returner.

If a poacher makes their move too soon, the returner will pick it up and hit DTL. A poacher should time their poach when their opponent starts their forward swing. This is normally when they are committed to the shot and are unlikely to be able to change direction. Timing is everything here.

Some people just blindly run across to the other side and sort of make a weak attempt in anticipating the ball crossing the middle of the net. This really isn't a poach but more of a switch that happened with a feeble attempt to take the ball if it comes over the middle.

A poachers responsibility is to CUTOFF the return of the returner. This means they need to time their poach to be able to cutoff the ball as they move to the other side and not just when they are on the other side. Otherwise, why not just line-up in the Aussie?

In this case, I would blame the poacher for missing the opportunity to cutoff the return and put it away.

Lastly, your job on a pre-planned poach is to back up your poacher. This means that you need to move to the side of the court he vacated and protect the middle as well in case the poacher anticipated wrongly. If your poacher misread the shot and thought it was going more to the side of the court he was moving too, you need to anticipate that and move to be able to guard more of the middle.

What helps you do this is knowing where to place your serve. In this case, it should be down the middle.

TIP: So how do you time your poach? Well, I can give you some of the tips I learned from Braden and my coach in college. We practiced this a lot.

You time your move on the downswing of your opponent but you move as they start to bring the racquet forward. So basically, it is at the racquet drop. As soon as it drops, GO! It is very difficult for your opponent to hit to another place at this point in his swing. He is committed and must put his eyes on the ball or risk making an error.

You begin using the information about your opponents tendencies and move to CUTOFF the ball. Not just move. This also may mean you don't just go all out without any thinking. Sometimes, you edge toward the center of the net and then take off. Sometimes you just takeoff. Sometimes you just edge over to the middle and take it there. It really depends on what you understand about your opponent.

Also, anything when it comes to timing (split-step, etc...), simply requires for you to practice it. You will get better and better at it as you do it and try to practice it.

Let me give you an example as to why you need to practice it. Sometimes, when a team gets a young new Quarterback, they game comes at him pretty fast. His timing is off, he reads routes slow, and the game comes at him pretty fast. As this QB practices, gets his timing routes down, and the game slows down a bit, he generally starts to play better.

This is true with reading the racquet drop and moving. The more you work on timing it, the better you will get at reading it. Soon, the racquet slows down and you start to sense when you need to go rather than concentrating on when you need to go. Think downswing, drop, GO! Work on your timing from there.

Great advice! I used what you said (bold letters) in above paragraph and owned the net today in a doubles match. Learn something everyday if you open your eyes/ears and shut your mouth. Sounds like you have more knowledge of the game in your pinky finger than I do in my whole body.

Cindysphinx
01-02-2010, 11:49 AM
I hope Javier won't mind if I sneak this question in, as it does relate to the subject of bad poaching . . .

I was doing signaled poaches in a practice match. In the ad court, I signaled stay.

I decided to fake in the manner suggested in a recent Tennis Channel Academy broadcast about the Bryan Brothers. The advice was to "sell" the fake. The player stuck his racket out as though about to poach, but stayed home. He didn't really fake much with the body, it was mostly racket and arms.

So I do this fake with my racket. Returner bites and goes DTL. But I missed the easy FH volley. I think I missed because I wasn't quite ready because I hadn't finished my fake yet.

Here's the question: What is your cue to fake? Should I do my little move when the serve bounces, or is that too late?

I do like this idea of faking with the racket. Sometimes I would try to fake with a little lunge, and I frequently wasn't ready for the next ball. So that lunging thing must be too much of a fake, right?

Bungalo Bill
01-02-2010, 12:42 PM
I hope Javier won't mind if I sneak this question in, as it does relate to the subject of bad poaching . . .

I was doing signaled poaches in a practice match. In the ad court, I signaled stay.

I decided to fake in the manner suggested in a recent Tennis Channel Academy broadcast about the Bryan Brothers. The advice was to "sell" the fake. The player stuck his racket out as though about to poach, but stayed home. He didn't really fake much with the body, it was mostly racket and arms.

So I do this fake with my racket. Returner bites and goes DTL. But I missed the easy FH volley. I think I missed because I wasn't quite ready because I hadn't finished my fake yet.

Here's the question: What is your cue to fake? Should I do my little move when the serve bounces, or is that too late?

I do like this idea of faking with the racket. Sometimes I would try to fake with a little lunge, and I frequently wasn't ready for the next ball. So that lunging thing must be too much of a fake, right?

If you want to sell it, then make sure the returner sees your fake. If you time it like you would a real poach (racquet reaching the drop and now coming forward) they probably won't see it. So you need to sell the fake sooner than you would for a real poach. It needs to look like you are going too soon and made a mistake. So maybe time it when he takes the racquet back and up and is ready to bring the racquet down. You will have to be the judge of that. :)

Note: You can really work a fake poach in your favor when you have a a good real poach. What ends up happening is the returner starts trying to anticipate you poaching because they are tired of getting burned. That is when you really got them and are inside their heads. You can fake, go for real, stay, and confuse the heck out of them.

Bungalo Bill
01-02-2010, 12:52 PM
Great advice! I used what you said (bold letters) in above paragraph and owned the net today in a doubles match. Learn something everyday if you open your eyes/ears and shut your mouth. Sounds like you have more knowledge of the game in your pinky finger than I do in my whole body.

I learned from some excellent underground coaches, one in the limelight that was often misunderstood, and a lot of studying.

I also played a lot of doubles in my tennis life. A lot of doubles. It was my main forte much more than singles.

Poaching becomes very fun when you know how to poach and when to poach. From there, now your game plan opens up to fake, call plays, anticipate, etc...and you bcome a force to reckon with as you found out today.

I used to have singles players come in and complain how boring doubles was until I taught them how to position themselves and play. They usually ended up loving it and playing more doubles to improve their singles game.

I loved using a singles players lateral ability at the net (provided they could volley decently).

Glad it helped. I know it worked for me when I was coached in doubles.

ALten1
01-02-2010, 01:10 PM
I used the fake and poached a lot. The stronger player was in the ad court and he had more pace. I only poached him during key times in the point, usually to win the point. Like I said, good advice on waiting for the commitment on the swing. Never had one ball hit behind me.

ALten1
01-02-2010, 01:20 PM
I hope Javier won't mind if I sneak this question in, as it does relate to the subject of bad poaching . . .

I was doing signaled poaches in a practice match. In the ad court, I signaled stay.

I decided to fake in the manner suggested in a recent Tennis Channel Academy broadcast about the Bryan Brothers. The advice was to "sell" the fake. The player stuck his racket out as though about to poach, but stayed home. He didn't really fake much with the body, it was mostly racket and arms.

So I do this fake with my racket. Returner bites and goes DTL. But I missed the easy FH volley. I think I missed because I wasn't quite ready because I hadn't finished my fake yet.


I do like this idea of faking with the racket. Sometimes I would try to fake with a little lunge, and I frequently wasn't ready for the next ball. So that lunging thing must be too much of a fake, right?

For me the key to a fake is to be on your toes. It's like two moves at the same time- A move to fake and then a quick move back because you know you're not poaching, your staying.....probably doesn't make any sense the way I explained it but I tried.
Here's the question: What is your cue to fake? Should I do my little move when the serve bounces, or is that too late?