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View Full Version : Planned Poach, Who makes the call?


raiden031
01-09-2010, 06:30 AM
In planned doubles poaches, who should make the call?

It seems that typically the net person decides whether they are going to poach or not, but the server really has to then serve based on that decision. For example, if a net person says they are going to poach, and the server decides to go wide, then that could make for a very difficult poach.

I have only a small amount of experience with planned poaches since I never really had a regular doubles partner, but I just get annoyed at the idea that my partner would dictate how I serve the ball because I like to use my own serve strategy.

What are your thoughts, particularly those who have had much more experience with planned poaches?

fruitytennis1
01-09-2010, 06:39 AM
Doubles is a team game. You have to work together

Cindysphinx
01-09-2010, 06:53 AM
If you both agree that you will do signaled or planned poaches, then the poacher makes the decision about whether to go. The server can wave this off at any time.

It is easy when you are doing planned poaches -- talking between points. You just say what you want to do. It is harder for signaled poaches. I just go with whatever my partner signals, for better or worse.

Where I run into conflict is with one partner who thinks (1) we should signal serve location also, and (2) we should not signal between first and second serve.

I think it is needlessly confusing at our level and as novice signalers to complicate matters with serve location, especially if the signal is to stay. If I'm not committed to poaching, I don't much care where the serve lands. And if I'm poaching, I want that serve up the middle anyway. Besides, if you measured our serve placement accuracy at 3.5 level, I highly doubt we could hit our spots consistently anyway, signal or no signal.

Regarding signaling between first and second, my partner thinks it breaks her service rhythm. My opinion is that it is far more effective to allow me to change the signal between serves, as I might not want to poach off of the second serve and signaling each time produces maximum anxiety in our opponents. Regarding her service rhythm . . . maybe it's time to find a new rhythm? :)

ALten1
01-09-2010, 07:20 AM
For me, if I am the better of the two, I will tell my partner before my serves where I plan on putting the serves. I don't tell them they have to poach but I hope they will. I've had partners tell me they don't feel comfortable poaching. Sometimes when I'm at the net I will request the server to place a ball somewhere on a key point (our ad, 40-15) so I can poach. So I guess for me its a team consensus

kelawai
01-09-2010, 12:08 PM
It's not easy, when I signal to poach and my partner serving wide. I think serving 75% in the middle in doubles, chances to hold serve is good. Please correct me if I am wrong.

OrangePower
01-09-2010, 12:10 PM
I guess optimal is for both partners to discuss before each point or serve. You see some pros doing that. I personally find that is slows the game down too much, so instead we use hand signals.

So the net player makes the initial call via signal but the server can say 'no' if he/she doesn't like it, and then the net player tries again. My personal experience is that we end up going with the net player's initial signal maybe 80% of the time.

A few other things to note: We signal before every serve (i.e. new signal after missed 1st serve) - gives more options that way. Also, we do not signal for serve location, but the expectation is that on a planned poach the serve will be either down the middle or hard jam to the body.

ALten1
01-09-2010, 02:10 PM
I guess optimal is for both partners to discuss before each point or serve. You see some pros doing that. I personally find that is slows the game down too much, so instead we use hand signals.

So the net player makes the initial call via signal but the server can say 'no' if he/she doesn't like it, and then the net player tries again. My personal experience is that we end up going with the net player's initial signal maybe 80% of the time.

A few other things to note: We signal before every serve (i.e. new signal after missed 1st serve) - gives more options that way. Also, we do not signal for serve location, but the expectation is that on a planned poach the serve will be either down the middle or hard jam to the body.


I don't like it when the other team feels like they should discuss stratagy before every point. Like you say do hand signals, otherwise it's adding about 15 to 20 minutes to the match

ALten1
01-09-2010, 02:14 PM
I guess optimal is for both partners to discuss before each point or serve. You see some pros doing that. I personally find that is slows the game down too much, so instead we use hand signals.

So the net player makes the initial call via signal but the server can say 'no' if he/she doesn't like it, and then the net player tries again. My personal experience is that we end up going with the net player's initial signal maybe 80% of the time.

A few other things to note: We signal before every serve (i.e. new signal after missed 1st serve) - gives more options that way. Also, we do not signal for serve location, but the expectation is that on a planned poach the serve will be either down the middle or hard jam to the body.


Sorry for the double post, but how does server call off signaled poach made by the net player? I take it you are signaling while looking at each other?

Cindysphinx
01-09-2010, 02:15 PM
^I don't like it either. Here, we play timed matches. Players Who Cheat By Stalling will often take to having conferences every point in the second set when they didn't feel the need in the first set. Which makes them Cheaters.

SlapShot
01-09-2010, 02:15 PM
My usual dubs partner and I have 2 calls every serve - location, and stay/poach. If a wide serve is called, the netman will either stay or fake - very, very rarely do we call poaches on wide serves, and only in certain circumstances.

Since we call location first, it's easy to judge whether to poach or stay.

OrangePower
01-09-2010, 06:48 PM
Sorry for the double post, but how does server call off signaled poach made by the net player? I take it you are signaling while looking at each other?

No, the signal is made by the net player with a hand behind his/her back as he/she is looking forwards in the ready position. The server sees the signal and verbally says something like 'ok'/'yes'/'got it' if in agreement, or 'no'/'change'/'bad' if not in agreement. In which case, the netplayer tries a different signal.

ALten1
01-09-2010, 07:39 PM
Orangepower, do you believe you give up your position when you verbally communicate?

OrangePower
01-09-2010, 08:19 PM
Orangepower, do you believe you give up your position when you verbally communicate?

? Maybe we're misunderstanding each other?

Guy making the signals behind his back is not vocalizing. Serving is giving a verbal yes/no. But since the opponents don't know what signal was given to begin with, that's not really giving the opponents any useful information. All they know out of it is that the server was not happy with the netplayers initial call.

Well, if it happens a lot maybe that tells the opponents that you are your partner are not often on the same page... don't know if that helps them though. And like I said earlier, in reality the server accepts the netplayers initial signal a large majority of the time.

ALten1
01-10-2010, 03:57 AM
Orangepower, maybe you are at a way higher level than me.

I think most players end up recognizing patterns in a serve. Also notice if server sets up one or two feet either way of their usual spot. For me the signals given by the net man I can't read unless it moves the server or makes server look again at my court. When I see a server look over at my court I assume they are processing where they want to hit the ball..The last place they look before looking up to their toss is usually their target.

Samething when I am at the net. If the returner casually glances for half a second past me to the alley whether its before or after they look at the rest of the court, I stay put because I feel the returner is trying to visualize his return to that one area.

A sidenote: After a player briefly looks at the alley they usually look right at me and then down or they will look down immediately. I guess this is when they are processing their return. For me this is reliable about 75-80% of the time.

So if you are giving back verbal feedback to your net man although it's not a lot of info it is something, which is more than I had before you called changed the play at net. The hardest reads are the conference calls back at the baseline after every point. Of course usually the weaker player is doing the listening with their eyes facing me while the better player is doing the talking with their back to me. And usually their eyes are mimicking what the other player is saying.

athiker
01-10-2010, 09:29 AM
I've never had a hand signal called off by the server that I remember. Yes usually on a poach the server tries to serve down the middle, but that is not a requirement. You will see pros poach on a wide serve. Unplanned poaches, yes usually on a T serve, rarely on a wide serve.

If I know my net guy is going to poach I come out of my serve and aggressively go to cover his former side of the court...especially if I'm serving wide. I do think it is wise that the net guy knows you are going to serve wide, b/c he will need to leave earlier to cover a possibly sharper angle return. So yes, some disguise may be lost, but at our level many mistakes are made simply by forcing the returner to change his shot direction...especially if he is reaching for the serve to begin with.

In reality it depends on my partner. Some are comfortable with hand signals, others can't seem to get used to it or just don't want to bother. For the latter most often we go off serve placement or serve return pace in poaching decisions. We will occasionally exchange a few words, but its not always about poaching...but can be. For example, if we spot a weakness in one player or maybe the server is going to test the net guy down the line after the ROS b/c he's been poaching so I may drop back a bit to cover the hole or I plan to hit a 2nd serve as a first serve, so be careful or more patient on a poach attempt.

Personally, I think hand signals are great. It really lets you get in the other teams head by being very aggressive at the net, while still having court coverage by the server. You will still need to chat a occasionally about upping or toning down the aggressiveness depending on results and general strategy.

larry10s
01-10-2010, 10:02 AM
In planned doubles poaches, who should make the call?
I just get annoyed at the idea that my partner would dictate how I serve the ball because I like to use my own serve strategy.

What are your thoughts, particularly those who have had much more experience with planned poaches?

first of all you should be serving up the middle or body serve most of the time in doubles so the net player should not be"dictating your serving strategy", since those serves are very conducive to poaching. if you are going wide to pick on a weaker side for weaker returns then you would still serve thier because the weaker return should be poachable and you will cover the down the line which is coming from the weaker wing so should not be a winner
the only time it would mess you the server up would be if you see the returner cheating to the middle or just feel like its time to surprise your returned with a wide serve. this should be the minority of cases.
the reality of tennis is when hand signals are used the net person calls the shots. when you talk between serves usually its the server who tell the net person what they want to do
so if as the server you want to be in control talk between points. if you can do your part of the equation on command let the net person do the signals.

larry10s
01-10-2010, 10:04 AM
when i played at a lower level and our placement of serves were not so great we would often say if the serve lands up the middle im going.the server would cross seing me go with the heads up of the probability of me going based on where the serve landed.

OrangePower
01-10-2010, 01:18 PM
Orangepower, maybe you are at a way higher level than me.

I think most players end up recognizing patterns in a serve. Also notice if server sets up one or two feet either way of their usual spot. For me the signals given by the net man I can't read unless it moves the server or makes server look again at my court. When I see a server look over at my court I assume they are processing where they want to hit the ball..The last place they look before looking up to their toss is usually their target.

Samething when I am at the net. If the returner casually glances for half a second past me to the alley whether its before or after they look at the rest of the court, I stay put because I feel the returner is trying to visualize his return to that one area.

A sidenote: After a player briefly looks at the alley they usually look right at me and then down or they will look down immediately. I guess this is when they are processing their return. For me this is reliable about 75-80% of the time.

So if you are giving back verbal feedback to your net man although it's not a lot of info it is something, which is more than I had before you called changed the play at net. The hardest reads are the conference calls back at the baseline after every point. Of course usually the weaker player is doing the listening with their eyes facing me while the better player is doing the talking with their back to me. And usually their eyes are mimicking what the other player is saying.

Ok I get what you're saying now. So it's not so much that the communication between server and netplayer is giving something away, it more so that the netplayer and / or server have some "tells" (to borrow a poker term) that an observant opponent can pick up on and use to guess what they have in mind.

Yes I agree, some servers do telegraph their intentions by where they stand as they are getting ready to serve, and by where they look immediately before serving, and some net players do the same by where they glance as they are getting set. If you and/or your partner are guilty of that, then it's something to focus on when you're practicing. Of course the goal is to be completely neutral when you are setting up as either the server or the netman, so that the opponents can't read anything about your intentions.

One fun thing you can try is the double-cross, where you deliberately mislead your opponent by looking at a different spot than where you intend to serve, or looking to the alley as the netman when in fact you intend to poach - hey, if you think your opponents are trying to get an advantage by reading your body language, why not make it work against them? :-)

ALten1
01-10-2010, 03:30 PM
Ok I get what you're saying now. So it's not so much that the communication between server and netplayer is giving something away, it more so that the netplayer and / or server have some "tells" (to borrow a poker term) that an observant opponent can pick up on and use to guess what they have in mind.

Yes I agree, some servers do telegraph their intentions by where they stand as they are getting ready to serve, and by where they look immediately before serving, and some net players do the same by where they glance as they are getting set. If you and/or your partner are guilty of that, then it's something to focus on when you're practicing. Of course the goal is to be completely neutral when you are setting up as either the server or the netman, so that the opponents can't read anything about your intentions.

One fun thing you can try is the double-cross, where you deliberately mislead your opponent by looking at a different spot than where you intend to serve, or looking to the alley as the netman when in fact you intend to poach - hey, if you think your opponents are trying to get an advantage by reading your body language, why not make it work against them? :-)


In the crowds I run around, i'm not known as the "mental giant" but I do enjoy the stratagy that comes along with doubles. That includes the reads of opponents and the occasional double-cross.