Need help avoiding a poach

beernutz

Hall of Fame
Our last place team is playing the first place team in a playoff tonight and while I have been competitive against them in our previous matches I have yet to book a win.

One problem is that they have several pretty big servers (this is 4.0) and quick net players who've been poaching me even when I make a sharp cross-court return. I'm so focused on watching the served ball that I don't see the net player move until after I've hit my shot. I've tried blocking back hard serves as lobs (hopefully) over the net player's head which has been marginally successful. It is not like I get poached on every shot and I seem to get a high percentage of returns back in. I'd just like to cut down on the times I am being poached.

Is there a way to improve on this before 6pm? :) I was thinking that if my partner could just visually signal me, for example by taking a step back, when the net man moves I'd have time to adjust my shot to down-the-line. I've never seen anyone do this but I'm willing to try anything. Any other constructive suggestions are gratefully accepted.
 

blakesq

Hall of Fame
I think you need to be concentrating on returning the serve, and not watching your partner for signals. Anyhow, a good poacher is watching the served ball, once the poacher sees the served ball go down the "T", that is when he starts his poach, which seems to me too late for your partner to signal you about a poach, because you are in the middle of trying to return the serve.


If you suspect the opposing net guy will be poaching you a lot, then, try to keep him honest by hitting a return or two (or more) down the line. Even if he hits a volley winner, he will be thinking that you may go down the line next time he tries to poach. If you can dial in your lobs thats a good tactic too. Good luck!
 

beernutz

Hall of Fame
I think you need to be concentrating on returning the serve, and not watching your partner for signals. Anyhow, a good poacher is watching the served ball, once the poacher sees the served ball go down the "T", that is when he starts his poach, which seems to me too late for your partner to signal you about a poach, because you are in the middle of trying to return the serve.


If you suspect the opposing net guy will be poaching you a lot, then, try to keep him honest by hitting a return or two (or more) down the line. Even if he hits a volley winner, he will be thinking that you may go down the line next time he tries to poach. If you can dial in your lobs thats a good tactic too. Good luck!
Thanks blake. I thought there was a reason I had not seen the signaling tactic used before. It is just that one of the guys I think I'll be playing is so quick that he seems to get to even hard hit low cross court shots.

I think you're right that the best tactic is to just try and keep him honest with a down-the-line shot early plus my lob returns on hard hit serves.
 

SlapShot

Hall of Fame
I think you need to be concentrating on returning the serve, and not watching your partner for signals. Anyhow, a good poacher is watching the served ball, once the poacher sees the served ball go down the "T", that is when he starts his poach, which seems to me too late for your partner to signal you about a poach, because you are in the middle of trying to return the serve.


If you suspect the opposing net guy will be poaching you a lot, then, try to keep him honest by hitting a return or two (or more) down the line. Even if he hits a volley winner, he will be thinking that you may go down the line next time he tries to poach. If you can dial in your lobs thats a good tactic too. Good luck!
Agreed. I usually take a few returns hard up the line right away in a match to let the net player know that I'm not going to just be grooving crosscourt all night.
 

Off The Wall

Semi-Pro
One problem is that they have several pretty big servers (this is 4.0) and quick net players who've been poaching me even when I make a sharp cross-court return. I'm so focused on watching the served ball that I don't see the net player move until after I've hit my shot. I've tried blocking back hard serves as lobs (hopefully) over the net player's head which has been marginally successful. It is not like I get poached on every shot and I seem to get a high percentage of returns back in. I'd just like to cut down on the times I am being poached.

Is there a way to improve on this before 6pm? :) I was thinking that if my partner could just visually signal me, for example by taking a step back, when the net man moves I'd have time to adjust my shot to down-the-line. I've never seen anyone do this but I'm willing to try anything. Any other constructive suggestions are gratefully accepted.
It sounds like that guy is just a very good poacher. Not much you can do about that except what Blake & SS have advised.

Still, if you've returned low and hard and he poaches, he should have to hit a more delicate volley. So, have your partner crowd the T on your returns. That should force the poacher to push the poach toward your partner's alley (a more difficult shot). And, as soon as you know you've hit a low hard one, close forward. Take away his angled volley back to your alley.
 

mikeler

Moderator
Pick a spot to aim for before the serve is hit. If the net guy happens to be there and makes a play, then too good. Just keep him honest by going up the line a few times.
 

thug the bunny

Professional
This is just fundamental dub strategy 101. Messin with the net guy. Obviously you have to mix it up, which always includes a healthy dose of DTLs. On short 2nd serves I also love into the body and CC drops which he has to scoop up from below the tape. Keeping him guessing will mitigate his poaching ways.
 

larry10s

Hall of Fame
tell your partner when you plan to go dtl
so he can be ready for the hot seat
LOB over the net players head
 

danno123

Rookie
I can't focus on both the guy at the net and the ball. Maybe some guys can, but I can't. If they poach my return and hit a winner, then they've won the point. If I try to watch the net player and miss my return, then I gave them the point and they didn't even have to work for it.
When returning, I've picked out my spot before the serve is hit. If I'm getting poached, I try to keep the net guy honest by throwing in a dtl shot about 1 time out of ten and smacking the living crap out of a return about 1 time out of 10. The majority of the time, however, I'm just trying to return the ball cross court.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Most of you already mentioned the DTL occasional shot where you plan this BEFORE the serve is coming to you.
Why none of you recommend the CC and DTL lob is beyond me. It's the easiest to do after ONE miss (usually short), as you need to get the feel of the serve speed and spin.
 

Nellie

Hall of Fame
Against an aggressive poacher, I drill returns right where he/she was originally standing. For some reason, I have better results with this than with hitting down the line.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Body shots give you a bigger target, handcuffing the opposition, and are an INTENDED positive action.
Aiming DTL is often defensive, a HOPED FOR possible winner.
When you're positive, you hit better.
 

beernutz

Hall of Fame
Dang you fall showers--the match was rained out, probably until Wednesday so I have two more days to strategize. Thanks for the suggestions so far, they have really got me thinking out of the box.
 

Maui19

Hall of Fame
I looping topspin shot is extremely useful against poachers, and will often give the server problems as well.
 

In D Zone

Hall of Fame
Both of you should plan to be ready for a poach each time. Have your net partner stand a few feet behind d service line close to the center of the court. It will give your partner room to cover the poach even overhead shots.
Vary your shots and ball placement were you return the serve. Aside from blocking or lob, also use d slice fh or bh to return. And try chipping and charging to throw your opponent off. It's much more effective that d block.
Don't be afraid to go dtl right at d net person and to his weak side [bh]. Ready immediately to go offense, ball will come back straight at you.
 

In D Zone

Hall of Fame
Where to aim your return?
- pre thought where you want to hit your returns is a must.
- always aim for the doubles alley, it offers a wider target and your shot will travel further away from the middle of court to get poached. Yes, even if you are going DTL. I know its a risk but it you hit it right down the alley, you gained an advantage of pulling the poacher to move from center and back. Yielding a error,or getting a weaker volley back since the net person is out of position. Trust me ... this strategic is very effective.

Again, ready yourself to go mano y mano against the net at all cause.

Since you got some time to prep, also practice the returning with a LOB as well - CC and DTL behind the net person. Confidence is the key to a good lob, it may sound cheesy but I've seen guys who are bad are lobbing the ball when it counts. You know what happens if your lob lands short or right at the opponent strike zone!
 
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beernutz

Hall of Fame
Hey thanks for all the advice, it really helped. My partner Ralph and I played the same two guys who had beaten us 6-2, 0-6, 0-6 a few weeks ago during the regular season and we won 6-2, 6-3 tonight. Even better is that this was the first round of our local league's playoffs and the other team was in first place and we were in last. Woohoo for the underdogs!

I tried to play relaxed and just focus on hitting out on my cross court returns and I didn't get poached once. My partner was a great help--he just calmly kept telling me 'green light' which meant just relax and take a good swing. I think it helped that I hit a hard down the line shot in the very first game which luckily clipped a line. It also helped that one of their team's players just didn't serve that well tonight and we got to look at a lot of second serves. Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug. It feels good to be the windshield once in a while.
 

sphinx780

Hall of Fame
Hey thanks for all the advice, it really helped. My partner Ralph and I played the same two guys who had beaten us 6-2, 0-6, 0-6 a few weeks ago during the regular season and we won 6-2, 6-3 tonight. Even better is that this was the first round of our local league's playoffs and the other team was in first place and we were in last. Woohoo for the underdogs!

I tried to play relaxed and just focus on hitting out on my cross court returns and I didn't get poached once. My partner was a great help--he just calmly kept telling me 'green light' which meant just relax and take a good swing. I think it helped that I hit a hard down the line shot in the very first game which luckily clipped a line. It also helped that one of their team's players just didn't serve that well tonight and we got to look at a lot of second serves. Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug. It feels good to be the windshield once in a while.
Great job! It's not always easy to commit to a new strategy.

The only thing I want to add is that even if that DTL had missed but was a solid shot and close, it would have been a GOOD miss. You may lose that one point but you will have sent the message to the net man that you have the potential to burn him if he starts to cheat.
 

SlapShot

Hall of Fame
Great job! It's not always easy to commit to a new strategy.

The only thing I want to add is that even if that DTL had missed but was a solid shot and close, it would have been a GOOD miss. You may lose that one point but you will have sent the message to the net man that you have the potential to burn him if he starts to cheat.
Agreed 100% - even if you miss, the net man has to respect that shot if you show that you're willing to take it.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Against an aggressive poacher, I drill returns right where he/she was originally standing. For some reason, I have better results with this than with hitting down the line.
Yes, hitting AT very strong movers and poachers often works wonders!
 

beernutz

Hall of Fame
Great job! It's not always easy to commit to a new strategy.

The only thing I want to add is that even if that DTL had missed but was a solid shot and close, it would have been a GOOD miss. You may lose that one point but you will have sent the message to the net man that you have the potential to burn him if he starts to cheat.
Thanks. Luckily I had a great partner. I told him what my strategy was going to be and he was very supportive.

I think you are 100% right about the value of sending a message to the net man early. Getting passed down the line messes with your head (I know it does mine anyway) because it is kind of embarrassing even though if you play aggressively it should happen sometimes.
 
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