Few things feel better on the doubles court than anticipating an opponent’s return, moving across the net, and drilling a volley right between the legs of a helpless partner.

Poaching is the slam dunk strategy of doubles and when you incorporate it into your game, your team immediately becomes stronger in two ways. First, you gain the ability to end points in a quick and intimidating manner. Second, when you’re active at the net, you’ll forever keep your opponents off balance.

Baseline will show you six guidelines to help make you a menace at the net.

Here's No. 1:

Develop Fast Feet

Poaching requires energy and fast feet. When the Bryan brothers begin every point, they look as if they’re about to jump out of their shoes. You should too. Keep your feet active and your hands up. This will send an intimidating energy toward your opponents and get them thinking more about you than the shots they’re about to hit.

To improve footwork, I love ladder drills. If you don’t have a rope ladder, you can draw one on the court with chalk. Start at the bottom of the ladder in a volley-ready position, then move through every rung with small, light and fast steps. Split-step after you finish the ladder and explode forward into a volley (fed by your partner or coach). The ladder will quicken your feet, teach you to take small steps and improve your balance. The more you practice, the faster you’ll get.


Greg is the Director of Tennis at the Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, CT, and author of the Tennis Beyond Big Shots books.