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. 6:

When disaster strikes

You’ve read the situation, timed your poach perfectly, and your opponent promptly drives the ball behind you for a winner. You’re embarrassed, apologize to your partner, and vow to never poach again, right? Wrong!

To be a force at the net, you must have thick skin. Many players gauge their poaching success by the number of times they actually end the point. This is only a small part of the benefit of poaching. Your overall goal is to create an atmosphere of uncertainty among your opponents.

Next time you take the court, commit to being active. Every time the ball crosses the net be up on your toes, moving, faking and poaching. By planting the seed that you might poach, you’ll disrupt the other team’s focus and force weak shots and errors.


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