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When should I poach?


Question: When should I poach?
Answer: Most players poach less than they should. It usually takes an experienced team to execute signaled poaches well, but players at any level should try to poach when invited by an easy ball. Letting slow, shoulder-high balls pass by a few feet away is doing a huge favor to your opponents. Picking just a few of these off will not only win those points directly, but likely many more indirectly as the receiver starts to worry about what you'll do.

What constitutes an easy ball varies with each player. For almost anyone, a slow ball 2-4 feet above the net and less than 8 feet away should be worth attacking. The more you poach, the better you'll get at it, and you'll be able to go after lower, faster, and more distant balls.

For opportunistic poaches, start moving as soon as you see where the ball is going, which should be shortly after it leaves your opponent's racquet. For planned poaches, start moving as soon as the opponent starts her swing. Unless your partner will be crossing over to your side because she knows that you plan to poach, you can start to poach, then change your mind if the return is better than you expected.

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