Sneaky Poach

Hey guys, Scott from PlayYourCourt.com, and today, i’m going to talk to you about what I’ve affectionately come to call the sneaky poach.  Speaking of affection, don’t forget Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so if you’re looking for a gift for your favorite doubles partner, click here to pick up a gift card so that you can jump out on the court and have some fun together.

So moving on, lets talk about the sneaky poach.  Almost all the rec players I’ve coached at one point or another have struggled with poaching.  They see balls that they know they should poach, but they’re too nervous or tentative to commit and make that move to cross.  A lot of players are scared that in order to be successful they need to leave their spot at net way too early since their opponents will see them and just pass them down the line.

The sneaky poach solves all these poaching problems, and allows you to poach with confidence in a way your opponents will never see coming. Step one to the sneaky poach is really sell the idea to your opponent that you’re not going to poach, thus the “sneakiness” aspect.  We’re gonna do this by taking a step or two towards the alley as our partner serves the ball, so that as our opponent prepares to return serve the last thing they see before their eyes drop to the ball is us moving over to cover our alley.

This first step does a few things.  First, it tells our opponents “hey, I’m not poaching, and not only am I not poaching; I’m a little nervous you’re going to pass me down the line, so I’m gonna really over-cover it.”  This creates a sense of comfort with your opponent; now they might feel like they’ve got a lot off space to work with and hitting the ball cross court is going to be no problem.

Step two is to wait til your opponents eyes drop to the ball.  You’re going to keep pretending you’re covering your alley and not poaching until that moment their eyes drop.  As soon as you see their head drop, its time to get sneaky.

Step three is to poach like your feet are on fire, and I’m serious here, you’ve really gotta commit to this move.  No hesitance, no wavering, just go.  Move forward and at an angle as fast as you humanly can and poach that return.

To recap:

You sold the fact that you’re not poaching by taking a step or two towards the alley as the serve moves towards your opponent; the last thing they saw before their eyes dropped to the ball was you aggressively covering your alley, and now as they drop their eyes towards the ball,  when they make contact then look up: surprise! There you are with the winning poach.

That, my friends, is the sneaky poach.  It works on return of serve, and the same concept works just as well in the middle of the point when you’re at the net.  So, give it a shot  and I think you’re finally going to have some success with poaching.

Most players just don’t realize how easy it really is to make improvements like this in their game; this tip I just gave you is a perfect example.  It’s nothing earth shattering, but if you’re working with a seasoned coach, they’re gonna have tons of quick tips and simple fixes just like this one that can improve problem areas in your game. Whether you’re looking for strategy, whether you’re looking for power on your serve, maybe you need some more consistency on your backhand; whatever your goal is, it’s a lot easier to improve than you might think, and you can make some serious progress in just one hour.

If you really want to improve your tennis game, click here to check out some of the awesome instructors in your area.  Also, don’t forget!  Valentine’s day is right around the corner, and a tennis lesson is something fun and unique you can do with your valentine this year.  Click here to pick up a gift card for your valentine.  We’ll see you out on the courts!

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