When I was the coach at the University of California at Berkeley, I had a lot of players that loved to poach. Because of that, I had to create some tennis doubles rules for poaching. Poaching is a great doubles tennis strategy, but it requires both partners to know their positioning on the court to be successful.
The first thing to know about poaching as a doubles tennis strategy is that the first ball you poach probably isn’t going to be the winner. You will likely have to poach a second ball! Hence my rules for doubles tennis:
- If you poach and DON’T cross the center line, then your partner at the baseline stays on their side.
- If you poach and DO cross the center line, your partner switches to the other side.
- The poacher, if she DOES cross the center line, comes back to the middle for the second poach.
The third rule is the most important – if the poacher doesn’t come back to the middle, they will leave the center of the court vulnerable. But if they own the middle, they will almost always get the double poach for the point or force a bad shot to the outside. The last thing you want is for you and your doubles partner to be divorced! (See our post from May 30: Avoid the Divorce!). So be aggressive and poach at the net, just be sure to cover the middle after you poach.