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Video:How to Poach in Doubles Tennis

with Jeff Cooper

Poaching is one of the most effective tactics in tennis, and it makes doubles a lot more fun. Watch this About.com video to learn how to poach successfully during a doubles match.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Poach in Doubles Tennis

Hi, I'm Jeff Cooper for About.com, here to help you learn how to poach in doubles.

What Is Poaching in Doubles Tennis?

"Poaching" in doubles means cutting across the court to intercept a ball headed toward your partner. Poaching is most often by the server's partner to pick off a return of serve.

Why Poach in Doubles Tennis?

Returning serve becomes much more difficult in doubles if the receiver has to think about whether the server's partner is poaching, faking a poach, or neither.

If you, as the server's partner, see an easily attackable return heading crosscourt, you can execute an opportunistic poach without warning your partner. In a planned poach, you will let your partner know that you're poaching so that he or she can cover the side you're vacating in case that's where the ball goes.

Using Hand Signals in Doubles Tennis

You and your partner can talk before each point or you can send a simple hand signal behind your back before each serve, such as an open hand for poaching and a closed one for staying put. On some teams, the server's partner also signals where the serve should go, such as one finger for out wide, two for into the body, and three for up the middle.

Notes About Poaching in Doubles Tennis

When you poach, cut forward as you cut across. Timing is crucial. On every serve, you should split-step just as the receiver starts to swing. If you're poaching, take off from the split-step. This won't give the receiver time to change the direction of the return. If you get a ball you can hit aggressively, aim it past the opponent nearer to you, who has less time to react. If you get a more difficult ball, hit it toward the farther opponent, because you'll have more time to react to an aggressive reply.

For more on doubles and everything else in tennis, visit About.com.

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