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The Poach

In pickleball, the term "poach" is commonly used to describe a specific strategy in doubles play. Poaching involves a player crossing over from their side of the court to intercept a ball that is intended for their partner. This strategic movement is often employed to put pressure on the opponents, disrupt their rhythm, and capitalize on opportunities for aggressive play. Here's how poaching typically works in pickleball doubles:

the poach

Communication: 

  • Effective communication between partners is crucial in pickleball. The player intending to poach signals their intention to their partner to avoid confusion.

Timing: 

  • The poaching player times their movement to intercept the ball at the net. This can be done when they anticipate that the opponent is going to hit the ball in a certain direction.

Interception: 

  • The poaching player moves quickly to intercept the ball, ideally at the NVZ/Kitchen line, putting themselves in a position to play an offensive shot.

Aggressive Play: 

  • After poaching successfully, the player looks for an opportunity to play an aggressive shot, putting pressure on the opponents or creating an opening for their team.


In summary, poaching requires good communication, anticipation, and quick reflexes. When executed well, it can be an effective strategy to gain control of the point and keep the opponents on their toes. However, mistimed or poorly communicated poaching attempts can leave the court vulnerable and result in points for the opponents.


The most important things to do while you are poaching:

  • Do not step into the NVZ/Kitchen while poaching

  • Use proper footwork to maximize poaching power

  • Poach directly at the opponent directly across rather than the opponent cross-court

  • Communicate with partner

  • Use proper court-switching techniques if opponents return the poach


Are you interested in learning more about this pickleball shot? Or taking lessons to help you improve + master it? Click the link below to schedule time for your personalized lesson with our certified pickleball instructors!


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