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Learn the fundamentals of the pickleball poach

The Art of Pickleball Coach Jerry Jaffe

Jerry Jaffe

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Once you master the volley, you can use it to play a poach by crossing over to your partner’s side of the court to make the play. This strategic shot often catches your opponent off guard and can help you win the rally. There are several scenarios where a poach is a smart option. Check a few of them out below, then watch the video to learn more!

Scenario 1

Your opponent is picking on your partner by sending shot after shot to her side of the court. Playing a poach can disrupt this attacking strategy so you can regain control of the rally or, better yet, end it outright.

Scenario 2

Your partner hits a good return to the middle of your opponent’s back court. Since the opposing players are pushed back against their baseline, it will be difficult for them to hit a drop shot into your kitchen. At this point, stepping toward the centerline puts you in a good position to play a poach on any floating return shot. If your opponent sends over a good shot to your right that you can’t get to, your partner is next to you and ready to support. Since you’re at the centerline in this case, be aware that you’ll be leaving your sideline open. This is okay because it’s unlikely your opponent will be able to successfully hit such a sharp angle. Even if they do, you can recover by taking one step toward the sideline and playing a return with your backhand. 

Scenario 3

The opponent directly across from you seems to only want to hit drop shots to your partner. Knowing this, you can assume the next time you see her paddle drop that she’s going to repeat this strategy. You can surprise her by stepping in to make an aggressive shot. Just be sure to play the ball to her partner. This gives your partner a chance to swing around you to cover your side of the court. If you hit to the person directly across from you, your partner likely won’t make it in time to defend the shot. 

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