Pickleball is a fun sport that is becoming more and more popular. In pickleball, players use paddles to hit a ball back and forth over a net. Teams try to score points against each other. To score, you have to make the other team fail to hit the ball back.
One special move in pickleball is called poaching. Poaching can help you score points. But what exactly is poaching in pickleball? Keep reading this article to find out!
What is Poaching in Pickleball?
Poaching is when a player moves across the center line into their partner’s area of the court to hit the ball.
Normally, each player stays on their own side of the court in pickleball. But with poaching, a player temporarily goes into their partner’s space to hit the ball.
Poaching is an aggressive strategy. It can put pressure on the other team. Poaching often leads to a speed up shot or put away shot to score a point.
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Why Use the Poaching Strategy?
There are some good reasons to use poaching in pickleball:
- It can surprise the other team and catch them off guard
- It allows you to hit offensive shots like speed ups and put aways
- It can help you or your partner if they are having trouble returning shots
- Poaching to the middle can cover more of the court
- It puts pressure on the opponents and can force mistakes
So poaching can be a smart and effective strategy when used properly!
When is Poaching a Good Idea in Pickleball?
Poaching can be a good idea in these pickleball situations:
Your Partner is Struggling
- If your partner is having trouble returning shots, you can poach over to help cover their side too. This takes pressure off your partner.
Your Opponents are Poaching
- If the other team starts poaching, you may need to poach as well to counter their strategy. Fight fire with fire!
The Ball is Yours
- If you have a clear path to get to the ball, go ahead and poach to hit the offensive shot.
To Cover the Middle
- Poaching to the middle allows you to cover more court area and defend better. This can prevent opponents from hitting to the middle.
To Speed Up the Ball
- Use poaching to attack faster shots like speed ups down the line. This can pressure the other team.
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When Should You Avoid Poaching in Pickleball?
Poaching is not always the best choice. Here are some times to avoid poaching:
On Dink Shots
- Poaching on dinks (soft shots) may not be needed. Stay on your side unless your partner is struggling.
- Don’t poach without letting your partner know. This can confuse your partner and lead to collisions.
If It Leaves a Hole
- Don’t poach if it leaves a big opening on your partner’s side. This gives your opponents an easy target.
When You’re Not Sure
- If you’re uncertain whether to poach or not, it’s often better to hold your position. Only poach with purpose.
As a Beginner
- Beginners should be cautious about poaching until they understand the game and positioning better.
How to Poach Effectively in Pickleball
If you decide to poach, here are some tips to do it effectively:
- Communicate with your partner by calling “poach!” so they know you’re moving over.
- Watch your opponents and look for chances to poach when they are out of position.
- Move quickly to get to the ball in time for the best shot. Don’t poach slowly and get caught in no man’s land!
- Return quickly to your side of the court after poaching so you don’t leave an opening.
- Only poach for put aways or other high percentage shots. Don’t take unnecessary risks poaching.
- Be ready to cover if your poach attempt results in a weak shot. Hustle back to defend!
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How to Defend Against Poaching
It’s also important to know how to defend when opponents poach against you. Here are some anti-poaching tips:
- Stay centered in your area so you can move either way to defend. Don’t overcommit one way.
- Watch for tells like shifted weight or preparatory steps that signal a poach.
- Call out “poach!” to alert your partner if you see it coming.
- Take away the poach angle by moving laterally into the poaching lane.
- Lob over the poacher’s head to the backcourt. This reverses the pressure.
- Communicate with your partner and switch sides if needed to counter repeated poaching.
Opinions on Poaching in Pickleball
There are different opinions on whether poaching is good or bad for pickleball. Here are some perspectives:
Some players dislike poaching:
- They think it goes against the spirit of keeping to your side of the court.
- It can lead to collisions between partners.
- It may encourage reckless play instead of discipline.
- Overuse of poaching could make the game less fun.
In Favor of Poaching
Other players approve of poaching:
- They see it as an advanced strategy that good teams use.
- It adds excitement and action to increase the pace.
- Poaching has always been part of high-level pickleball.
- Good poaching requires skill and communication.
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So in summary, poaching is when a pickleball player crosses over to their partner’s side of the court to hit a shot. It can be an effective aggressive tactic but should be used selectively. Poaching may not always be appropriate, especially for beginners. Make sure to communicate with your partner if you poach. And be ready to defend against opponents who poach on your team!
What do you think about poaching in pickleball? Is it a good strategy or not? Let us know your thoughts! Learning when and how to poach successfully takes practice and pickleball experience. With the right skills and smarts, poaching can definitely help your team score points. But it should be done with good communication and awareness between partners.