Hone your skills in four easy steps.
There are four critical elements to poaching: your positioning, stance, timing, and direction. Let’s take each of them one step at a time.
Most players stand both too close to the alley and too close to the net to poach successfully. You should stand right in the middle of the service box for the best results (see below left). By positioning yourself in the middle, you’ll be right in front of the returner, who will immediately consider you more of a threat. You also will be able to intercept any return that’s not hit perfectly crosscourt.
Plant yourself in the center of the service box so you can cover the crosscourt return on your poach.
The best time to take off for a poach is either just before the returner strikes the ball or, even better, as he’s hitting it. In other words, make your move when the returner’s attention is on hitting the ball so he won’t notice you.
When you poach, the key is to move diagonally—sideways and forward at once. Players often only move to the side because they’re already too close to the net. By moving forward as well, you can use your momentum to punch the ball, increasing your chances of hitting a winning volley.