Ask A Coach: Should I Poach?
i Coach. What's the etiquette when it comes to poaching? I find that some people get really mad when it happens but others see it as a good strategy. Am I missing something? Fred
Hi Fred. Like many things in life, poaching is all about context. If you're playing pickleball with someone who doesn't care about winning but has a great time hitting the ball, your poaching prowess will be seen as you being a ball hog. When you cross over the centre of the court to intercept a ball that would otherwise be hit by your partner (that's the definition of poaching), you'll be regarded as a someone who is selfishly stealing someone else's enjoyment. You'll be persona non grata quite soon.
If, however, you're playing pickleball with people who like good, competitive matches where both teams are doing their best to win, then you will be applauded for your trickery at the net -- so long as you successfully put those poached balls away! Poaching can be a highly effective way of going on offence and frustrating your opponents who might be trying to avoid you.
So my advice to you is to become really good at reading your audience. If you think that poaching will be frowned upon because your partners are "just there to have fun" (which is usually code for wanting to hit as many balls as they can), perhaps you'll have to curb your competitive instincts. But if you're playing with people who are up for a good contest even if it means they don't hit 50% of the balls, go for it!