PDA

View Full Version : How to beat players who hit little pace?


1337Kira
04-16-2008, 05:34 PM
An interesting predicament for me...
I was on varsity, but got moved down after losing to a pusher.
Now that I'm on JV I'm doing worse!
I keep playing kids who just hit the ball so slowwwwwwwww.

Maybe I get tight and tentative because I don't want to lose, but either way I just have trouble beating players who hit with no pace!
I'm not sure if they are "pushers" because they aren't necessarily consistent, but I'm just having trouble with their poor shots...
I can hold my own and even beat some varsity guys.
I handle their powerful shots with more ease, even when I have to scramble for a ball, the stroke just feels more solid.

Anyone else have experiences like this?
Any tips?

str33t
04-16-2008, 05:40 PM
I played against a guy like this just yesterday. I attacked the net brutally. It really helps a lot. When you get a short ball, hit a nice approach and come in.

1337Kira
04-16-2008, 05:47 PM
What would be a good approach shot?
It's alot harder for my to find the corners on junk they throw at me...
I always find the ball in the net, or just mess up.
I am relying too much on my opponents power?
Or am I just not used timing my swing on a slow ball?

It just might be a mental barrier I have to surpass...
But I have no idea how to surpass it.
=[

WildVolley
04-16-2008, 05:55 PM
When I started coaching beginners a lot, I learned how to hit a ball that has no pace. Use very aggressive footwork. Get there early. Then keep your head. Forget about beating the opponent or hitting a clean winner. Pick a target and hit to the target. Stroke through the ball with topspin if it is high and sitting. If it is low get it over the net.

The average unpracticed player gets a ball that is too "fat" and freaks out - ripping it into the net or hitting long. Play controlled percentage tennis to the opponent's weakness and follow it in to take away time and you'll start to get easy wins.

spiritdragon
04-16-2008, 07:28 PM
just play his game and hit the ball lightly but deep back at him until you feel warmed up, at which time you can start playing more aggressively. also, if u r fit, just try to move the ball around a lot and tire ur opponent out.

Cup8489
04-16-2008, 07:33 PM
When I started coaching beginners a lot, I learned how to hit a ball that has no pace. Use very aggressive footwork. Get there early. Then keep your head. Forget about beating the opponent or hitting a clean winner. Pick a target and hit to the target. Stroke through the ball with topspin if it is high and sitting. If it is low get it over the net.

The average unpracticed player gets a ball that is too "fat" and freaks out - ripping it into the net or hitting long. Play controlled percentage tennis to the opponent's weakness and follow it in to take away time and you'll start to get easy wins.

if youre playing jv at the high school level the vast majority of these types of players will go down to consistency. i had to deal with these all through my first two years in hs. just keep it in, down the middle. they will make the mistake, if you're as good as you say. don't do more than is necessary. put some spin on it, just enough to vary the bounce slightly, but dont try to win against them. effectively, counterpunch. it takes a long time, but this also works against lower varsity level players as well. consistency is the one thing most high schoolers (myself included, in those days) don't have. just use consistency, and as long as you dont hit floaters, you should have no problem.

ryanq
04-16-2008, 07:35 PM
I encountered a lot of people like this. Before all my shots go long because I was used to rely on opponents power. Now I usually change my grip towards western (Im semi-western) so i dont have to change my playing style.

skierpaul
04-16-2008, 07:58 PM
What works really well for me is to not rush the shot.... I have a tendency to want to just absolutely kill slow balls.

Make sure that your takeback is nice and slow, (its a slow ball, so you've got plenty of time to set up the shot) and then only accelerate your racket JUST BEFORE you're about to make contact.

This is harder to do than it sounds, its EASY to be inpatient. Just keep telling yourself "SLOW, SLOW, SLOW, HIT!"

Gantz
04-16-2008, 08:03 PM
if you feel frustrated just start hitting lobs down the middle of the court. share your frustration with your opponent.

Vision84
04-16-2008, 08:04 PM
Read the sticky thread at the top of this section about how to play pushers.

maverick66
04-16-2008, 08:35 PM
be patient. they thrive on you being dumb. hit alot of croscourts and be safe. if there floating you should be adble to pick your spot and run them. if they go 2-3 sets of running side to side without missing they earned the win. dont ever feel you have to rush a point caue they cant hurt you. if there just pushing back they cant win they can only wait for you to lose.

5263
04-16-2008, 08:44 PM
why do you call them lesser players?

pretty strokes are not a requirement for winning.
Power is not required.

Making more shots usually IS required.

Most likely, the player who is making more shots is the better player of the two. The Sooner you accept that, the sooner you can get on with making more shots and being a better player.

Djokovicfan4life
04-16-2008, 09:35 PM
If they beat you then they're not "lower caliber" players, that's just silly. Work on your consistency and footwork. Never lose focus just because you're not under as much pressure.

Good luck!

DJG
04-16-2008, 11:40 PM
When I started coaching beginners a lot, I learned how to hit a ball that has no pace. Use very aggressive footwork. Get there early. Then keep your head. Forget about beating the opponent or hitting a clean winner. Pick a target and hit to the target. Stroke through the ball with topspin if it is high and sitting. If it is low get it over the net.

It is so weird. Yesterday I had a practice session with an old pusher. Initially he had issues returning my pacy shots (even when I think I had not too much pace on them), and when he started getting those back, I started struggling - since he was giving me little to no pace to work with, I found myself hitting long every now and again.

Well, I did exactly the above - get into position, keeping my head, making sure the things go in. Not putting them away immediately (we were practicing after all), but playing difficult shots without trying to kill everything. At the end of the day I actually felt like a better player although the skill-level between us is big - he is around a 3.0, I'm a 4.5.

anchorage
04-17-2008, 01:01 AM
This is an interesting thread; here's my take. I started playing tennis again at the start of January after a multi-year lay-off. At my club, I play with the so-called advanced players who are meant to be below 5 rating. In truth, the best intermediates and less good advanced players are pretty interchangeable. Overall, though, it means I can play all the shots.

A couple of weeks ago, I played a guy and 'won' easily (6-1,6-2). However, when I left the court, I felt pretty dissatisfied. Really, I hadn't so much won as he lost. He hit so many uforced errors it was untrue. Analysing the game, I reckon I really won no more than 30% of the atcual points gained. I was simply playing within myself, hitting at about 70% power and letting him lose. My conclusion was, fine, it won the game but it's not the way to play tennis. I have now resolved to play more aggressively all the time in order to dominate. That means some changes to my game.

Specifically, the problem raised here is a lack of higher level ball control. (In reality, thats my problem.) The reason so many players cannot handle slow, loopy returns is simply because they cannot control their own spin. As a result, trying to generate your own pace leads to a loss of control and errors. Hitting from the back of the court is easy, there's a huge margin. The guys who shuffle it back will often give you shorter balls. Truth is, I know, at the moment, I simply cannot be as aggressive as I should be on the shorter ball - I easily hit is long. Again, this is simply due to not putting enough spin on the ball to keep it in. That's the one area of my game that I'm working on to improve more than any other.

I think we all have an image of how the game should be played. It comes from the pros; hit consistently with tons of power, it's great. What they have that most of us don't is fantastic technique and therefore control. Don't knock the guys who beat you by hitting slow shots. Look at the defects in your own game.

Djokovicfan4life
04-17-2008, 03:59 AM
This is an interesting thread; here's my take. I started playing tennis again at the start of January after a multi-year lay-off. At my club, I play with the so-called advanced players who are meant to be below 5 rating. In truth, the best intermediates and less good advanced players are pretty interchangeable. Overall, though, it means I can play all the shots.

A couple of weeks ago, I played a guy and 'won' easily (6-1,6-2). However, when I left the court, I felt pretty dissatisfied. Really, I hadn't so much won as he lost. He hit so many uforced errors it was untrue. Analysing the game, I reckon I really won no more than 30% of the atcual points gained. I was simply playing within myself, hitting at about 70% power and letting him lose. My conclusion was, fine, it won the game but it's not the way to play tennis. I have now resolved to play more aggressively all the time in order to dominate. That means some changes to my game.

Specifically, the problem raised here is a lack of higher level ball control. (In reality, thats my problem.) The reason so many players cannot handle slow, loopy returns is simply because they cannot control their own spin. As a result, trying to generate your own pace leads to a loss of control and errors. Hitting from the back of the court is easy, there's a huge margin. The guys who shuffle it back will often give you shorter balls. Truth is, I know, at the moment, I simply cannot be as aggressive as I should be on the shorter ball - I easily hit is long. Again, this is simply due to not putting enough spin on the ball to keep it in. That's the one area of my game that I'm working on to improve more than any other.

I think we all have an image of how the game should be played. It comes from the pros; hit consistently with tons of power, it's great. What they have that most of us don't is fantastic technique and therefore control. Don't knock the guys who beat you by hitting slow shots. Look at the defects in your own game.

If he wants to give away the match then why stop him?

Although going 2 full sets giving away games with unforced errors is just stupid, why not just forfeit if you can't get it in?

You're right though, it's not the greatest way of winning, for sure. The way I see it, higher level players have the ability to finish the point BEFORE their opponent does it for them.

anchorage
04-17-2008, 04:11 AM
No, that's fine, I was quite happy for him to implode. I was looking at it from my point of view, though. I find a lot of the time, people switch totally from practice to playing mode.

At my club we have a number of instruction and matchplay clinics. I find that, in the drills part, everyone hits freely. Once the match part starts, the whole tone changes. Really, I'm just looking to get a bit more control of my game rather than simply matching it up to the opposition. I suppose that's the way to ultimately improve.....

Djokovicfan4life
04-17-2008, 04:44 AM
I know what you mean, I have to tell myself to swing the racquet the same way that I do in practice during matches. It's really dumb, I know that I just make more errors when I hold back, and yet I still do it! Grrrrrrrr! :mad:

baek57
04-17-2008, 04:44 AM
first requirement of tennis: get the ball in. you are losing to 'lesser' players because despite the fact that they may hit softer than you, they are hitting more balls in the court. it sounds like your problem is that you are trying to force things too much, and playing outside your ability, either aiming too close to lines or hitting too hard. get the ball in first, then worry about the other stuff.

Djokovicfan4life
04-17-2008, 04:53 AM
Maybe aim a couple feet away from the lines to add consistency, like baek just said.

swimntennis
04-17-2008, 05:25 AM
I've had success around these types of players by making them do something. I'll send a really short slice in the middle of the court, drawing them into net. I'll see what they do with it. If you do this, try to be actively moving around the baseline trying to get them to over-think what they should do the with "easy" ball. If they don't make an error, you should be able to pass/lob them most of the time.

Also, look out for certain tendencies. I employed the strategy above against a kid who always went to my backhand on these shots. Even though he hit good approach shots, I knew where he was going every time and he didn't bother to change directions.

CAM178
04-17-2008, 05:39 AM
First off, I know how this feels as that's what I lost to in my last tourney. Not much more humbling that being the 1 seed and losing 1st rd to a pusher.

Anyway, my advice is to hit out and not worry about them. Or you can do what I do, which is (besides my last match against the pusher!) to beat them at their own game. I will hit moonballs, slices, and drop shots until they can't take any more. I can do this because I've got the fitness and cardio to last.

That being said, it also depends on if I have matches that day, or if I know I'm going to have a tough match the next day (as in a tournament setting). If that is the case, then get on & off of the court as quickly as possible. Conserve your energy. Run the hell out of them, and they'll stop pushing quickly. They'll want to end the points quickly, and will start to hit out.

Off The Wall
04-17-2008, 06:23 AM
Some good advice on this thread.

Sometimes a player will think they should have to put a ball away because it's slow and short and because pros do it routinely. Instead, think of it as an approach shot...not a winner opportunity.

zebano
04-17-2008, 07:14 AM
I know what you mean, I have to tell myself to swing the racquet the same way that I do in practice during matches. It's really dumb, I know that I just make more errors when I hold back, and yet I still do it! Grrrrrrrr! :mad:

This is what I do when I'm not thinking.

With slow balls
1. Get there early.
2. Don't worry about maximal pace, 80% will do.
3. Even with reduced pace, make sure you take a full cut at the ball!
a. Full backswing
b. Full follow through.
4. Make him run. The corner is good, but leave yourself a large margin since he's going to give you these shots over and over again.
5. Follow the shot to the net and finish the point.


#3 is where I most often screw up pushing against a pusher is a bad recipe.

nytennisaddict
04-17-2008, 07:56 AM
I used to hate playing "pushers", now I realize they are the next best thing to a backboard (some might be nicknamed as such).

I never understand why I had such trouble with these paceless wonders. There ball is slower... shouldn't I be able to tee off on the ball that much easier (often I'd shank the ball)? I think it has to do with the trajectory of their ball moving through my strike zone. I imagine my strike zone as a cylinder that's angled slightly upward (but more or less horizontal), at around waist height. My "cylinder" is much longer (say 2x) that it is wide... so that means there's more forgiveness hitting the ball late/early than there is hitting it at the correct height.

Hitting with someone that hits faster usually means that the ball is travelling lengthwise through my strikezone for longer, with not much deviation in height (because it's going fast). I could also shorten my stroke, and redirect fast pace, making timing easier as well.. Whereas hitting against a pusher, the ball tended to be lob-like shot, causing the ball to travel through my strike zone much quicker (ie. it crosses my cylinder through the "narrow" section), and I need to take a bigger swing to get any pace on the ball (making my timing harder as well).

So basically pushers highlight how bad my footwork/timing are/were (ie. I could wait for the ball more against fast hitters, but I had to move to the ball more against pushers) at the baseline. Coming to net also avoids this as well, but I had to develop a transition/net/overhead game (which I'm still working on). I actually enjoy playing a baseline game against a pusher (normally I'd attack at the net), because it really highlights how (in)consistent my baseline game is (taking normal strokes... vs. dinking it back like I used to try to do).

anyway, that's my $0.02...

5263
04-17-2008, 03:48 PM
Great post NY.

Djokovicfan4life
04-17-2008, 03:56 PM
This is what I do when I'm not thinking.

With slow balls
1. Get there early.
2. Don't worry about maximal pace, 80% will do.
3. Even with reduced pace, make sure you take a full cut at the ball!
a. Full backswing
b. Full follow through.
4. Make him run. The corner is good, but leave yourself a large margin since he's going to give you these shots over and over again.
5. Follow the shot to the net and finish the point.


#3 is where I most often screw up pushing against a pusher is a bad recipe.

My footwork tends to slow up when I get paceless balls, it's getting better though. :)

I ripped some nice forehands today, then it rained. :mad:

1337Kira
04-17-2008, 04:52 PM
Well I paid more attention to my game today.
Perhaps it's more that I have trouble focusing unless I'm in an intense rally.
I took more time on my footwork and it made things alot easier.
As a result, I won both my matches today.
I also payed attention to my shot choices today and realized I'm taking too much time to think when they hit slow shots.

Thanks alot for all the great advice peoples.

1337Kira
04-17-2008, 04:54 PM
This is what I do when I'm not thinking.

With slow balls
1. Get there early.
2. Don't worry about maximal pace, 80% will do.
3. Even with reduced pace, make sure you take a full cut at the ball!
a. Full backswing
b. Full follow through.
4. Make him run. The corner is good, but leave yourself a large margin since he's going to give you these shots over and over again.
5. Follow the shot to the net and finish the point.


#3 is where I most often screw up pushing against a pusher is a bad recipe.

Oh man, my coach noticed that.
He said I'm too afraid of losing and I end up really stiff and not following through.

Bungalo Bill
04-17-2008, 05:00 PM
An interesting predicament for me...
I was on varsity, but got moved down after losing to a pusher.
Now that I'm on JV I'm doing worse!
I keep playing kids who just hit the ball so slowwwwwwwww.
Whenever I play someone of "lower caliber", the unforced errors just pile up!
Maybe I get tight and tentative because I don't want to lose, but either way I just have trouble beating players who hit with no pace!
I'm not sure if they are "pushers" because they aren't necessarily consistent, but I'm just having trouble with their poor shots...
I can hold my own and even beat some varsity guys.
I handle their powerful shots with more ease, even when I have to scramble for a ball, the stroke just feels more solid.

Anyone else have experiences like this?
Any tips?

Sounds like you are an overhitter.

Playing people that do not give you any pace requires you to have good balance and a smooth stroke. This means you should be able to move the ball around and balance consistency with placement, depth, and pace.

If you are the type of person that just hits the ball, chances are you are trying to hit it too hard without knowing it.

1337Kira
04-17-2008, 05:15 PM
Lol Bungalo. I appreciate it. I was feeling pretty down xD

Bungalo Bill
04-17-2008, 06:19 PM
Lol Bungalo. I appreciate it. I was feeling pretty down xD

No doubt, pushers will do that to anyone that loses to them. I have lost my fair share to them in the past.

However, this is what I noted when I lost to them:

1. My footwork wasn't sharp.

2. Therefore, my balance was inconsistent on shots

3. I rushed my shots and forced things, especially when I got frustrated

4. I wasn't putting away the short ball or making too many errors with short balls.

5. I didnt unlock my opponents weakness. I couldnt find it quick enough. Which means I was usually self-absorbed with my lack of play.

6. I tried to hit winners when they weren't there. I couldn't recognize why there wasn't an opening.

7. I was impatient

8. I never practiced or seldom practiced being consistent even if it meant slowing it down in practice.

Now, I could sit in my room and cry about this all day, or I could devise a plan to help me improve and consider it "lessons learned". So which is it going to be for you? I could easily come up with a practice plan with this information right? What does your analysis look like?

Tempyst
04-17-2008, 06:28 PM
Go to the net and get set for a lob. :D

Kobble
04-17-2008, 08:47 PM
Topspin helps against the pusher, and fitness is the finisher. When you can hit effective topsin on numerous balls they know they have to start making shots. Problem is, most can't, and crumble as you would if you weren't consistent enough. My initial test is to see if they can hit winners from high balls to the backhand. If they can't, they are in trouble.

brownbearfalling
04-17-2008, 10:25 PM
All these replies criticize your game. But what if you are true more experienced than the other players, not some one who plays another sport and makes it on varsity just because of athletic ability, than you are doing fine and losing to pushers is normal. All it is is your mental game. So my advice:

K.I.S.S. method. Keep it simple STUPID. In high school and especially on jv they can't do more any more than hit the ball back. That's were their skill is at. So play like they play. Play at their pace. Sometimes they start to miss because they are worse than you and you are starting to get into their head because they are used the their opponents missing. But if you start missing than you are the more unexperienced player. But if the rally goes on for ever than start slowly increasing the pace. This is a more basic and easy form of mixing it up. This strategy is simple so that it doesn't through you off. It has a very direct and easy objective so it is easy to keep in mind in matches. It keeps up your focus too.

But if you don't like this method, than think of some other way to keep your mind in the match and concentrated. Being concentrated will help you use good form and appropriate foot work (don't let your feet get lazy).

Play enough of them and if you try different things and experiment, you'll find a solution.
________
Motorcycle tires (http://www.motorcycle-tech.com/tires/motorcycle-tires)

Pusher
04-17-2008, 11:24 PM
Some posters indicate that playing pushers is a stern test of your footwork. I think that is the key-the reason so many have problems with those guys.

Returning loopy, no pace balls, demands that your feet must keep moving longer than usual. If you are used to setting your feet at the bounce or slightly before then a pusher's ball will leave you off balance. You won't stay in the "loaded position" long enough to hit a well balanced shot.

I always recommend that you maintain racquet speed while hitting the ball a little later than usual-let it drop more. A cardinal sin in high level play but with pushers you manitain your normal racquet speed while getting more topsin for control. You, taking the ball on the rise, is what a pusher wants-an almost guranteed unforced error for anyone below the 5.0 level.

Don't change the direction of the ball-hit it back where it came from-the changes in timing are already tough enough-don't make things more difficult. Eventually you will get a short ball that you can put away.

Relax and understand that you will not look good or feel good while playing a pusher. The object is to win-not impress the pusher or others with the fact that you can hit harder.

boojay
04-18-2008, 03:17 PM
Lately, I've been beating pushers in one of three ways (usually mixing up the three, but one always predominates); If I'm feeling it, and my footwork and swing are in auto-mode, I'll just beat the fuzz off the ball regardless of the pace, spin, or placement of the ball. I'm rarely in this mode, but it's the one I go to first in case I am hitting well that day. I'll back off if my shots aren't landing, which is often the case. I'll then switch over to angle mode where I hit with nothing but spin. Sure, shots will land a little short, but I make sure to hit with enough angle and spin to pull the pusher right off the court. This way I'll run my opponent silly and he'll either give me an easy ball to put away at the net or he'll eventually commit an error trying to go for too much. My last resort (namely because it's my weakest area) is to serve and volley. I actually mix this in anyway, but if I'm consistently given floater returns off my first serves, I'll take off some pace from my serve, put more spin and focus more on placement to give myself a better look at coming to the net.

If none of that works, the other guy's better and I need to improve and come up with better strategies.

Bagumbawalla
04-18-2008, 03:43 PM
When you are given very little pace, the temptation is to -- either freeze up ang "baby' the ball back, or try to create your own pace by powering the ball back.

Either way results in poor techinque because you have changed your stroke production from the style you have been taught to something inferior.

What you need to do is use your best, purest, freeist, form-- get your timing right and hit your shots smoothly, without trying to force anything, all the while moving to and through the ball.

You can practice this kind of hitting by having a friend toss you ball that just bounces up, leaving it to you to move in and create speed, pace, spin, from virtually nothing at all-- using perfect form and timing, not brute strength.

good luck

kv123
05-08-2008, 04:57 PM
When you play agaisnt players with power you don't need to generate the power yourself and instead use theirs and redirection it. When you play against pushers you need to generate your own power and control. For slow shots you need to work on timing and controling your own power. Drills will come in handy here.

Have someone who can hit flat feed shots high and slow too you and practice either getting them back into play or putting them into the corners or away.

FedererISBetter
05-08-2008, 08:59 PM
No doubt, pushers will do that to anyone that loses to them. I have lost my fair share to them in the past.

However, this is what I noted when I lost to them:

1. My footwork wasn't sharp.

2. Therefore, my balance was inconsistent on shots

3. I rushed my shots and forced things, especially when I got frustrated

4. I wasn't putting away the short ball or making too many errors with short balls.

5. I didnt unlock my opponents weakness. I couldnt find it quick enough. Which means I was usually self-absorbed with my lack of play.

6. I tried to hit winners when they weren't there. I couldn't recognize why there wasn't an opening.

7. I was impatient

8. I never practiced or seldom practiced being consistent even if it meant slowing it down in practice.

Now, I could sit in my room and cry about this all day, or I could devise a plan to help me improve and consider it "lessons learned". So which is it going to be for you? I could easily come up with a practice plan with this information right? What does your analysis look like?

5. I didnt unlock my opponents weakness. I couldnt find it quick enough. Which means I was usually self-absorbed with my lack of play.
3. I rushed my shots and forced things, especially when I got frustrated

Thank you for such lost wisdom : ) I played paceless, consistant dude at 7:30 and got a date at 9:15 lol, MISTAKE!! At least I didn;t lose, but probably am getting a grey hair or two :/