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View Full Version : Playing a Pusher


TripleThreatPlayer
03-02-2004, 04:28 PM
Today I accepted a classmates challenge to play a one set match. This guy was a 100% pusher. He didn't have any strong or weak stroke, didn't shoot any winners, but was short and extremly quick on the court. I tried pushing him from side to side with crosscourts to open up the court (I'm a baseliner) but he always got to the ball, and alot of the time sent back balls that landed in the service area. When he forced me to come to the net, I ended up giving spinless, easy to return balls. Sooner or later I would make a unforced error. This really got to me, and my 4-1 lead was brought to a 4-4. I ended up barely winning at 7-6 (tie break).

My questions: What is the best way to deal with those short balls? Whats the best way to attack a pushers game? How can I deal with the mental pressure of slipping to a person who is clearly not as good as you?

Thanks

corncob3466
03-02-2004, 05:28 PM
dude, i hate that. just try to stick to your game plan, and try to make him screw up. try hitting a drop shot, and if he returns it, hit a lob over his head. hell get to it if hes fast, but make him run and keep him honest. thats all the advice i can give you that usually works if the guy isnt as good as you.

jayserinos99
03-02-2004, 09:19 PM
I enjoy playing pushers because I can push them around with my big forehand. Anyways, the one thing to practice is the approach shot by turning your shoulders early and sell the down the line and when they anticipate that, hit it crosscourt. Even if they get that back, you should have an easy volley. When you start to feel like you're slipping mentally, you should try to clear your mind and take it one point at a time. Better yet, don't play the opponent, play the ball.

andreh
03-03-2004, 02:45 AM
S&V. Club level pushers, at least, often do no have any defense against S&V. If you can do it well you'll never again lose to a pusher, unless of course he can return serve well.

Camilio Pascual
03-03-2004, 03:22 AM
Pushing is the single greatest tennis game plan ever devised. I am highly amused by all the discussions about them, their game plan is so intelligent and effective, players who lose to them even stoop to claiming they are actually the better player and have "better strokes." Hilarious. The pushers' defense against a S&V player is a lob. Hitting a series of effective shots against low paced balls is a skill many players never master. On average, I'm sure pushers are superior mentally, emotionally, and tactically.

peter
03-03-2004, 04:14 AM
Pushing is the single greatest tennis game plan ever devised. I am highly amused by all the discussions about them, their game plan is so intelligent and effective, players who lose to them even stoop to claiming they are actually the better player and have "better strokes." Hilarious. The pushers' defense against a S&V player is a lob. Hitting a series of effective shots against low paced balls is a skill many players never master. On average, I'm sure pushers are superior mentally, emotionally, and tactically.

Amen to that. During summer 2002 I played (on clay) a neighbor that is a
good (3.5-level, same as me more or less) pusher a number of times and
'was never able to win against him. I'm a baseliner that likes to hit the ball
hard and with top spin...

He just kept on pushing the ball back to him without much (if any) selfgenerated speed. Combined with slice to slow down any fast
balls from me, stop volleys if he get to the
net and lobs if I attacked the net. Extremely frustrating.

Anyway, at the end of that summer we ended up playing
each other in the final of the local club tournament and then I
decided that I would try to play his game instead of trying to
force my game.

That match must have been one of the most boring
matches to watch when I just hit the ball over the net with very
little pace, and he did the same... Eventuelly he got so frustrated
that he started trying to generate his own pace - and then started to
spread the balls all over just as I had been doing against him earlier
the same summer :-). I won that match :-)

gustavo33
03-03-2004, 05:41 AM
im a pusher and my favorite thing is when my opponent starts to S&V...
im very comfortable with the other guy in the net...i think faster and better.. i like to see this type of player as a target.. basically, they make me a better player

vin
03-03-2004, 06:00 AM
I think the best way to beat a pusher is at the net. You are forcing them to be aggresive which is something they don't want to do. Serve and volley ties right in to this strategy.

I haven't seen many pushers that hit with a lot of topspin, so let them lob. It's going to be hard to get that perfect lob every time that goes over your head but doesn't sail long.

As for the short balls, if it's not a sitter, hit a nice slice approach down the line and put away their 'push'. This will eventually make most of them try to hit harder and/or more accurately to the sides. Now you're making them play outside of their game.

If the short ball is a sitter, put it away. If you're not good at putting these balls away, then this should be an even easier ball to approach off of.

My problem with playing these guys is that my net game is not strong enough, so I make too many mistakes on my approaches or volleys.

As for pushing being the greatest strategy devised, yeah, if you want to be a 3.5 all your life. To have any potential above this level, I think a pusher at least needs to be a retriever that can play aggressively when given a weak ball. I never say that I'm 'better' than a pusher that beats me because I'm confident that in due time my game will develop and I'll be able to come back and whoop their ***. It's all about losing due to 'good' mistakes. :)

Vin

jmckinney
03-03-2004, 08:44 AM
Vin,

Are you a moron or what? I have a friend who is a pusher who has beaten many 4.5 players and won alot of usta tournaments. He hits no topspin at all. The guy is extremely smart and fast on the court. He beats serve and volleyers as well as baseliners who can put short balls away. He is definately 4.5 player or above. The guy drives people to a mental asylum after they are done playing him. If a pusher is good and can keep their slices deep and put the ball where they want it then they can be extremely tough players to beat. He used to drive me insane but now I play at 5.0 level, futures tournaments and can beat him every time. But I know almost where he is going with his shots when he hits them because I have played him many times. He played the qualies of a futures and won two rounds before being taken out by a guy ranked 400 and some in the world. Even the pro had times of frustration against him. A good pusher will win alot of matches against good players if they are good at their game. It is the wannabe pushers who put the ball short for their opponents. A real pusher is able to put the ball deep consistently.

@wright
03-03-2004, 09:20 AM
Pushers who have a complete game-meaning they can volley well, lob, put away short balls, and hit with varying spins and pace, are very tough to beat regardless.

vin
03-03-2004, 09:47 AM
Vin,

Are you a moron or what?

Certainly not, are you?

I consider a 'pusher' to be a somewhat derogatory term describing a player that takes a half swing at the ball (i.e. 'push') with the primary strategy being to keep it in play and wait for the opponent to miss.

Your friend is clearly more advanced than that, which is why I wouldn't consider him to be a pusher. There are even pros that don't blast out winners, but focus more on percentages and forcing errors. They are forcing errors by hitting solid shots, not 'pushing' the ball back.

A moron is someone with the equivelant intellectuality of an 8 year old, not someone who has a different interpretation of tennis slang. Ironically, I think an 8 year old would be able to make this distinction.

polakosaur
03-03-2004, 09:53 AM
just be more consistent, if you have to on the court for 2 hoyrs so be it. hit one more ball back than he can. you don't have to hit winners at every chance hit the ball corner to corner wait for them to give you a short ball and work the point.

ohplease
03-03-2004, 10:03 AM
I consider a 'pusher' to be a somewhat derogatory term describing a player that takes a half swing at the ball (i.e. 'push') with the primary strategy being to keep it in play and waiting for the opponent to miss.

I'd agree with the half swing bit, but as far as the "waiting for the opponent to miss" bit - why not?

Frankly, I've met very few players at 4.0 and a significant minority at 4.5 that have trouble hitting more than 3-5 forcing shots in a row without screwing it up. If it's the case that all I have to do is hang out until Agassi Jr. gives me an error, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

What I can't stand about the whole "pusher" argument is the implication that "pushers" can't play. The reality is that if you're donating shots that you'd rather hit hard than "in" - then there's some serious doubt as to who, exactly, is the one who can't play.

There's also the whole bit about not liking to play pushers. In general, I don't like reducing tennis to a monotonous waiting for someone to donate points to me, either - unless we're talking about conserving mental/physical energy during a tournament or something.

It's like playing with savvy seniors. They don't have to hurt you if you hurt yourself first, you know?

vin
03-03-2004, 10:11 AM
ohplease,

I agree. I don't see anything wrong at all with basing your game on your opponent missing, but the difference between the 'pusher' and the advanced player using this strategy is that the advanced player uses, as you put it, forcing shots to help the miss come about.

I'd enjoy playing someone like this and would not have anything bad at all to say about their game.

Vin

jmckinney
03-03-2004, 10:20 AM
I consider a 'pusher' to be a somewhat derogatory term describing a player that takes a half swing at the ball (i.e. 'push') with the primary strategy being to keep it in play and wait for the opponent to miss.

I would consider that a poor tennis player, kind of like a tennis player just starting to compete. And frankly a pusher can take a full swing, what makes a pusher is there type of play. They keep the ball in play. My friend is advanced but very much still a pusher. He hits not topspin, all slice. His motive is to play the ball back until you miss, not hit winners. He can, but you have to be all the way off the court and leave the other side of the court wide open. He has no pace.

audioaffliction
03-03-2004, 10:28 AM
Interesting thread. It's obvious that there are two types of pushers, neither of which should be taken as derogatory:

1. Pusher A: A player who has never mastered "textbook" technique of tennis strokes and strives to win by simply retrieving lots of balls and staying in a point until his opponent makes a mistake.

2. Pusher B: A player who has command of "textbook" strokes, but doesn't play with a lot of power and does not generally go for winners.

I think Pusher A is what the original poster had in mind when he started this thread. Brad Gilbert comes to mind as the best example of Pusher B. Either way, it's not easy beating these guys. In my opinion, it's not right to say that "I was a better player, but I lost to Pusher A." Having better strokes is one thing, but being a better player involves consistency, mental toughness and intelligent play on the court.

I'm not a big fan of playing guys like Pusher A, and they can frustrate me as much as the next guy. However, I've since decided that I'm not so much into winning as I am into simply playing well and going for my shots. So these days, when I encounter Pusher A, I indulge myself in all my favorite bad habits: drop shots followed by lobs, going for big returns and generally mixing everything up. Have fun!

ohplease
03-03-2004, 10:48 AM
I agree. I don't see anything wrong at all with basing your game on your opponent missing, but the difference between the 'pusher' and the advanced player using this strategy is that the advanced player uses, as you put it, forcing shots to help the miss come about.

That's the thing - I often run into so-called "advanced" players who look great - but I don't have to "help the miss come about" AT ALL. In fact, I often find the rope-a-dope works wonders - purposely give someone a short ball - and if they miss more often than not?

Then I'm your pusher, baby. And I probably just won the set, too.

Thunnus
03-04-2004, 04:40 AM
I laugh whenever someone says "just come to net or serve and volley and you should be able to beat pushers easily". Obviously, they haven't played against good pushers who are very good at passing shots and lobs. Especially, if you not that strong at the net game, this will be a suiside to use this tactic.

A good pusher can put away short balls and do well at the net, whenever you relax a bit and give him an easy ball to hit with. If you are indeed a better player, you should have superior ground strokes. You should move the pusher around by aiming big targets well inside sidelines and wait for a short ball to put away. If you can't do this, the pusher is a better player than you and you can't really complain because you are plain beat by a better tennis player.

Thunnus
03-04-2004, 05:00 AM
I have had difficulty dealing with these damm pushers ever since I started playing tennis. I still have nightmares of losing to the pushers in my high school days. I have had suffered many heartbreaking losses in my USTA competition. However, once I became pretty consistent at hitting hard topspin ground strokes and learned what these pushers feed on, it became very easy to beat them.

Once you realize that they can't really hurt you from the baseline, you can then take a lot of pressure off from yourself. You can play as if you are having a ralley with your practice partner. You don't have to go for winners all the time. Wait for your chance. Be light on your feet and keep hitting the ball hard and deep. You may find that they may zip about good in the beginning but soon or later they will get tired of doing all the running and will start missing or give you short balls. Even on those easier balls, don't go for broke. Play a high percentage shot and come to the net and finish the point.

The last thing that you want to do is to either go for too much or become tenative and play their game. Impose your superior ground game (or net game) on them. Don't give them time to play their junk shots. Make them run and make them deal with your pace and topspin. Come to the net once you hit a good shot and you see them on the run and don't let them push the ball back in play by hitting a winning volley.

vin
03-04-2004, 05:50 AM
I think this thread is categorizing a broad range of players as 'pushers'. Based on this, I think the strategy used to beat these people needs to be player specific.

To me, a player with good passing shots contradicts what a pusher is, but it seems that I'm the minority on that opinion. I guess we can all at least agree that there are different types of pushers, but as I stated above, this makes it almost impossible to develop a generalized strategy.

Most pushers I have played have a nack for hitting short low balls and my solid groundstrokes don't help me much on these shots. I think it would be an advantage for me to get to the net on my terms instead of theirs with S&V and chip & charge. Or is someone now going to jump in saying they played a pusher with a huge serve and great returns? :shock:

It seems that most of you are talking about a different type of player. If I were playing someone who mostly hit deep, I would not push the issue of getting to the net. My groundstrokes are a strength and I'd be up to challenging their consistency.

Vin

kevhen
03-04-2004, 07:00 AM
I agree that a true pusher would not have great passing shots and could generally be beaten by coming to net against them.

That is why I don't consider myself a pusher anymore, since my passing shots are quite good, I am not just knocking the ball over the net, even though in long rallies I will give my opponent plenty of junk balls to deal with.

A more complete player will be able to hit slice and topspin at different paces and with different amounts of spin and with these skills shouldn't be labeled a "pusher" just because the pure topspinners struggle against these more complete players.

Kobble
03-04-2004, 11:05 AM
I have learned to not mind the pusher. I used to play with strictly bashers, and it did little for my strategy and game. Now, the most consistantly available players are typically pushers and it forced my game to grow in many directions. My net game has developed and my unforced errors have dropped by more than half. As for strategy there is no one way to beat a pusher, because most have strengths that the other doesn't have. I have seen pushers who can volley, and ones who can't. Some drive the backhand, while others are strictly slice. But the most widely noticed difference I can make is that some play very steady and keep the ball deep ala Hewitt, while some are junk ballers ala Pozzi. The Hewitt type can beat the S&V game, because they often posess accurate passing shots, but the Pozzi type does not return as agressively or pass quite as well, so it is wise to get to the net with them.

Vin, I play a pusher often that gives me no rythym. Sometimes he will go for the biggest forehands or backhands, and most frecuently hits the short low ball to bring me to the net. It used to neutralize my groundstrokes, but now I just hit the short ball into the corners or at his feet, and finish the point with one or two volleys. If he decides to stand way back to counter the approach shot I just hit a dropper that is out of reach since I am already at the service line. It used to get under my skin that he didn't want to rally from the baseline, but I have accpeted he never will. The pusher's mentality is what makes him/her so intersting to me, and I tend to find their mentality a little humorous. I like people who make me laugh. :lol:

andreh
03-06-2004, 02:07 AM
The pushers' defense against a S&V player is a lob.

Consistently lobbing a good S&V player is very difficult. The lob is difficult stroke to hit when under pressure. I'm short (5'8 in my tennis shoes!) but hitting a good lob of my volleys or my sliced backhand approach to the backhand seems to be very difficult. I don't get lobbed a lot.

lesko
03-06-2004, 09:29 PM
I can beat pushers by pushing back, but it ends up being a 2 1/2 hour effort that is unsatisfying even in victory. I would rather lose going for winners than playing a pusher game. For me the joy of tennis is playing forcing topspin drives and pushers will always give me plenty of preparation time, but I'll end up making more errors by playing offensively. Playing with pusher strokes is no fun for me and I'd rather go down swinging.

peter
03-07-2004, 11:35 AM
I can beat pushers by pushing back, but it ends up being a 2 1/2 hour effort that is unsatisfying even in victory. I would rather lose going for winners than playing a pusher game. For me the joy of tennis is playing forcing topspin drives and pushers will always give me plenty of preparation time, but I'll end up making more errors by playing offensively. Playing with pusher strokes is no fun for me and I'd rather go down swinging.

I agree 100% with the quote above. I played against a
pusher in the final of the local club tournament two summers
ago - a player I used to lose against. I decided to try to play
his game of pushing instead of my normal hard-hitting game.

After a long match I finally won - but how *incredibly* boring it
was. Sure, it was fun to win the tournament, but at the same
time it was a so totally unsatsifying way to win that match.

I wowed that the next time I got into the same situation I'd
go for it using my normal game plan instead.

[Unfortunately last summer I had back and leg problems that
prohibited me to play good so I lost in the semifinals and didn't
get to play the pusher - who got into the finals this year too
(and lost :-)].

joe sch
03-07-2004, 12:56 PM
I love playing pushers because it give me the opportunity to go for all the winners. I normally need to S/V or play an agressive allcourt game but against a pusher, I dont mind staying back and going for baseline winners.

Thunnus
03-11-2004, 06:35 AM
Kevhen,

You sound like a good pusher/junkballer.

TwistServe
05-19-2004, 11:14 PM
This thread is pretty humorous and ties into YEMntFtb's recent post about pushers.. Gonna give this one a bumb!

drakulie
05-20-2004, 04:45 AM
Serve and Volley! Attack the net! Blast the overheads! Pushers hate to be rushed! Sure they will get a few lobs over me every once in a while, but not often enough to form a game plan around it, and even come close to hurting me. If you don't have the ability to hit the aforementioned shots, or slap winners all day long from the baseline (which few of us have, including me)-then start taking lessons, or get used to the idea that you are stuck in the level of their domain. and will continue to get pushed-and beat!

kevhen
05-20-2004, 06:03 AM
Yes, thanks, I grew up playing hard hitters so I just blocked their shots back. Plus I was first a baseball player with a slice swing so that is where my forehand slice came from. I could have been the ultimate pusher, but I am having back problems so it's hard for me to work on improving my footspeed without heavy pounding on the back. I just like to win and can't stand losing so I just do whatever it takes to win. I don't like playing good pushers either but I remember those matches well. Last summer I played to a 6-2, 6-2 over a great pusher from KC in the 3.5 sectionals and those sets each lasted for an hour in 100 degree heat. Almost every point was a 10 stroke rally or longer. My first serve was my only advantage. Of course I lost my only 3.5 match of the year right after that one because of exhaustion, in the finals to go to Nationals. The team that beat us in the finals had 8 guys get bumped to 4.0. I was the only one on my team who got bumped but I wanted to get bumped.

TwistServe
05-20-2004, 08:29 AM
To be honest, I think everyone was a pusher at one point.. The first match I ever won, all I was doing was keeping the ball in play anyway possible.. Usually with half swings, pokes, bumps, etc.. At the time, I didn't even know there was a grip change from FH to BH.

But after I took some classes, learned to correct strokes and swing paths, I was able to play aggressively and not think so much about "pushing".. Sure when a fast forehand comes to me and I don't have time to react, I'll block or slice it back..

I think pushers are just someone that's not confident about their strokes yet so they'll do what needs to keep the ball in play until they can start playing with full strokes.

kevhen
05-20-2004, 08:36 AM
I think most beginners are either power players or pushers. Either they try to rip most all of their shots for winners or they just put the racquet out and try to get the ball back over the net. Personality probably has something to do with these extreme styles of offense vs defense. I was always very defensive minded in other sports as well.