Is pushing a viable strategy for double?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Golden Retriever, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever Hall of Fame

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    Pushing is surely a viable strategy for single but how about double? I don't play double at all so I really don't know. Please don't call me stupid.
     
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  2. SlapChop

    SlapChop Semi-Pro

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    put the pusher in the back and the more aggressive player on the net.
     
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  3. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    it would only work if the opposing team can't put away the pushed balls, so it probably would work against the low level doubles teams.
     
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  4. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'll give the obvious answer: It depends on level.

    I watch my opponents' stroke mechanics in the warm-up. If they are pushing, I know exactly what I will do on every single point: Take the net. I will S&V, and I will follow my returns to net. I know that the pusher cannot ever hit a dipper below net level. Nor can they hit a sharp angle because they won't have the topspin needed to keep the ball in the court.

    All they will be able to do is lob, so I will be ready for that.

    I've lost *a lot* of 3.5 ladies doubles matches, but can't recall losing to an out-and-out pusher.
     
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  5. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    The short answer is no.

    The whole point of doubles is that you have the advantage of a netman from the very first stroke. The netman's job is to put away errant strokes, thus high percentage shots with little pace or angle should be immediately punished. Thus shots from the baseline need something more than clearing the net and landing within the lines, they need, pace, spin, angle or placement.
     
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  6. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I agree with Cindy. It depends on the level. A quick question for Cindy, how you can tell if your oppon's stroke is pushing? Im trying to recall who's pushing in the groups I play but I can't tell. Everyone just hits with a different pace and spin and different ball trajectories. That's all.

    With that said, since I see all shots in term of pace and spin, it makes no different how the ball gets hit to me. I would just punish the low-paced and easy set-up balls. I'm more deterred by fast incoming shots. With a little placement or angled a bit they would cause you to stretch your legs and constantly switch between FH & BH, and you'll eventually lose out. That's the nature of this sport.
     
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  7. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    Depends on the level... I have seen some pushers in my time with excellent lobs... consistantly within a foot or two from the baseline... they win and win ugly... but they win.

    As the level of play increases the approach shots (serves) are better placed with more spin and movement making it more difficult for the pusher to hit an effective defensive shot... and thus more points are won by the aggressive player.
     
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  8. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    If the opposing team can't volley or hit overheads, then pushing can work in doubles.
     
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  9. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I can tell if it is a pushing stroke largely (in ladies 3.5) due to a lack of finish over the shoulder. If there is a way to generate topspin with a short, incomplete stroke, I don't know what it is. Without topspin, they can't hurt me. If they try to hit hard and flat, their ball will too often hit the tape (because they are trying to keep it low). If they have a short ball, they will not have enough court to work with; lacking topspin, they will have decrease pace.

    Regarding whether it matters how the ball gets to you . . . I find it matters a lot. The determining factor in whether I hit a defensive shot or offensive shot is whether I reach the volley above net level or below net level. Those who hit with topspin can get the ball below net level, forcing me to hit up and defensively. Those who send me the ball flat (or pushed) let me make contact above net level.

    Granted, if someone has enough pace they can cause me trouble with a flat ball. Fortunately, pushers lose mathematically because for every ball they get by me with flat pace and placement they will hit three long or into the net strap.
     
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  10. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Same as in singles, pushing works up to a certain level. After that, you have to evolve to counterpunching or junk-balling.

    The higher the level becomes however, only the best net players with the most solidly rounded doubles game (serve, returns, and net play mostly) and the best connection will win. Usually depends on the net play though. The faster your hands and the better you can put the ball away whenever you can get a racket on it, the easier things get.
     
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  11. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    One thing most good pushers have going for them is "ball location" so as several have mentioned, it is effective to a certain extent/level.
     
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  12. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    I find its not very effective. The big problem is in singles you can really do well with a medium to slow paced deep fairly high over the net 'rally ball'. But in doubles this shot is smacked for a winner by the net person. In singles if you use that and your opponent goes to the net you can often adjust your stroke so it goes over his head. However again in doubles there is already a person back to handle the lobs.

    I think my doubles experience has helped me get over my pushing ways but sometimes I play with a female partner and they hit shots like that and the net guy just smacks the crap out of it. Its very disheartening. Pushing by and large is a singles strategy, IMHO.

    Pete
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
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  13. jserve

    jserve Rookie

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    I would have to disagree with some of the posts in this thread. I think pushing can be successful at all levels of doubles if done well. Just as aggressive players improve their games, so do the pushers. Keep in mind a 5.0 pusher is not going to be hitting lofty balls over the center of the net. By that level a consistent controlled player will be using spins and angles very effectively and wont be giving the more aggressive players easy put aways.

    In fact, I much prefer playing power players than I do pushers at the 5.0 level because its easier to use their own pace against them when volleying.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I agree with Jserve...
    Pushers don't always just lob it back up the middle. I know lots, including myself, who can play 5.0 Men's doubles and never hit a topspin shot. Slice is height control, angle control, and depth control. Mix it up with controlled deep lobs, and it works just fine most of the time.
    Topspin is overrated for singles and doubles. Placement, pace, and accuracy with consistency is the more important thing.
     
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  15. forthegame

    forthegame Hall of Fame

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    Sorry to sound really dumb, but this has been bugging ever since I joined TT. What exactly is a 'pusher'?
     
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  16. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    pusher is a player who would return all the shots and wait for his opponent to make an error.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Exactly.
    Pushers return shots waiting for your errors.
    Given a chance, they'd choose to prolong the agony rather than end the point.
    They can hit topspins, sidespins, any kind of spins, can hit passing shots, big serves, volleys, but choose to just get the ball back. Conservative winning strategy.
     
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  18. jserve

    jserve Rookie

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    A pusher is a player that is not aggressive at all and relies on consistency to win points. Its a very successful style of play even though the term pusher has a negative stigma about it since its a very frustrating style to play against.
     
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  19. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    How right you are. If the other guys are bad and i mean really bad,, it may work. you are just hoping for the other guys to miss, however..
     
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  20. tennisguy2009

    tennisguy2009 New User

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    yes pushing is viable in doubles, very much so, but only if the pushers aim to get to net

    Just played this weekend against 2 veteran doubles players in their 50s, one a tennis coach and the other the club tennis pro, both with 40 years tennis experience (each)

    My partner was 30 years old, 5.0+ rated, very fast on court, heavy spin on both wings, same as me.

    First set we beat the old boys but not as soundly as i would have thought, we won 6-3 by overpowering them, especially punishing them in the heavy topspin crosscourt rallys where net player could not participate, they got crushed again and again there. One of the opponents had a good serve so thats where they got 2 of the 3 games.

    2nd set they changed tactics, they lobbed everything expertly and both came to net on lobs every point, every single lob was inches from baseline. And on their serves, they started serving very low very short very sliced serves, difficult to get heavy topspin off, then lobbing the return and just running to net.

    suddenly we were down 4-1 in the 2nd set.

    We had to change tactics : when we were serving, we did not stand at net, but on service line, so we could smash the lobs instead of chasing them all over the court, so both of us standing at service line right after one of us served.

    and on their serves we had start standing well in front of the baseline to blast our service returns point blank right at them, hit their serves on the up right by the service line before they skidded super low at baseline.

    we won the next 5 games to win 6-4 but if we did not change to counter the pusher tactics, we would have lost the set.

    so yes i think pushing with net play is very viable doubles tactics, I think it would actually work extremely well in ladies club tennis, because they do not have the weapons to counter it (heavy spin fast shots and powerful overhead smashes)
     
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  21. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    ^^^^^Tennisguy,, if you guys are so FAST, then why didn't you get to the Lobs quick enough so that you can smash a Huge over-head after the ball bounces ?????? If you guys are 5.0, you can hit a close to 100mph over-head and take the Head off the net guy coming in.......
     
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  22. tennisguy2009

    tennisguy2009 New User

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    Fed, these were the most consistent lobs I have ever seen in my life

    I am not exaggerating when i say every single one was inches from the baseline and in the corners. I guess thats what you get with 40 years of lob practice.

    They were also playing inside of the baseline, just waiting to chip the lob up and get to net, cutting down our reaction time a lot.

    anyways when we were standing at service line (or just in front) they were toast.
     
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  23. tennisguy2009

    tennisguy2009 New User

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    oh yah I did smash many overheads after the ball bounced from the back of court.

    unfortunately my partner was not particularly good at this, a lot of unforced errors from his deep court smashes. My partner was more of a singles player like me, his strength was baseline rallies.

    also the 2 other guys had good hands at net, they did not shy away from the deep court smashes, they tried to volley them back, no chickening out, and got quite a few back. Respect to them.
     
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  24. GuyClinch

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    Yeah I dunno if I would count net rushers as pushers..
     
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  25. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

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    From what Ive seen at the 4.0-4.5 level pushers do not fair well in doubles. my friend is a pusher and we both mostly play doubles, when he gets on the run in doubles he always just slices it back like he would in singles and it makes for easy put away volleys for the net player. When I play against him I consistently poach his returns of serve cause I know he'll just block the serve back, setting me up to put it away. It works very well. I think this should be the general strategy employed in doubles against pushers, be aggressive and take it to the pusher.

    Kinda frustrating playing doubles with him for this reason at times, but he is starting to learn he must adjust his style for doubles and force himself to be more aggressive. When he is more aggressive he plays better doubles.
     
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  26. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    First off, you always describe yourself as a 4.0, but you can compete in 5.0 doubles?

    Doesn't sound like you're describing a pusher to me....a pusher is not a highly skilled player with all the attriibutes you mention. A pusher is someone who relies on consistency but doesn't have the skill to hit the shots you describe.
     
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  27. BullDogTennis

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    i don't think it is...because with a pusher (unless of course he was lobbing it really high) the net man would have easy (slow balls) to get to and set up for and put away at net.
     
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  28. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I thought a pusher was someone who had poor technique and didn't drive the ball, choosing to push it instead.

    That is not the same as a counterpuncher or defensive player.

    I played a lady who pushed yesterday. When I hit a slice serve to her, she could not return it. It flew off of her racket in all sorts of weird directions as she tried to steer/bunt/push it back. Even if she managed to get a ball back into play, it was an easy pick-off for the net player.
     
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  29. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    A pusher is someone who is best known for their shot tolerance. No matter how good a shot you hit to them, they are able to return the ball with a neutral shot. They don't have amazing ball control as LeeD describes, otherwise they would use it!

    In singles this is fine because their opponents are typically not skilled enough to take advantage of their non-pressuring shots. In doubles though if you don't hit better quality shots, you will be poached and punished. Simple as that. Anyone playing above senior 3.5s in doubles will get punished. There is no 5.0 pushing in doubles.
     
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  30. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Pusher is like ufo. Everyone has encountered it, but nobody is gonna agree on what it really is.

    Pushers have no control but can return any shot no matter how good. They have no technique but have great "ball location" skill. They are not highly skilled but have amazing consistency. They don't play above 4.0 but they possess the mental fortitude that can inflict agony on any opponent.

    Totally make sense. :shock:
     
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  31. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

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    "Queen of the Botched Sitter" haha I like that Cindy
     
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  32. jserve

    jserve Rookie

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    Well I guess our definitions of pushers differ slightly. In my opinion, pushers are more commonly referred to as counterpunchers at higher levels of play, but they are still the less aggressive consistency players.
     
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  33. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    Tennisguy2009,

    All the tactics you are describing to beat these so called pushers after going down 4-1 in the second set are just common sense to a 5.0 or an advanced player. A 5.0 isn’t going to keep crowding the net for 4 or 5 games if someone is lobbing them effectively. They will make an adjustment in court position when it happens once or twice. A 5.0 (or any advanced player) would never start on top of the net when their partner is serving. They want to be able to move forward to put away volleys and do with authority.

    Also, 5.0 players don’t have any trouble putting away overheads the vast majority of the time. Even if you have great hands, you won’t get back more than 1 out of 10 from any 5.0 overhead. To suggest a 5.0+ player is “not particularly good” at hitting overheads anywhere, including a high bouncing one is ludicrous. Any 5.0+ player would laugh at your descriptions of them. May I humbly suggest you find real 5.0 players and not the kind who just says they are 5.0+.

    Regarding pushing, I agree with the others. Pushing success is entirely dependant on level of play. Pushing is only effective against those who can't take advantage of the opportunities they get to end the point and have the patience to wait for that time. The higher the level, the more likely those pushed back returns will be pummeled consistently. Advanced players got there by being able to take advantage of an opportunity to end the point, NOW with good anticipation, recognition of that opportunity instinctively AND the skills to take advantage of that opportunity. Pushing is generally only viable up to 4.0 with very rare exception.

    Good tennis

    TM
     
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  34. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Your right here, a pusher does not have all the strokes some think they have. They merely meet the ball and push it back - thus the name "pusher".

    Players at the 5.0 level have no problems with overheads keeping in mind that everyone has their days. Even 4.0 players can/should be able to effective hit overheads - its more a matter of consistency. Sure, wind, sun, lights, location can be/are factors most players know what to do even in adverse situations.

    Can a 4.0 player play higher level doubles - maybe. That would generally put them in the "open" category in most tournaments which is pretty good tennis. Very seldom do you see senior players in these events but as with everything there are exceptions.
     
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  35. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks! I wish it were a joke. :)
     
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  36. GuyClinch

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    LeeD has a crazy definition of pusher. If we were playing doubles with Murray and he was slamming winners all over the place.. Well he is a "pusher"..so yeah pushers like that can sure win.

    But dinkers and soft hitters aren't that effective at doubles. The main thing is the net man can smack shots that would be perfectly effective in singles..

    Pete
     
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  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I have a "crazy" definition of pushers because I've talked to 7.0 players and also played at almost that level a few times.
    I mentioned TomBrown. Look him up. Pure 6.0 pusher, maybe 5.5. Never hits winners, unless his opponent gives up on the shot.
    Murray just digging balls back means he's pushing.
    Murray smacking winners left and right means he's aggressively hitting.
    If YOU are a 3.5, then your normal definition of pusher might be true.
    But if you're higher, you still face opponents who choose to push the ball back, via topspin, slice, flat, or whatever, not going for winners or forcing shots, not going for aggressive shots, not going for anything but continuing the point. PUSHER. Afraid to win, and would rather not lose.
     
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  38. tennisguy2009

    tennisguy2009 New User

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    tennisman, true, but i clearly stated both myself and my partner are singles players

    I really don't know what is going on in doubles, I play doubles 4 times per year maybe..... and going down 4-1 isnt that hard, lose 2 service games, have them hold 2 of theirs, happens quick.

    so perhaps we are not the best doubles players to compare to, but i think pushing at doubles is very doable especially at weaker levels and ladies doubles, so my opinion is unchanged
     
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  39. tennisguy2009

    tennisguy2009 New User

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    also you guys MUST see this every time you go to a club and watch tennis:

    all 4 doubles players are like half way in the service blocks having a volley "practice session" where the point goes on for 6 volleys - except they are all 4 trying to win the point.

    and in your head you are screaming my god why doesn't one of them just put it away, but none of them has any pace on any shot including volleys

    its bizarre
     
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  40. Ripper014

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    I think the problem here is the definition of a pusher... IMHO it is not about a persons ability, it is more about their tactics. Pushers do not try to win points outright (well not often), they prefer to play high percentage tennis and have you make the mistake.

    In my definition... pushers may be very skill at all facets of the game... they may or may not decide to use these skills at different times in a match... but their main strategy is to wait for you to make an error. A pushers strategy is to play high percentage defensive tennis to win.

    A counterpuncher on the other hand will try to neutralize the tactical situation until the opponent makes a mistake. At that point the counterpuncher will go to the offensive and close out the point. In other words counterpunchers use defense to setup their offensive game.


    Players that push/steer/bunt balls back in play are just players with poor stroke mechanics doing the best they can, don't confuse them for real pushers. Pushers win a lot... and have a closet full of trophies... but they seldom are able to get out of 4.0, as mentioned... players at that level and up are more consistant at putting away winners.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
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  41. papa

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    Interesting observation.

    However, you can't put away a ball that kept low. First ball that gets up will be put away.

    Doubles is a different game in many respects but seldom would you/should you see all four players in the position you mentioned - maybe inside the service line but not all four that close to the net. The threat of the lob keeps them/should keep them backed up a little anyway.
     
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  42. GuyClinch

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    Yeah I get it.. But these Federer's that are holding back don't exist..
     
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  43. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I get the feeling that we're onto different discussions in this thread and it's maybe worth pointing out the difference between a singles pusher vs. the tactic of pushing to gain the advantage on a doubles court. In my mind, one of the smartest ways to deal with a pusher in a singles match is to rush the net or try and draw that pushing opponent forward. Obviously a lot of those singles pushers will be in trouble in a half decent doubles setting - the level of play is a factor, but I want to get to the singles vs. doubles aspect of this issue of pushing.

    Sharp doubles players understand the importance of denying their opponents an advantage. Keeping a lot of shots at waist level or below is one of the surest ways to prevent an aggressive reply in doubles as you try to gain the upper hand during play. This can often be accomplished by pushing a low, slow ball back over the net that might force the other guys to shovel the ball up around your shoulder or head height where you can drive it down on them. Some of these "pushed" shots might include a chip or slice - I'll call it more of a push just because it's not a heavier flat or topspin drive.

    Pushing some lower 'n slower balls at your opponents as you work to gain better positioning in doubles can pay off big time, even at a higher level. But if a pair of singles pushers tried to nudge their typical off-pace shots around as a doubles team, they'd probably get hammered. I think of a lot of rally balls from singles pushers as not quite floaters, but let's say "cruisers" that have a lot of net clearance and only moderate pace. For any doubles team that knows enough to take the net, those cruisers are nothing but a free lunch.

    As for general pushing in doubles, I've seen it work painfully well for girl's high school doubles competition. A team will start with both players back at the baseline (serving or receiving) and plainly push against their opponents until they get a short ball and can move forward to net together. This is pretty much 3.5 level of play where the girls don't have enough variety in their game or good transitioning skills to counter this style. The pushing opponents keep them over a barrel, often stuck in the dreaded one up-one back alignment, until they get the chance to attack.
     
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  44. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    It's not bizarre. It can mean that they all are at similar level and there might be no opening to put the shot away. Say, even if you're an advanced player, if a shot is volleyed xcourt extremely closely to the net, can you put it away or simply do the same thing or lob?
     
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  45. dlk

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    "In my mind, one of the smartest ways to deal with a pusher in a singles match is to rush the net or try and draw that pushing opponent forward." By Fuzz Nation

    This is what gives me trouble when I'm playing defensive. Their net play forces me to address w/pass or lob & pressures my positioning.
     
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  46. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    So your concluding that one-up, one-back is not a formation played at the higher levels? Not trying to bait you here but it sounds like that's what your saying.
     
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  47. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yup, pushing can be a viable playing strategy up to a certain level. I remember this one guy that was thee master pusher and that guy could handle hard hits and push it on a dime. For many players, he was very frustrating to play against. However, as he moved up the ratings, his pushing strategy became a liability for the team rather than a benefit.
     
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  48. mucat

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    If the definition of pushing means push the ball. The net partner will get kill multiple times over and over again.
     
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  49. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Not true. A pusher has the ability to place a ball at your feet, off to an angle, or bump it over an opponents head. Whatever they try to do it does not automatically put the netman in a vulnerable position. We are talking about pushing the ball not giving up powerduff balls which makes it obvious.
     
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  50. GuyClinch

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    Yeah but "pushers" that can do all that can crack the crap out of the ball - and usually do. It sounds like your describing a local teaching pro hitting with his classmates and holding back..

    I haven't seen many of these people in regular match play..
     
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