"Pusher" ... Playing This (Dreaded) Opponent

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by joe28601, Oct 19, 2005.

  1. Serve em Up

    Serve em Up Rookie

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    I'll pass this on because I've never seen such a display of pure unadulterated pushing.

    My daughter's HS tennis team played a match last week. Their #2 singles player was a pusher. She hit high loopy balls that landed mid court about a foot behind the service line just about every time. The balls had enough height to them that our # 2 singles player (who is a very good player BTW) had to take them right at the baseline or sligghtly behind.

    The pusher had a very strong and hard serve. Her weakness was her backhand. She would push pretty consistently but her FH was good enough that if she got a short easy ball she had the skill to put it away. She lacked this ability from the BH side. She was exceptionally good at overheads and volleys. She didn't come in often but when she did she usually hit a good shot.

    I watched painfully as these players sustained rallies of 15 balls or more. In the end, our player won. She was incredible and we were so proud of her.She was so patient. Consistently hitting ball after ball working the pusher left to right just waiting for her to push one back short. Then she would pounce and hit a solid inside out FH wide to the pushers BH.

    In the end it was succesful. Our player had severe cramps in her legs following the match. She said it was the hardest match she ever played and I know that she has played some very good players.

    The match took 3 1/2 hours to play. a full 45 minutes after the last of the other matches were completed.


    My daughter who is not nearly as skilled watched the second half of the match and as we watched criticized our #2 for not winning decisively against the pusher. I immediately corrected her and told her that I didn't think there was anyone else on the team (including the #1) that I thought could beate this girl. The pusher chased down every ball and pushed it back no matter what. She hardly ever missed.

    Later in the week, I challenged my daughter to a short match and told her I was going to play the pusher. I pushed and my daughter learned a valuable lesson. She must have hit an unforced error within the first 5 balls of each point. I told her that consistency and patience was important. She had to learn when to pounce on the right ball. She is learning.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2007
  2. Trekkie

    Trekkie Guest

    When I played my first Pusher, I actually felt challenged.

    She said she wanted to learn to play my style but I told her to stick with what she does best. I told her to continue her style and that I wanted to learn how to play against her.

    She took my advice and we went three sets. :( I won. So now I kinda know how to beat a Pusher. Phew!
     
  3. Venetian

    Venetian Professional

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    Definition of Pusher

    I have just come up with the definition of a pusher based on what I see in threads here on TW. You decide whether or not to take it seriously. I think it fits the description of many posters' encounters with this type of opponent quite accurately.

    Pusher: Any player of perceived lesser ability that another player loses to.
     
  4. Venetian

    Venetian Professional

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    I now see that some people have already attempted to define this style in much the same way I did on the stickied pusher thread. Ohwell, I think my definition is nice.
     
  5. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    pushers are cool. I have lost to pushers before but I respect their ability.
     
  6. Venetian

    Venetian Professional

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    Me too. That's why I hate to see this style (if it even is a style) get beat on so much. But people will always find a reason to dislike players who consistently beat them. That's why I think the word "pusher" is just a broad term to describe anyone who beats another player that thinks of him or herself as superior. Like so many others have said before, you don't get points for style.
     
  7. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    People who have lost to pushers, myself included, lost because they made more errors than winners. They beat themselves, the pushers just put the ball back in play. They should be upset at themselves instead of the pushers but many here in this forum would blame the pushers.
     
  8. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    The offered definition is too general. There are many reasons a person could be perceived to be of lesser ability.

    I would define "pusher" as being a player whose running skills and mental discipline are vastly superior to his racket technique.
     
  9. galatti

    galatti Rookie

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    Just lost to pusher yesterday. I though that I had mastered how to beat them, but this one is the pusher more pusher I have seem. He did not risk one shot, ZERO winners, but ZERO unforced erros as well. Man, I'm annoyed :(
     
  10. sonicdeviant

    sonicdeviant New User

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    One problem...a 4.5 or 5.0 player will not be hitting overheads at the baseline against a pusher. First, most anything that's at overhead height at the baseline is going out, unless it's dropping almost vertically.

    If a pusher can lob like that consistently against a 4.5 player, he's going to win every time. More likely, a 4.5/5.0 player will be cramming overheads down the weasel pusher's throat inside the service box, because the setup shots preceding the weak lob will be far more than the pusher can handle. ;)
     
  11. sonicdeviant

    sonicdeviant New User

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    You're right, and here's what's happening. The player (with actual stroking skills) becomes annoyed--annoyed at the pusher for not playing the way the player wants them to play.

    Everyone here has listed many great strategies to play against pushers, and there it is...a thorough strategy is required. Suddenly, working a point the way you normally would against a ball striker doesn't work anymore. The pusher is telling you something...he's telling you, "you hate my guts because I'm a pusher and I know it. I'm going to make your life hell." :-D

    So start by realizing that you're not going to win playing your usual way; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result...you're going to have to put on your thinking cap and see where your particular pusher sucks, which fortunately (and usually) is in a lot of places. Here's where they're usually good: running, anticipating, lobs, moonballs, and sometimes slicey-dicey dink crap. They usually aren't good at groundstrokes, volleys, or serves. So, a good basic strategy to start with is to take advantage of their serve--don't go for a lot and try to power it to the other corner, because they've already thought that out ahead of you and are on their way there, so hit back to them or behind them a bunch and lull them into that trap...give them a different, false pattern before you start hitting away from them. There a lot of things you can do if you can stay calm, top or put air under your shots a little more, and think! The pusher is not going to out-power or out-spin you; they're just going to keep the ball coming back until you blow it.

    Hey, I've played them too. And lost. But I've beat them before, and I've been mentally and physically exhausted afterward in either case...because I had to hit many more shots than I normally do.

    The worst part is a cocky pusher. They're all up in your face after they beat you, even though you (and they) know they have about 1/10th of your tennis ability. But it's true...once you have enough ability, you'll start beating these twerps more and more.

    And remember, a true pusher will never climb very high up the tennis ladder, unless they shed the garbage and learn some tennis. They'll be relegated to 3.0-3.5 (sometimes 4.0 but not usually) champion status. :p
     
  12. GoochMoney

    GoochMoney Rookie

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    the league that i play in has over 70 members and the low 20's (ranking) is a mix of pushers and junk ballers that would have federer breaking racquets and swearing...i have played around in the high teens this season and have had to play several of my best matches to beat these guys.

    i almost lost my mind during the last match when this guy wielding a racquet that resembled a boat oar just kept popping my groundies back into my side of the court. had him running side to side during a rally and he switched hands to dink a winner just over the net on a crazy angle with his left hand. i lost my mind...but i won the match!!
     
  13. sonicdeviant

    sonicdeviant New User

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    Let me guess...a Weed racket or something. I hate that crap. Why play if you're going to just hold out a screen door and block the ball back? :confused: If you want to be a wall, brick yourself into one. :grin:
     
  14. GoochMoney

    GoochMoney Rookie

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    Hey Sonic D -

    Hope you had a laugh about this. I think he was using some type of Head racquet...it looked like an very large racquetball racquet. The problem is that this guy wins a lot of matches...that is why they continue to show up and backboard people to death. They know they can win and they love all your fancy, long, fast swings -- especially when they break down and fire a one of their lobs into the net. These guys have played in this ladder for over 15 years and probably have never left their low 20's ranking.

    -GM
     
  15. sonicdeviant

    sonicdeviant New User

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    Yep, I know these guys well (they're everywhere). To me, any player that "walls" you to death (can be a pusher, dinker, retriever, moonballer, or what-have-you) is in the same category--they're not going to hit winners; they want you to try to keep hitting winners or hitting away from them until you blow it. They know that you will eventually get frustrated and go for something you shouldn't.

    A big key is to accept what some on this thread have said--tennis is a game, and as long as your opponents are following the rules, you must accept their way of playing as legitimate, even as pathetic, stupid, and boring as it may be to you. :mad: I'd prefer an opponent who outright beats me every time, instead of an opponent who coaxes me into beating myself by frustrating me to death. :smile: You can either play them, or just choose not to...but I think there is some truth to what was said earlier: it's a right of passage to go beyond the crap player; you've arrived at a new level when you can consistently dismiss them and make them accept what they really are--lowly hackers, incapable of doing what you do.

    So our challenge as players (who value actual stroking technique and tennis skills that are capable of growing beyond a 4.0 level) is to find a way to beat these bums, so that they wipe that disgusting gloat off their faces at the end of a winning match (where they've "walled" you to death). It's interesting, because you and the pusher both know that you're a better "tennis player," but they understand your own psychology better than you understand yours or theirs. That's a major difference that has far more impact than who has the proper tennis technique.
     
  16. ewcrider

    ewcrider New User

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    I had to play a pusher at tryouts. I was so nervous because i knew that consistancy was not my strength (it has improved a lot since then :) ). I couldnt even stand to look at this guy. he had brand new barricade IV's, long tennis socks, brand new K-Factor, wristband, headband, and even a bicep band! That was the longest match i've played in quite some time. Thankfully, I won the match.
     
  17. GoochMoney

    GoochMoney Rookie

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    i did notice that in order to tire the backboard out i would hit a deep shot to his BH or FH and then follow with a drop slice short to the opposite side...several of these and he was puffing pretty good. repeated over and over and he started having to go for winners and as they say in poker...put'em on tilt -- get it -- the backboard was tilting!!:D
     
  18. Cobaine

    Cobaine Rookie

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    I think the hardest part about playing a pusher is that it gets old, having to deal with junk and moonballs every point. It's hard to stay in it mentally. Sure you can probably out rally the guy, but it takes 30 strokes every time. I have to be in the right state of mind to play a pusher. When I'm not I'd rather not even be on the court. I have to say though, the times I do play smart and patiently, and crush a pusher like the bug he is, there is no sweeter satisfaction. :)
     
  19. I am dealing with one of these choppers right now! I have to play the rest of a rain delayed match this week. It is a dreaded feeling because I can often pressure errors from my opponents for free points and it is not working with sir hacks alot. Wierd spins, slice drives and well placed defensive lobs. Even off of a high kicker to his backhand. Ugh! I think I will read that article twice!
     
  20. Good News

    The pusher is defeated!
    It was a matter of hitting good deep approach shots on the returns and serve and volley. Once I was succesful on the serve and volley, the momentum turned quickly. I could see the confidence run out of em'.
    A nice victory. The article was a great help to get focused.
     
  21. RoddickistheMan

    RoddickistheMan Professional

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    This works to a certain degree, but most pushers just use your pace and bump the ball back deep which is really annoying.
    ________
    Lincoln-Mercury
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  22. SoBad

    SoBad Legend

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    ^^ How's the ball gonna go deep if you're at the net??
     
  23. vndesu

    vndesu Hall of Fame

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    iono

    we have a pusher at our high school in the bay.
    he only made it to var singles 2 bc of pushing but then got bumped to doubles.
    weni play him its usually a 6-0 or 6-1 match.

    for starters if yu want to b funny just copy them.
    the pusher i played agaisnt had an annoying groan so i copied him to get frustrated.
    also making them move alot is a good choice.

    but for me serve and volley.
    6'1 cant go wrong with it haha
     
  24. TheNatural

    TheNatural Legend

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    keep drop shotting him on return of serve, then when he comes in blast it at his head. haha
     
  25. Nuke

    Nuke Hall of Fame

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    If your pusher is a moonballer, don't let the moonballs bounce -- move forward and take them out of the air.
     
  26. j30tennis

    j30tennis Rookie

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    Agreed. i just recently played a real pusher and I usually lose to them because I get over aggresive and hit out too much. This time I decided to change up my style and used a slice back hand on his return of serve and a down the line forhand. I found it worked very well, took soemthing off my shots and hasd him running all over the court. Also was able to run down just about every drop shot he tried. By the end of the match he was throwing his racquet on just about every play. Sadly against a heavy topspin hitter who punishes the baseline I become some what of a pusher, I guess because those type of pleyers are usually better than I am. I am working on correcting this but it is tough to get my foot work back on track, been gone from the game for about 3 years and am steadily improving on a weekly basis.
     
  27. Photoshop

    Photoshop Professional

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    Liar. You wouldn't have started this thread if you regularly beat pushers 6-1.
     
  28. RedWeb

    RedWeb Semi-Pro

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    Pushers tend to move better from side to side then forward and back. Most don't like being at the net. So if you can draw them in with short slicing shots then hit the follow up shots hard at their feet while they are retreating back to the baseline you should have some success.

    Against good pushers hitting the ball harder does not usually work because they are good at absorbing that pace and using it against you with angled shots.
     
  29. cncretecwbo

    cncretecwbo Semi-Pro

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    I agree with ^^ definitely try to bring a pusher in and make them hit an uncomfortable approach. Also stepping in and taking the ball on the rise seems to work for me. If you can do this and keep the pressure on without going for too much the pusher should cough up some easier balls eventually.
     
  30. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    You have to have the touch to do it of course, but to actually **** OFF a regular pusher - I have resorted for nothing more than my own morose pleasure to pushing slower than them for about six shots, then hitting very soft chips into the service box to bring them in, then lob, then keep doing it.

    I had a few that I had hitting lots of UE this way by the end of the first set.

    I have found pusher love my pace, and just angle their racket the right way, and let it bouce back over, LOL. I'm sorry, but I 'aint doing all the work KWIM?

    Normally however, I just play medium pace-heavy spin, and wait for a short ball, works almost everytime depending on the guy.
     
  31. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Well, there are different levels of pusher, but I like to use the opportunity of playing a pusher to practice different types of point setup strategy. I will do some serve volley, some one-two plays, whatever I think I need to work on. The only real problem with a pusher is if you aren't yet advanced enough as a player to keep your error count low. A pusher just lets you beat yourself. If you don't do that you will win. Just play smart, have fun, and practice something.
     
  32. rasajadad

    rasajadad Hall of Fame

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    Well, do you want to beat them or make them mad?
     
  33. RoddickAce

    RoddickAce Hall of Fame

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    Drop shot them, then Lob them, make them run around like mad.

    Hit shots with moderate pace so they can't use your pace against you, then once in a while, go for the winner, to remind them that u control the pace of the match. I try to do that, but I get too impatient and blast the ball all the time...don't commit the same mistakes that I do.

    Remember, be patient and make them run left and right, front and back, tire them out. If they're really fit, attack the net on almost every point. But watch out for the lob, pushers love to hit lobs.
     
  34. Jackie T. Stephens

    Jackie T. Stephens Professional

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    If I were you trying to beat a pusher then I will push back because he has no power to push back you get me....
     
  35. sonicdeviant

    sonicdeviant New User

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    Yep, if you have great volleys and a great overhead, there's no way a pusher is going to beat you. If you can also consistently draw them to the net then they'll really have a short day on the court with you.
     
  36. Jackie T. Stephens

    Jackie T. Stephens Professional

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    Yep, which is also true.
     
  37. mista-k

    mista-k Rookie

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    pushers in my experience see a big open court (you have got to think like one to beat one)...if you impose yourself up at the net they tend to try too hard or are uncomfortable hitting towards the center coz your there (applicable to all people) but they are only as good as their option b which is either to lob or chop low...if you had a decent enough approach/serve the ball will pop up like a big beach ball and you can either put it away or make him run like a lil girl...its fun beating pushers coz they are like petty criminals who just got busted...

    my pusher friend (no drugs)-he knows how I hit the ball (topspin) so he chips and uses less energy...
    1.well I modified it and started pounding it harder with spin on forehands and backhands (having the motion of moving forward towards the net) will happen on floaters if not "take risks" on his balls (youll never learn if you dont try)and go for good angles and you got him "in motion" (hard to hit winners in motion usually its just a defensive shot) > which you can take advantage of
    2.chip and charging - he chips but he doesnt charge so I do it for him and put away the ball - turn around and hear him whimper like a girl (he sais "cmon" not like victory point of nadal or hewitt more like peewee herman in pain)
    3.kill his 2nd serve - pushers usually have low speed serves...takes practice but you can position yourself inside the baseline and dictate the first few points before he can start "rally mode"
    4.<picked it up on this thread> on rallies stay further inside the baseline or near the service line---very good tip----you avoid those high bouncing shots and you position yourself for a good volley which is a few steps away...

    ****general rule is dont let him control the tempo...you bring your A game and dont hold back on your shots >>>if you lose hes better

    ---Ive beaten my pusher friend many times...and doesnt call me anymore to play...Id call him but he doesnt sound interested anymore...sob
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2007
  38. pabletion

    pabletion Professional

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    HATE PUSHERS!!! but like some of you've said, its like a rite of passage... its a very looong fight to finally get to beat them, and sometimes you think you've accomplished it and then loose to one again... I think its maybe one of the best ways to train, specially when you're strugglin, cause it helps you get strong in areas that are very basic, like putting away easy shots, working the hell off of points, and PATIENCE!!! You have to go get them, work the point, move them around, get the short ball and end it... but there are sooo many issues; at least for me, sometimes I feel I'm playing great, moving the pusher all over the court, then I get the easy ball up close and choke and dump it... If it happens again, you start to loose confidence... and the match can go to hell. I hate playing with them, but I like it, cause its something a good player needs to overcome to become better. The hardest thing in tennis is learning how to play and win matches, whatever the cirumstance is... and I think playing with pushers allows you to be able to find ways to win, to trust your shots and to never let yourselve become frustrated...
     
  39. pabletion

    pabletion Professional

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    One thing is playing a pusher just for fun, a guy you know or a friend, or playing one in a tourney, or when somethings on the line.... Man am I having trouble with one these days!!!! I know I can beat him badly.... but he's beaten me 4 out of 5 times!!! last three in a row... and I know its all on me, wether I make the shot or miss it... but hey, just need to focus more, be more patient, have confidence... it sucks!! I told him that the year cant end like this but I'm running out of days!! haha, I'll find the way, and get back to you guys with the victorious story, hopefully soon enough....
     
  40. miniRafa386

    miniRafa386 Hall of Fame

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    what i do, if im in a good mood and dont erupt myself :), i try to play the pusher at his own game, and watch him fall apart.
     
  41. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

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    I am an ex-pusher and i still employ pushing as my plan C.

    For the past few months i am playing in a ladder where i happened to play a few pushers.

    If you can consistently hit powerful shots , then pushers are easy to play.

    Tactically there are lot of good advises from other posters. But my advise is .....backup your game. You got more firepower than pusher and use it to your advantage. Be patient in a rally and at the oppurtune moment go for the SHot.
     
  42. herosol

    herosol Professional

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    lawl. pusher for the win. Okay I'm not a pusher, because I don't moonball, and I definitely don't swing with ugly strokes, i just put direction.

    I "lawl" at people's first serves, because i just block it back, they throw me to the right i throw it to their right. As soon as I have someone on the run, i keep throwing it crosscourt the same direction everytime.

    I don't really have many advanced tactics, i just use a basic left right left right left right left left left left right right right left, until i hit the net, he or she hits the net, or somehow some slow moving 40 mph ball becomes a winner.

    I guess it helps that I don't put alot of groundstroke speeds, because my first serve is big, and my second serves don't kick too high for someone to bash, and pretty much forces someone to hit an amazing shot in order for me NOT to touch it.

    I love running. I'm not so good at this tactic yet, since my inside-out shots are kind of undependable, but this sure does work.
     
  43. rec2000

    rec2000 New User

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    Keep the ralleys deep. This forced the grinder to come up with better shots than they are used to. They are accustomed to playing patty cake around the service line with other mediocre players. Force them to hit good groundies!

    Also, come to the net more often. These players often have poor passing shots, so expect them to lob (don't close in too tightly).

    Also, stick to your weapons. If you have a big serve or forehand then use it as often as you can. Many players try to outplay a pusher with pace, but this often works against them if they always use pace. Only use pace on your best shots.

    Keep cool. It's frustrating, and a bit embarassing, to get outplayed by a grinder. Focus on percentages, not on "what if's." In other words, don't let them get to you!
     
  44. rec2000

    rec2000 New User

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    Oh yeah, remember that most pushers win points from your errors. Trying to raise your game and play beyond your skill level is a recipe for disaster. You'll be making unforced errors left and right. Just play your own game as best you can. If you know that you are a better player and stay confident, then you have nothing to worry about.
     
  45. The Watchman

    The Watchman Rookie

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    I think pushers are counterstrikers without the striking ability. This means that if you're any good, you should win against a pusher easily.

    This is because if you're any good, you will know your game and know how you win most of your points. eg:

    * if you're a power baseliner, you will win mostly through winners and forced errors;
    * if you're a net rusher, you'll win by winning volleys;
    * if you're a conterstriker, you'll win by forced errors and winners after moving the pusher around;
    * if you're an all court player, you'll win using the appropriate strategy for that point.

    The pusher ain't gonna do anything to prevent you from playing your game! You can then, as Monk says, consistently hit powerful shots (or whatever voodoo you do so well) and *easily* win.

    If you're not as good, you'll have trouble with a pusher because you haven't got a well developed enough game. And if you think that you *do* have a well developed game, you'll end up in anguish if you haven't given the pusher the respect he/she (I prefer to call them 'it') deserves.

    So, my advice when playing a pusher is to (1) execute your game and win, if you're any good; (2) if you're not, realise who's doing what to whom (ie the pusher exploiting your lack of consistency and/or lack of strategies and ability to win points), thank the pusher for highlighting your own weaknesses to you, and go get some game.
     
  46. Tempest344

    Tempest344 Professional

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    1,221
    Location:
    Sydney
    I find heavy topspin is good against Pushers as usually they have no technique and hit it flat so heavy spin works and is consistent
    so i just move them round the court until i come in for the kill

    usually I'd get murdered as my shots just sit right up
    but I can count on the pusher just to hit it back nice and soft for me
    also be aggressive on their serves
    you don't have to kill it but go for your shots
    I find I'll get into a rhythmn and be attacking their serve very well
     
  47. montx

    montx Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Messages:
    1,123
    For what its worth im a pusher but not so as you guys label it.

    To think pushers are not capable of power play is naive. I got a power serve and power forehand and backhand but i dont think i need to use that 120% in every shot i play.

    Part of my game plan is to vary the pace move my opponent around court and play a whole bunch of safe shots.

    Once he starts acclimitising to the method i might throw in some faster shots.

    Pushing also very often leaves your opponent in a position to play right out winners so you got to play deep moonballs and swing them side to side.

    When they are getting the better of your moonballing thats when you vary the pace.

    In a nutshell, i think pushing is a good plan.
     
  48. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
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    Location:
    The High Country of Colorado
    You're not a pusher.

    - KK
     
  49. HowardH

    HowardH New User

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Messages:
    92
    I feel the pain.
    I played a very athlectic pusher a few months ago. At first I thought. . . "this is going to be too easy. . ." but after he was able to run down everything I sent to him I realized he wasn't human, but a machine. I would work him side to side, hit behind him, up and down, with pace and no matter what I through at him he was always able to change directions and get the ball back. I would say to my self over and over "I don't believe this guy, what do I have to do"? I lost the first set with unforced errors. Thats when I decided to push back, he self destructed. He could dish it out but couldn't take it.

    I lost to another one just the other day though in a tournament. Really hurt for a day or two!
     
  50. HowardH

    HowardH New User

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Messages:
    92

    Please forgive all of "unforced typing errors" in my post above.
     

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