Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by SuperDuy, Nov 24, 2009.
Always wondered this. Never quite sure what people are talking about when they refer to them.
To me, anyone at any level who is just trying to get the ball back, not hit with winning or forcing shots to WIN THE POINT!
Rather, they choose to NOT LOSE the point, and hopefully, the opponent makes a MISTAKE, so they end up winning the point by basically... default.
There is a huge difference between playing WINNING tennis with shots over winning matches thru attrition of the mind or body.
Someone who hits the ball without the intention of hitting a winner, forcing an error or setting up a point. They win by grinding down their opponent.
It's all fine and dandy until the pusher realizes that they aren't progressing their game at all by playing this style of tennis and the people that they're currently beating, will eventually be able to easily beat them.
I have played many of those in ping pong, its like you hit anything and they get it all. I hate players like that, they just keep the ball in play.
There's a lot of animosity towards pushers in the tennis world because of that reason.
HaroldSolomon and EddyDibbs were total pushers, both friends of mine.
AndyMurray is total pusher when receiving serve.
Nadal pure pusher! But the best pusher.
FernandoGonzalez with the big forehaned is a pusher.
All great players!
It is a derogatory term used to define players that the user of the term feels they are "better" than, yet lose to.
it depends at which level. at the 3.5 level, it would probably be someone who just lobs, moonballs, dinks, slices, basically just gets the ball back in play no matter what. they don't have good form or follow through. their topspin backhand and forehand is non existent and they choose to either lob, tap the ball back with a really open racket face, or slice the ball. they can get to everything and the only reason they are at the level they are at is because of their fitness and agility, and it really annoys the hell out of people who can't beat them.
now when we look at the pro level, everyone has sound strokes and great form. the pushers are the ones who can't hit winners, and must rely on their opponents errors to win. now some refer to nadal and murray as pushers because they usually have low unforced errors or winners compared to the other player, which means all they do is get the ball back into play and let their opponent dictate the play, giving most of the errors and winners to their opponents. they seldom hit winners unless needed to like a passing shot or a nice lob, or off a really easy sitter which can be killed easily
FWIW - (and with all due respect to Brad Gilbert and some other commenators) pusher is not really a useful term in describing pros..
Here is why ...
Every SINGLE pro - Federer, Del Porto, Verdasco - any of the "big hitters" will play defensive tennis (hit a good "rally ball" back) if they receive a good forcing shot.
This is why Federer has been in some very long rally's. For example his famous rally with Hewitt. Hewitt was simply NOT giving him any balls he could 'do anything' with.
That's a 45 shot rally. The thing is neither Federer or Hewitt felt comfortable 'going for' much of those very solid early rally balls to start the point.
The vast majority of pro tennis rallys work like that. So to call one guy a 'pusher' while the other guy is not given that term is a bit foolish.
The major difference is that SOME players 'shot tolerance' is different. Some pro players have little patience and seek to go on offense earlier then others. But such distinctions are arbitrary can can change from match to match or even point to point.
If you call Nadal a "pusher" then every single pro on the tour is a pusher. Because every single pro plays defensive tennis and then switches to offense when they get a ball they think they can do something with. Yes Murray Nadal you name it. You will see plenty of winners hit by these guys when they are given the right ball.
So if Nadal is a pusher so is Federer etc etc. Thus the term loses all real meaning.
Of course, every pro player chooses to PUSH at times, to stay in the point.
The difference is that aggressive hitters choose to START the point with a forcing shot or winner, while the pushers choose to start the point by probing for weaknesses.
I like to end all points within 3-6 shots. Doesn't mean I don't play 20 shot rallys! Circumstances dictate action, and if you can't figure that out, you don't play tennis.
I've played entire MATCHES just pushing the ball around with conti grips. Pure pushing, YES!
But by choice, I'd hit to end the point within 3 shots any day.
So am I a pusher?
Of course, YES at times, but mostly, more art form aggressive hitter.
This world, and this subject, is not black or white, rather, it's shades of gray and in between. Believe it.
to me, a pusher is a player whose strategy is to return all the shots and wait for his opponent to make the unforced errors.
if his opponent doesn't make many unforced errors then the pusher will have a problem.
Yes, plan Z when all else fails, get the ball back by any means necessary. You are hanging on to a razor's edge, best not slip.
This is the best one i've seen.
Might i refer you to the first thread, second or third post, on this page..
Basically someone who just taps the ball over just trying to get it in. Some people call pro's who play a defensive game just hitting the ball in as their game plan pushers too.
Well we can agree to disagree. All pros play the same style - they hit wait for weaker shots (while try to hit good solid rally balls) and then try to hit winners off of them. The fact that some pros wait for weaker shots then others - and some wait longer then others (and this varies from point to point and matchup to matchup) doesn't really make one set of pros "pushers."
Gilbert should be ashamed of himself for pushing such a ridiculous designation. Whereas a pro players switches effortlessly from defense to offense. The rec hack only plays defense against players who have no offensive game! Its not really the same style - not mentally and of course not physically..
I have been thinking this over... and I have friends that I have always considered pushers... but I am beginning to rethink this. The reason..? Well most of us when serving will use it as a first strike weapon... and in doing so we will press the issue until it is no longer in our favour at which point we may have to play some defensive tennis until we can again take advantage of a mistake.
My pusher friends play pretty much the same... though their serves are not outright weapons... they will still press the attack when an opportunity exists.
My new definition of a pusher is going to be a person that passes up an obvious opportunity to go to the offensive and just puts the ball back in play.
Players like Murray and the like are more counterpunchers than pushers... and that would include Harold Solomon and Eddie Dibbs as well... when given the opportunity they will attack if the percentages are in their favour. A pusher I believe will pass that opportunity up... because their game is to wear you down mentally and physically. Given my new definition... there are no pushers in the pro game.
This is a good definition. Thanks to Kaptain Karl
Note the red/bolded/italicized. Some people need to seriously read this thread and get their facts straight: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=58284
DO NO CONFUSE PUSHER WITH OTHER TYPES OF PLAYERS THAT RELY ON CONSISTENCY. Pushers rely on 2 things. First is of course their ability to just get the ball back into play. Second, and more importantly I feel, is that they take advantage of their opponents lack of solid fundamentals. Their opponents miss these easy shots because they they don't have the high enough game to hit forcing shots (winners, aggressive approaches, ect). The key here is that the pusher lets their opponents miss.
They don't exist beyond the 4.0 level because at the higher levels, players are good enough to capitalize on weak shots. They have the footwork to get to a short floating ball quickly to set up properly and the strokes to execute an agressive putaway or approach.
A classic example of a pusher winning a point is by hit a high shot that lands in the middle of the court and his opponent hitting it out or into the net because they're fundaments in stroke mechanics and footwork are still flawed. That or they hit an approach and get lobbed repeatedly, making them miss overheads or have to run back to get them. How often do you see pro's miss slow balls that land short? How often do you see pros miss overheads? Rarely ever. Pro's and high level players have no problem being able to be aggressive with short floating shots.
I'm sick of people saying Murray and Nadal are pushers. THEY ARE NOT PUSHERS FOR PETE'S SAKE. Just because they are quick and and consistent doesn't make them pushers. They don't just "let" they're opponents miss, they force it. Forcing your opponent to miss doesn't always come with power and aggression.
I would say Nadal mostly a "machine baseliner." He hits with alot of spin and moves his opponents around the court to tire them out. The large amount of spin he puts on the balls pins them behind the baseline and he can break down their strokes by repeatedly hitting to one wing causing them to miss. He hits fairly aggressive shots but they are consistent because of the spin he gets on them.
Murray is rather difficult to classify because he hits with alot of variety. Nowadays, hee is mostly a retriever baseliner and soft baller. He can also play as a counter puncher, hitting high percentage shots, waiting for an attackable shot, and hitting agressively. When he's on fire, Murray can be very agressive. Alot of people say he is a pusher because he doesn't hit with alot of pace and plays a high percentage game but what he also does is plays with alot of variety. His shots aren't always the same. He varies the placement, spin, and power on his shots to destroy other players rhythms causing them to mess up. He forces his opponents errors in a very subtle way.
Both players are good at retrieving shots and hit high percentage shots, but they still force errors on their opponents in their own ways. Both also like to hit winners, something pushers rarely do.
Good reasoning. That should be added to KK's definition. Pushers don't capitalize on weak shots. Pushers are lower end players who don't have the strokes to hit aggressively. In fact, most pushers have rather ugly/flawed mechanics and block, chip, poke the ball back and because they're stroke (if that's what you want to call it) is so simple, they can do it repeatly without missing.
While I agree 100% with what you have said about pushers being ugly, dinky low level club players, I also wonder if KK's definitiion should be taken as the one and only definition.
There are two types of pushers. Those that play tennis regularly without any real skill yet succeed in hitting almost every ball back and into an uncomfortable place for his opponent to deal with. Then there are the pushers that deal drugs to school children. One should just be shot on spot and the other put in prison for life to satisfy the man-desires of the other inmates. You guys choose which pusher gets which fate!
Can't we do both. :twisted:
Shot on the spot, then sent to prison to satisfy the inmates.
KK's is the correct definition IMHO. However people like Gilbert and others have started to substitute the word pusher for counterpuncher - because its both more "exciting" and more "understandable" by fans. Its also a terrible use of the word.
You guys who play below 4.0 think pushers exist only there.
Pushers exist up to and including 7.0.
Gilbert knows more than you and me. He was the epitome of the 7.0 pusher! One of the best, can vary the shots for sure, can hit winners for sure. But winners to him is like a normal groundie to YOU. No effort.
Instead, he liked to toy with his opponents, rather than put them away.
MiraslovMecir right there in skill, temperament and outlook.
But both 7.0 pushers.
Playing someone they can knock off the court, they would choose instead to punish that person with well placed shots just to watch them run until they fall down. No killer instinct, but rather like cat and mouse.
They choose to punish rather than kill.
A pusher is basically someone who is extremely good at tennis and wins all the time.
A good pusher doesn't WIN at tennis! NOPE, they let their opponents LOSE.
What you are describing is NOT a pusher. Pusher don't place the ball anywhere. They just get it back into the court. A pusher isn't someone who runs people around on the court.
KK's definitions aren't the alpha and omega but they do provide a very good description. And also remember that players can be a blend of different style.
Pushers aren't very good players in the sense they can't be very high ranked and they don't typically have the best mechanics. However, they are still better than the players they can beat.
I'll agree with this part
IMHO there are no Professional Pushers... I have never seen a Professional Player pass up an opportunity to win a point when given the opportunity... not even Brad Gilbert. He would give his opponent every opportunity to choke... but given the chance to win a point he would take it.
These players like the title suggests are PROFESSIONALS they are not going to give their opponent the upper hand by letting them dictate play. If you are going to push the ball back... eventually you are going to make a mistake and the PROFESSIONAL will make you pay. When you play tennis the game is always in transition... you are either in a neutral position were you are sparring for position... once you get a little angle or a short ball, you transition to offense your opponent to defense. Any time a professional player transitions to offense he/she is going to win the majority of the points. Even Murray... is a counterpuncher... he is hitting balls looking for the opportunity to win the point, he does not just hit the ball back waiting for you to miss (the pros are too good for that).
At the pro level I don't believe you can push and wait your opponent out, you are trying to maintain a neutral situation... but eventually you will make a mistake... and at that point the percentages switch to the offensive player.
I do however believe there are some very good pushers out there... that can compete at some high levels... They can have good strokes... and they do have the ability to hit the ball where they want. Being a pusher is a state of mind... not the ability of the player.
In another thread I made a statement I stand by... as your level of skill increases your offensive skills become effective than your defensive skills. What I am saying is... players at 3.0 are better defensively than offensively (less putaways and more balls being returned). The higher the level... the better the players are better at ending the point.
So in my humble opinion... being a pusher is a state of mind... not a skill set.
Right, it's a state of mind!
If it was skill set, then you'd not have 7.0 pushers.
In reality, VERY 7.0 pushes at times, but what separates them from pure pushers is their FIRST shots. The little topspinners probe and test, while the hard hitters just go for a forcing shot first ball.
To Fed, Ferrer is a pusher. Ferrer is top 10 in most anyone's book.
Saying guys like Nadal and Murray are pushers is nuts. They obviously are great defensive players, but you don't beat guys like Federer, Roddick, Del Potro and others by simply getting the ball back in play.
Having great defense does not make you a pusher.
A pusher is someone who has poor mechanics, little pace and/or spin, and bad strategy and knowledge of court geometry. They simply chase down balls and tap them over, hoping their opponent will miss.
You can do this with good mechanics with spin, pace, good strategy and with a good sense of court geometry. In fact these players benefit best knowing court geometry.
Yeah, but my point is, once you can do that you're no longer a pusher.
Someone who can chase down tough balls, hit them with good pace and spin, and has good strategy and court geometry isn't a pusher, they're a damn good player. That style of tennis is just as impressive and requires just as much talent as being an offensive baseliner.
Yeah, the same thing was occurring to me. Example: Should someone like Chris Evert go down in history as a pro pusher?
The thing with a more typical amateur pusher is that they're okay players, but they don't give opponents anything much to take advantage of. To win points in those matches, you need to survive the psych test of having to hit twice as many balls or maybe crash the net a whole lot more often.
With the pros, I have a lot more respect for guys like Nadal and Ferrer with their sick retrieving skills that can keep them in points until they can get the advantage. While they don't serve up marshmallows like a 3.5 pusher might, they effectively shrink the margins that their opponents can use to hit winners through. Rafa's defense forces guys like Roger to hit three or four of his best shots in a row to win a point instead of only one or two. That's discouraging in a different way than having to deal with the constant helping of soft stuff from the 3.5's I think.
Once again, you guys are showing your poor tennis skills.
You relate everything (in this case, pushers) to players of YOUR level.
Pushing is getting the ball back any way, not taking intiative, not trying to hit winners, not playing offensive tennis. Whether YOU can or not is not the point.
The opposite of pushing is the Safin style, always going for broke (unless bored or disinterested), always going for first strike, first forcing ball, hitting WINNERS tennis.
Ferrer and Nadal serve up plenty of puffballs, not to us, but to Fed and Safin. The question is, can Fed/Safin take advantage of those puff balls?
here are the world-class pushers
What's this got to do with our skills?
I think your confusing pushing with rally shots.
Yes a push is getting the ball back in any way but it's not the same as not taking the initiative/offensive/hitting a winner. Pros don't go on the offensive all the time because they'd lose. Even Safin (or Gonzales, a very offensive) don't try to hit winners on every shot. They hit several neutral shots before going for the offensive. These neutral shots can of course be taken advantage on but they are no means puffballs even amongst pros; they are not weak easy shots. Rallying shots have placement, pace, and or pace on them; pushes have nothing.
A playing style is determined by how the player plays consistently. A pushing is a playing style which puffballs are used consistently. Sure if you want to call rally shots "pushes" (on relative terms), then lots of pros "push". But the problem with saying that (other than the fact these "pushes" are not true pushes) is that no pro hits them consistently, over and over again hence it is not a playing style amongst pros. Pros will capitalize on weak shots. Plus hitting so called weak shot after weak shot then capitalizing on an opponents weak shot is called counter punching. But even then, these "weak" shots are not weak (maybe at the lower levels but at higher levels, these shots tend to be high percentage shots that can't be easily taken advantage of).
I suppose you could call a retriever a type of player who pushes the ball back when chasing after winners but the regular shots that player hits will not be pushes.
Beautiful to watch, the two best in the day, one rightie, one goof. Vilas was my hero, until I spent some time hitting 1HBH's like he did. I could do it really well, my arm gave out within 40 strokes. I HAD to hit 10 to win a point.
So Korda became my next idol. Simplyer strokes, much more winners, basic KISS tennis. He lasted what? 4 years?
And Agassi/Connors, even thos they had no serve and loved to hit groundies, were NOT pushers, as they always tried to WIN the point by moving you till you dropped, starting with the FIRST shot.
Shots alone don't make a pusher or hitter.
It's the philosophy of the mental game of the player that determines pusher or hitter. EVERYONE pushes at times, but when choice given, the pusher still pushes with topspin or slice, while the hitter tries to force the action.
At 4.5 levels and above, hard topspin could be all a pusher could hit. Still a pusher!
We are not what we are because of our physical state, we are what we are due to our MENTAL mind.
..and an impala runs fast, can eat tough shrubbery, can jump high, but it's still a DEFENSIVE animal.
A lion can run fast, can eat some tough veggies, can even jump some, but it's an OFFENSIVE animal.
The impala would be the pusher!
You're bloody kidding me right? REALLY NOW?!
You don't even need to do a bloody search on this, because IT'S STICKIED ON THE TOP OF THE BLOODY FORUM PAGE!
Kaptain Karl never got beat by HaroldSolomon, MirislavMecir, BradGilbert, or Barrasetchi.
BELIEVE it. When you are 7.0 level, you will find MANY pushers at that level.
IMHO this does not give the pusher the credit they deserve... I still deem that it is a state of mind (strategy), and that some pushers do have flowing strokes... my personal opinion is that their game plan is not to beat themselves... like in the movie ANTZ it was "be the ball" I am sure they say to themselves... "BE A WALL"...
I still believe they can make shots... relatively deep into corners... making high precentage shots that do not put them at risk. So in that way they do have a skilled game... I do not believe they just aim for the T and do nothing.
But maybe we can get a recovering pusher to chime in and and get his thoughts on this.
It's not all about mentalities. Playing styles are determined by both mentality and shot selection. A push is a type of shot: slow, not alot of spin or pace, typically not deep or near the lines. A pusher is a playing style with a definsive mindset (mentality) and consistently employs weak shots (shot selection)
Every pro/high level player will force action against all weak shots hence there are no pushers because no pro consistently tries hits weak shots.
But its not all about offense vs. defense because you are forgetting about neutral.You are calling any shot not hit offensively a push. Totally not true. Topspin and slice shots are not weak, they are neutral. They are used as rallying shots to set up the point.
Again you are dividing everything into offensive or defensive. Plus you cannot compare tennis to animals because tennis is so much more complex.
Lest I say it again... these are not pushers...
These are different animals... one eats plants and one eats red meat... so yes one of these two animals would be in danger of being eaten... and he would be the one on the defensive... while the other being the aggressor and likes to eat red meat would be the one on the offensive... but what is your point?
SURE THEY ARE !
TO you, and against you, they are not pushers.
Harold and EddyDibbs TOLD me they were pushers! TO MY FACE, while other's were listening in. PUSHERS!
And I already considered them as pushers, even thos they would not push when they played ME, but run me off the court double zips.
Pardon the interruption, but why don't you put a space between a person's first and last name?
I will agree with you that pushers do employ a "be a wall mentality" and plan on not beating themselves. However, other playing styles employ this mentality as well such. The other part of the equation is what shots they use. Soft ballers, machine baseliners, and pushers (to name a few) all adopt that mentality but where they differ is the shots they hit to achieve it. A soft baller will get alot of balls back but will redirect them with placement. A machine would get alot of balls back but with spin and pace (but still do so consistently). A pusher would just get the ball back with little spin, pace, or placement.
BTW, ANTZ is such an old movie ahah. You're the first person I've seen actually mention it.
Separate names with a comma.