Originally Posted by goober
Unless you want to stay at 3.0-3.5 forever, your instructor is spot on. The main problem with winning matches with push strokes is that it becomes habit. You start doing it all the time because it works and it becomes in engrained in your muscle memory. You keep winning but eventually you get to a point when you move up to a level where you can't beat anybody because of your strokes. It is very difficult for somebody who has been hitting bad strokes for years to then suddenly change. Many don't and that is why you see people who stay at 3.0-3.5 for decades. That is not necessarily bad, but most serious club tennis players aspire to something higher.
It is much easier to start learning the correct techniquet to begin with even if it means you lose early on.
I agree on the point that if you want to get better you need to improve strokes. But getting better does not necessarily go hand in hand with moving up through the NTRP ranks. Winning does. Pushers will get moved up faster for awhile, because they can win at 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5. So when deciding if you are improving or not do not base it on NTRP rating, or how well you are moving up in respect to others around you. Base it on how you feel, or how well you like how your game looks, or how well you play in practice. If you concentrate on NTRP or USTA wins you will get discouraged. And this is why so many players learn strategy and defense first, and pick up strokes later, the NTRP rewards that.