Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Dan007, Aug 24, 2006.
Hey bert, which club do you play at in sydney?
So do you have a vid, so that we really agree on what a pusher looks like ? Maybe he doesn't exist after all...
For me this guy is some kind of pusher, maybe a good pusher, but his technique is very basic (see the serve), he doesn't generate a lot of pace and swings a lot of moonballs.
No clip. But I suggest you read this description to give you a better idea of what a Pusher is.
Kooroora and Tennis Cove (lower north shore clubs), but now play mostly night comps at courts in North Sydney, here:
We really need a video. As mdhubert says, I am not convinced a player like that exists. A real world pusher can have a majority of the limitations outlined in that definition, but not all. I am a little suprised you flatly ruled out the player in that video being a pusher on the basis that he has some directional control.
Everyone seems to agree that a good pusher will be a solid 3.5 player. I can't reconcile this with a definition including "no directional control". There is no way you can win in 3.5 by just bunting every ball aiming just beyond the T. Even a 3.0 can put away these balls at the net. The players I call pushers have good control when the opponent comes to the net. They will play slow slice passing shots just over the net and away from you. Their first choice is a lob landing within 10 feet of baseline, but if you stand a bit back from the net, they make you move diagonally & hit low volleys or half volleys.
The more I read the pusher threads, the more I am convinced that a pusher is nothing other than a percentage player. All these definitions are artificial when they include things like "no pusher beyond 3.5 or 4.0". Are you tellling me that pushers either can't improve(which I find hard to believe) or they have to change their game completely(which is equally hard to believe). More likely, they can and do evolve gradually to higher levels. 90% of them may top out at 3.5, but so do 90% of aggressive players. This part of the definition(the 4.0 cap) was likely coined by 4.5+ percentage players who don't like the term "pusher" being applied to them.
I suggest the definition pusher = "percentage player". It is very short, and it applies to all levels. At 3.0, it means you just get the ball back, mostly aiming for the T. At 3.5, the pusher employs a bit of depth & directional control when the opponent is at the net. At 4.0, they increase the pace a bit and aim for one half of the court rather than dead center; they will push the short balls to some very uncomfortable corner and wait at the net to block away the easy volley. At 7.0, they are Gilbert or Santoro. Both players are hated/feared by many higher ranked players(McEnroe & Safin respectively are examples I know), and that is the single most important attribute of pushers. That is why there are threads like "I hate pushers" or "How to beat a damn pusher". A good definition of pusher must cover all players who elicit that sort of fear and hatred. Any definition that puts a rating cap of 4.0 doesn't work.
I think the reason why pusher sort of ends at 4.0 is because a 4.5 'pusher' can place the ball well enough to hit winners when the opening is there and a pusher doesn't really hit winners but just blocks balls back. 4.5 pushers that I play are either counter-punchers or just very consistent players but they do play angles and make you run. A true defensive pusher just blocks the ball to the center of the court so you may have to run forward but usually that is about it.
My friend was number 1 on his highschool team, really really lanky and weak, and he was a total pusher. he knew how to manipulate the ball into places really really slowly. i played him once and its like playing a wall that can change direction. i personally use spin to get them off balance and return it near the net, because i havent seen very many pushers do good volleys. from there just put it where they arent, going for a win. it does take patience in a lot of cases.
You can't get to 4.5 without "hitting" the ball. People get caught up in the defition without remembering what the definition really is- someone who doesn't hit the ball but pushes it around the court instead.
I sort of agree with you. I believe that it is false to only consider someone with NO depth or directional control a pusher. The fact is, any pusher at the 3.5 level HAS to have both of these things. However, what makes me call someone a pusher is their obvious lack of technique (inability to hit top spin on a backhand, frequent slices or half-swings on the forehand side). Also I have never seen a pusher with decent serve mechanics either. Most pushers I play choose to come up and go for sharp angled shots within the service box that have a low bounce. However if you consistently hit the ball deep to a pusher and keep them back, they will never get a winner off me because they do lack directional control and pace from the baseline, but they will always win the point through consistency unless they feed me a shot that I am able to put away. I think for a pusher to make it to the 4.0 level, they would have to be extremely quick and have extremely good directional control, yet for some reason have horrible technique to keep them in the 'pusher' category.
You are also caught up in the definition(the literal meaning of "push").
What really makes them the object of passionate TT threads is not they have no pace in their shots but their annoying ability to beat you without doing much that is generally regarded as Advanced Tennis.
Gilbert seemed to draw the same reaction from McEnroe that Santoro draws from Safin and the 3.5 pushers draw from some members of TT. There should be some word to cover all these players. I believe Gilbert himself uses the word pusher to describe players like himself. So what makes this TT definition so sacred?
I think what makes someone a pusher is the mechanics of the way they hit the ball. Its frustrating to lower level players because the pusher method of play screws up people's timing and ability to hit with alot of pace because of the weird spins and low bounces. Its also frustrating losing to someone who has a frying pan grip serve and obviously has never developed decent groundstrokes.
Ok, including "bad technique" in the definition makes it work much better. At least it explains why they can't advance beyond 4.0 level. But the definition pointed to KK doesn't mention bad technique, I think.
Pusher is just another name for the guy that beats you. They call(ed) lots of guys pushers in the pros. Santoro? Gilbert? Borg was an advanced pusher.
After Sampras and Federer aren't we all mere pushers?
No one's ever called me a pusher, sorry to say, because I hit way too many balls out at 70 mph on my forehand.
To sum up all this I think a pusher is just a term used to describe a guy that just beat you and whose game has been scanned by you in a very critical way, in the heat of the loss.
His heterodox technique leads to relatively paceless shots but can make you crazy because he delivers spins or gets a consistency of the survivor: he developped his own way of playing and sticked to certain principles he discovered by himself to survive in the jungle of advanced or coached players.
A Santoro is an advanced version of that, except that he developped a very good volley game, and his serve is standard pro level. But his groundies technique and his spins are so unique that he drives talented players like Safin nuts...
The pusher is very difficult to define because it depends on our own technical proficiency and on our ability to accept defeat or not. Both factors are important in the definition of a pusher.
A guy who accepts defeat and is willing to progress won't say "I got beaten by the pusher", but "what did he do to beat me ?" He will focus on the efficiency, not on the form. Pushers are a reflect of our demons, our negative side: "the guy beat me but I'm better than him". I think many of us has been labeled as pushers without knowing it, because we sliced too much or we did a few lobs, but we just used weapons that worked against a particular opponent. But the guy may have focused on these shots that beat him at the end, and the final judgement was "PUSHER".
I still can't figure out if I am a pusher.
I have been called one, I do beat a lot of 3.5 players and I do it mostly by making fewer errors than the other guy.
I don't have horrible technique relative to my level(else I am sure it woud have been pointed out after I posted my video).
I think I play percentage tennis. Most of the guys who I beat think they have better shots than me, but I think I can hit all the shots they hit, with their percentage of success. But I know I can do better if I hit 75% of the shot that "I can" hit, going for less pace and more margin for error.
Where is your vid ?
Oh, no, I don't have the stomach for another round of critical examination
You can find the threads without too much effort. I don't start too many.
To me a pusher is simply any player that prefers (or is limited by ability) to hit a ball with little pace and without top spin. Thats where the term 'push' comes in and thats why they max out at the 3.5-4.0 levels. I have lost to many of them, and I have no problem accepting it. I choose to analyze their game under a microscope to figure out what allows them to beat me. I know exactly why they beat me and what I need to do to beat them. I just lack the ability to execute consistently because I need more practice. The reason they frustrate people is not just because they are better, but because they are unconventional and some people are not taught how to handle their style.
Even though I may lose to pushers, and pretty bad at times, I consider them inferior (in tennis) because they have no desire to improve, otherwise they would try to develop their strokes and learn more conventional tennis. They are more concerned with winning at the lower levels than moving up and becoming a good solid player.
... and you, you improve but you still don't beat them, so what's the point of improving ? I think I missed something. Why do you have to be conventional if you are efficient ? Why should Santoro keep his raquet in his right hand on the follow-through, if this allowed him to play 15+ years at the top level in both singles and doubles ? I think unconventionnal play leads to improvement of the game, so long life to pushers ! By the way I think NNadal has some caracteristics of the pusher: waiting for errors, unconventional technique...
Like I said, I lack the execution because I need to practice more. Because I am dedicated to improving my technique, in the long run I will end up a much higher NTRP rating and much better player than any pusher. Your idea of a pusher is not correct if you are going to use pros in your examples. There are no pro pushers. I am not talking about people "waiting for errors", I am talking about people that are afraid to use top spin because their shots are not as consistent for them as using slice. I'm talking about people that don't follow through on their swings. People who "push" the ball over the net.
Santoro and Gilbert are not Pushers. They are Junkballers, IMO.
And maverick1, you could say my "no placement" comment about Pushers was slightly overstated. How about "nearly no placement?"
The Pusher style has an upper limit, not because of the Pusher himself ... but because his competition is not so easily rattled above 4.0. A 4.5 player sees a Pusher and thinks "Lunch!" while a 4.0 player draws a Pusher and knows he's in for a dreadfully long and frustrating match.
Whether someone can hit a topspin BH or not, is not a very helpful definition of "pusher", IMO. To me the crux of this semantic discussion is: does the guy play high percentage tennis and wait for (or make) his opponent hit it out or in the net, or does he play lower percentage tennis and go looking for winners?
Most of us will do a bit of both over the course of a match but we all run into folks who are at the extremes in either direction.
The reason high percentage tennis (or "pushing") fizzles out at a certain point is that the competition gets good enough where they don't make the expected mistakes, meanwhile they are hitting better and better balls which make even high percentage tennis prone to errors.
The actual word "pusher" is a perjorative term used by those who are the latest victims of high percentage tennis...
Usually a players serve and his strokes are compatible. They'll hit hard both ways, or easy on both. So what you need to do is attack his weak serve. Get way inside the baseline and hit the ball on the rise. You need to dictate the tempo and get him out of that rhythm, if not, he'll doink it over every time. Make him force the issue on his serve, which he probably won't be able to. Dont' give him a "free" serve.
You don't have to knock off a winner, but make him work.
I learned this lesson a long time ago, and it's worked ever since. I've found myself 2-3 feet from the service line. Don't worry about what it looks like either.
I agree that often the term "pusher" is often used to disparage an opponent who just happends to be more consistent than you, but in my book the term "pusher" describes a player who just pushes the ball back. They don't take a full cut at the ball, they just block everything back. Much like a "serve and volley" player may serve and volley on almost every point, or a baseliner hangs around the baseline without ever venturing to the net, a "pusher" just pokes the ball back into play time after time after time after maddening time. There's no pace on the ball, and they're just so darn consistent that it makes you CRAZY! We wouldn't mind playing them if they'd just MISS every once in awhile.
I don't think that just because someone plays high percentage tennis that they're a pusher, and I think that a pusher could just as easily play low percentage tennis - and still be a pusher.
If you can take a full cut at the ball and hit with pace and placement, you're not a pusher (in my book) no matter NOW consistent you are.
Played a mini tournament in school today. Best of one set matches. Tested out my cayman for the first time and also tested low tension for the first time. I played with alot of confidence and it felt great on my arm. Must be low tension + 100% graphite. I started to do some baselining hitting harder and deeper, but my opponent began pushing tactics by simply pushing the ball back to my court ...to try to wear me down by using my own power against me.
Since he was playing at a much slower pace than I, all i did was rush up to the net and volleyed. It is that simple really. To win against a pusher, you do aggressive volleying. This way you increase your own pace and speed, add pressure on the opponent's pushing, and take advantage of the slow balls.
The truth of the matter is that if you lose to a pusher he is probably better than you are. Pushers may not hit the ball hard, but many of them are good.
I agree. 4.0's and below are extremely dependant on opponent's errors for wins. If a player is objective and listening to his/her inner voice he/she will themselves hoping for an error or a double fault from the opponent. After the match the winner at that level is likely only to remember the handful of winners he/she hit and forget that the match was really won by the error ratio of the two competitors.
The "pusher" won't miss if not given the opportunity to and for the most part merely gets the ball back until their opponent's do. 4.5's can end points reliably not on one timers but by being solid enough to wait out a ball they can end a point with. They, 4.5's and above, suffer progressivley less breakdowns of consistency and have more reliable transition and net games to get it done with as one moves up the level ladder.
The "pusher" can't "beat" opponents. They win and win alot from 4.0 down, by giving the opponent enough chances to beat themselves. At those levels there are big holes in different phases of the game. Once the opponent realizes that he can't hit consistently and patiently enough with a pusher a couple of things happen. First comes a choice between blasting or pushing, both of which the pusher welcomes in that the errors will mount and he'll be off the court sooner. Second comes the attempt to go to the "B" game. The problem at those levels is that "B" games are classified that way only because they are even more suspect than the "A" game the pusher has just exposed, i.e. a decent volley but no overhead, the inability transition or to recognize when to hit drop shots and lobs even if they can hit them with some reliability, etc.
The "pusher" merely lets the opponent miss. It doesn't change until the holes in one's game are all but filled and a certain level of competence, consistency, patience and strategic framework is in place at the 4.5 and above levels. Then the "pusher" has little say. Sorry but it's true.
I agree very much with this analysis.
I don't know how the effectiveness of a pusher differs from 3.5 to 4.0, but I do have the belief that the strongest 3.5 players will usually be pushers. I myself am the type of player who likes to construct points, and not wait for my opponent to miss. The problem with this type of play is that I hit alot of balls long, wide, or into the net trying to be overly aggressive. Because of this I can barely hang with the average 3.5 player who pushes the ball. I'm not one who considers ALL high percentage players to be 'pushers', because that would be the wrong choice of words. I consider a pusher anyone with limited technical abilities, and the ability to keep the ball in play by blocking the ball because its safer than taking a full swing. I do believe that the stronger pushers (3.5-4.0) will have the same lmiited technical abilities, but will also have some decent placement as well.
I think that once I am able to get my offensive shots to land in the court more (without changing any other part of my game), I will start crushing the pushers I've been having so much trouble with. I will also say that a pusher has never "beaten" me. A strong 3.5 pusher might get like 5-10 forced errors off me in an entire match. The rest is all UEs.
They are neither. Although I know pushers at 4.5, I doubt they really exist at a higher level because the key attributes I think of when I think of a pusher is "consistency" and "doesn't hit the ball offensively" which are the two most distinguishing traits of pushers 4.5 and below.
Both Gilbert and Santoro hit the ball very offensively with both junk balls and good old fashioned serves, returns, volleys, groundstrokes, etc.
Make them run. Don't try to hit winners against them until they are entire out of position.
I'm confused. By your definition is a "pusher" defined by the stroke (not a full cut) or by the fact that they always get the ball in ("they're just so darn consistent that it makes you CRAZY!")? My guess is that on the court you don't actually care about their stroke technique but their extreme high percentage shot selection drives you nuts.
I agree with this assessment of a pusher.
I dealt with many in the past. It requires you to think and strategize if this is not your playing style.
With one opponent, he was a solid pusher who won the tourney, same level all the time, the previous four years. He was essentially a sand-bagger. With his title on the line against me he added many *questionable* line calls, borderline cheating when he saw his opportunities to win was slipping away.
The ultimate player to hate playing with is a cheater, pusher, sandbagger.
just read my signature....
Out push him, it is the only way. Then wait for a complete gimme and... WAAAAAAAPPPAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMM!!!!
That's a good one ZPTennis! In my last match, I too started to realize that hitting on their forehand helped. Before I was just aiming at their backhand but that just makes them slice it back to your backhand... and it's hard doing anything with low balls on your backhand. Sometimes hitting top spin on their forehands make them over hit it too (yes, they can sometimes make mistakes)!
I picked on it too late though and lost the match (also because of my poor overheads) but next time I play this guy, I'll try your strategy. It looks promising.
I've played my pusher friend for almost 3 years. About 90% of the sets I've won against him. The thing about him is:
* He knows his serve is lousy so he expects me to come in on his slug speed, no pace 2nd seve. Up until recently, my tactic was to hit a deep shot to his backhand and occassionally go for a sharp angle to his forehand side. But I'm trying to change that to where I only come up when I hit deep. And stay back when I crosscourt him. The guy has some medium height lobs that make it tough to smash. Basically, I want him to worry about where I'll be returning his serve so he's more likely to mess up his shot.
* He favors his forehand, so he'll do all he can to avoid using the backhand. Consequently, that means he's leaving a lot of space on the forehand to exploit. One trap I use is to have him run to the forehand, then make him run to the backhand. At that point I come to the net and usually have an easy short angular volley to his forehand.
* He does not like low balls. I use a 2HBH, but occassionally I'll hit a slice BH. And I'll slip a FH slice. He can't really generate a lob against those shots. But I only do slices when I know I'm going to the net and not in position to kill.
* He is confident and never feels down when he loses a point. Probably because his type of game results in only a few unforced errors. He plays guerilla war with me. Fortunately for me, I play my deck of cards as the match progresses.
* I'll play shots with a variety of pace all over the court. The best way to take out a pusher is to force them to be an all-court player. They play safe, but even they'll mess up. Don't force the action, but dictate the pace. I recommend playing a semi-western grip for groundstrokes as you can get pace and good spin. Also you get more clearance compared to Eastern grip yet get the speed of the flat Eastern.
* Try moonballing him a few times. This will keep the pusher back. He'll be more apt to hitting weak shots. I tried this against my friend a few times and he was confused playing them. Keep pinning him back and then drop shot the guy. If they get it, punish him at the net or lob that lob-lover with good spin over his backhand side.
Very important: PLAY THE NET! This cuts down the number of strokes per point. And you can get pace while his recovery time is cut in half. Yes, the pusher will lob and sometimes get one past you. But you want to win at the net in 1 or 2 volleys. That's better than playing 30 strokes/point. Maybe S&V the guy when you serve to his backhand.
That's my advice for playing those pushers. Teach those annoying pushers a lesson!
I took on my Pusher friend yesterday. I won 6.0 and 3.2. I played smart, efficient, and won with ease. I moved the pusher around while playing from the baseline. I took him out of his comfort zone, avoided his traps to come to the net, and my serves caused him problems (mixed in topspin and flat). I feel GOOD as my tactics worked and he probably has no idea how he got blanked.
i hate pushers that cheats....
omg annoys the heck out of me
Right on, brother...
...don't forget "chip and charge", too. There's a million ways to do it, including "push back", but the only thing that will keep you out of the rubber room...while still giving you a chance to win...is to get to the net soon and often. Hot Tip: How's your overhead? Because if it ain't, you're in deep yoghurt...most pushers have great lobs...
Three weeks in a row of beating the pusher 6-4. I noticed he struggles against forehand slices. And he does not know how to counter my moon-balling. Now if I can just get consistent with my backhand slice and holding my serve...
His ground stroke mechanics also give him problems with topspin shots. And his replies on low balls are often flat. I'm 4-0 when he brings his ex-girlfriend to come and watch....haha
To really beat a pusher not only do you need to have good consistent strokes from both wings but the most important of all, you need a very good overhead which is one of the most difficult strokes to master in tennis. If your overhead sucks (like mine) all they have to do is to throw you a lob when in trouble and there is nothing you can do about it. Thats why pushers are so hard to beat. You really have to be a complete player with no weakness and master the most difficult stroke of all to really beat them.
If you have not mastered all the stroke, esp the overhead, you probably won't be able to beat a pusher on a consistent basis. The best option is to push a bit yourself, meaning you go for consistency instead of power and try to outlast the damned pusher with controlled power.
I think I stumbled onto another way to beat a pusher. I signed up for a tournament that will happen very soon. So all week I've been practicing my strokes. Then on Saturday me and my pusher friend played. I was ANGRY at myself for hitting bad shots in our rallies. I did okay in the rallies, but that was not good enough in my book. I'm challenging myself to be tournament ready.
When I played singles against him, I didn't care about anything. I was focusing on being tournament tough. Nevermind the last 3 times I beat him were 6-4 scores. Or that he borrowed one of my 2 best racquets. Or that I was cursing at myself earlier during rallies. Or that my topspin serve disappeared. All I want to do is prepare to take it another level. I used the shots and serves that were reliable. I mixed in some shots I was experimenting with on my own. And even though I won 6-1, I still wasn't satisfied. I am driven to up my game and with the tournament coming up, the adrenalie and intensity is off the charts with me.
In short, consider yourself the underdog when playing the pusher. Play with the energy and drive you would need to beat a pro. But play smart and use your best stuff, while mixing in a few different shots. Make the pusher beat you. Also, play other people so you can improve your strokes and strategy.
There is only ONE TRUE WAY of beating a pusher:
You can beat a pusher by pushing better than him, s&v better, counter punching better, hitting harder more consistently etc
You just have to get better.
When you get to the point where a short midcourt ball automatically means winner, you will have no problems with pushers.
I agree that the that the most obvious way to beat a pusher/hacker/etc. is “get better.” While my technique is always better than that of the pushers I play, I can’t beat some of them, so I must admit I’m just not good enough. If my volleys and overheads were as good as my groundstrokes, and if I could put away short balls, I know I would win every single time. But this is true of everyone you play, no? If you’re really better by a significant stretch, you’ll most likely win.
In terms of strategy, then, I have come up with a few things that have helped me win more often against stubborn pushers:
1. Sharper angled shots. Baseline to baseline isn’t good enough. They’ll track them down. If you can pull them way off the court though…most pushers aren’t used to this and will hit a horrible shot back (if they get to your ball at all) with no way even to get back on the court for your follow.
2. Kick serve, especially with sidespin AND topspin. If you’ve got a fast first serve, most pushers will chip it back eventually, unless you can hit lines. But most pushers I play flounder when I hit a kicker with sidespin that moves back in the opposite direction it came from. This serve to their backhand makes them hop lamely.
3. Down the line shots. Middle of the court is off limits of course. Cross court/side to side, they track it down. Down the line they’re usually not ready for.
4. Good slice backhand. Not an improvised slice, but the kind a coach would teach you that is fast, deep, low, and skips. Pusher won’t know how to set up for it and will hit it into the tape 50% of the time.
5. Service returns down the lines. Even if they’re not blistering shots, they usually work. Pusher won’t get there. See #3 above.
6. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS (or for a nice shortcut): If you play the pusher frequently, offer to play straight points sometimes instead of sets. Most people will go for it, except stubborn pushers who catch on to what you’re thinking. 5 serves each, then switch. I find that when I play even good pushers this way, everything changes. The “big points” factor goes out the window, so the pressure goes off of you, and it’s the burden of the pusher to get you to screw up often enough to lose. It usually doesn’t work for them over a span of over 25 or so points.
Or you can try, “Mind if we just work on groundstrokes today?” No pressure at all. Then you can watch your beautiful strokes go in most of the time and watch the pusher scamper around in his running shoes and hit ugly shots all over the place. We all know pushers are complete junk during warmups.
Most of the pushers I play hit flat or a lot of slice balls. By hitting heavy topspin, you cause slicers to pop up alot of short balls, giving you the opportunity to put away (or drop-shot) a fair number of them from near or inside the service line.
I pretty much agree with all of the posts here. I have to offer one other piece of advice though. Don't get frustrated with yourself. That is part of the pusher strategy. Sure, they seem like the kind of players that you should be beating easily, because they have no pace on their shots, and thereofre are nothing special. But, they aren't. The main goal of the average pusher is to stay consistent, and not make many mistakes. They wait for you to make the mistake. After you start to make a couple mistakes, you start to get frustrated, and end up beating yourself. That is how the pusher works. What you need to do to beat a pusher is you need to stay calm, and positive throughtout the whole match. If you make a mistake, let it go. Also, don't let the pusher be in their comfort zone. If the pusher is someone that sends up high, loopy, "moon balls" then take them on the rise, but usually, I try to move back. With pushers, (most pushers) it is OK to give them short balls because since they push balls all the time, they won't know how to be aggressive. Then, once you have the pusher out of their comfort zone, you can start to do what you want, move them around, come to the net, etc. I hope this advice helps, but remember, always stay calm and positive against pushers. Don't get down on yourself, and you are sure to have good results! Good luck!
If they're a halfway decent pusher, these strategies will not work. This is coming from one.
The fact that your opponent is a pusher shouldn't impact your normal game, if your normal game is truly a competitive one.
When I started out in tennis, we'd hit hard and make too many errors. If either player wanted to win a point, they'd just keep it in play. Then the opponent would chide them for not hitting hard, but actually all the pusher is doing is exposing the fact that the other player makes more errors than winners when they try to hit hard.
If a pusher beats you it is because you don't have a game that can threaten anyone yet.
It depends on how good the pusher is. Stop bashing us-- it's a legitimate playing strategy that works. Think before you talk down to an entire group of players.
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