I think I'm becoming a pusher

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by anubis, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

    Mar 2, 2012
    Played a couple of singles matches lately and I've been finding ways of winning which I don't like, feels like I'm cheating/pushing. I've turned in to the guy that everyone hates to play against, and I don't like that kind of "fame". I never wanted to be that kind of player, but I don't know what else to do in this case. If I try to play like Roger Federer, I lose.

    I'm a 3.0 btw. These are USTA matches, and my opponents are better players than I am. They have better strokes, can hit better angles, harder serves and much more spin than I have.

    I always start the match trying to go toe to toe with them. I try to hit as hard as they do, I try to hit the same angles that they hit, and I try to serve as hard as they do. But all my shots go out, I can't keep them in play, and I double fault may way to losses. I end up losing the first set around 6-1.

    I then get nervous and change my game. I stop going for the angles, i stop trying for winners. I just hit the ball back right at them with the same pace that they give me, I don't' try to add any more pace than what was given to me. I don't try for extreme direction changes. I just play high % tennis. My backhand is a slice, nice and low over the net usually. My serve is a slice serve @ around 35 mph, so its an easy sitter.

    I then go on to win the 2nd set and the 3rd set tie break because I find that I can hit 10 to 12 shots in a row -- I don't care how long the rally goes, because I can keep it going for ever, it seems. My opponents get frustrated and try to end the point quickly, but that only increases their unforced errors. My 2nd and 3rd set wins are almost all earned from their UEs.

    Obviously, this tactic will not work if I go 3.5 someday (i doubt i will though), as 3.5 players can hit 10 shot rallies with no problem. Soon, I'll be faced with opponents that don't hit many UEs, and eventually they will wear me out with their superior fitness levels and concentration.

    Therefore, to stop these embarrassing wins, I want to take lessons so I can start to win matches through better skill as opposed to pushing. Any tips on what I should try to work on? How should I approach a tennis coach with this problem? I don't have a very obvious problem, or one that is easy to put into words... especially if the coach looks up my USTA record and sees that I'm winning. I need the coach to realize that it's not just the results that matter, but the quality of the tennis as well.

    anyway, just felt like venting, thanks.
  2. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

    Dec 12, 2012
    On the courts; hard & clay ...
    emulate Gilles Simon...

    in practice work on your finishing shots (drop feed to crush sitters, etc...). this will give you confidence ot put away short balls and end rallies sooner when you get the opportunity rather than relying entirely on opponent errors.
  3. VeeSe

    VeeSe Rookie

    Jul 11, 2012
    Haha, 3.5 players can't hit 10 shot rallies with no problem. Trust me, they can't. I'm sort of like a pusher, and I pushed my way to glory in 3.5 last year, with lots of bagels and breadstick sets. I'm not trying to say you can play the same way as you are now and still be successful at 3.5 (I had better stroke mechanics than all my opponents, was faster, in better shape, overall I was just a huge ringer etc.), I'm just saying that your tactic works just fine with better mechanics. I don't hit pusher style strokes, but I employ the same strategies and they work really well, even at 4.0 (and I've had some success with it at 4.5 as well).

    In general, I think you're going about "strategy/tactics" the wrong way. You say that you start each match by trying to hit the same angles, with just as much pace, and serve just as hard as your opponent. That's a totally incorrect way of describing how you should play (or should want to play, really). You should try approaching matches by thinking about what your strengths are and how you can maximize them. What are the weaknesses of your opponent that you notice?

    When going into matches, go in with a broader strategy: most players at 3.0 have really weak backhands that they are uncomfortable hitting and inconsistent with. At the start of the match, continue to hit consistent balls to their backhand side, and see how they handle it. Are they producing a very similar ball back each time? Can you take advantage of that? Until they show that they can beat your strategy of just consistently hitting it to their backhand side, keep at it. You don't need to serve harder than they do or hit the same angles. You just need to exploit their weaknesses and use your strengths better than they do the same to you. Instead of thinking about serving hard, think about serving to their backhand consistently, or giving them the slice that you noticed that they don't like. Just some food for thought.

    edit: Just wanted to add that if you should actually think of being more of a pusher (or at higher levels, playing consistent, safe points, only taking opportunities when they are granted to you) when these things (among some others) are true:

    1) Your opponent is impatient and takes lots of risks.
    2) Your opponent's fitness is questionable (You don't even have to run them side to side if you want to be safe, just keep the points longer and you will get there).
    3) Your opponent seems to struggle with slower balls or topspin looper type balls: indication of subpar stroke mechanics and drawing a few errors from this early usually tends to shake their confidence and mental state really badly.

    By no means am I saying that you shouldn't try to take lessons to get better strokes and improve. By all means, I encourage that. I'm just trying to say: don't dismiss consistency so much. You can't hit a Federer winner on every shot. Not even Federer does that. He's actually extremely consistent.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  4. magnut

    magnut Hall of Fame

    Apr 7, 2011
    I think your just maturing as a tennis player.
  5. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

    Sep 11, 2008
    If I may say:

    In 3.0 -

    Every 50mph serve in is a success
    Every 10 balls in a row kept alive is a success
    Every reduction in UE in a game is a success
    And every win is definitely a success!

    It is far to easy to want to hit an instant winner and getting there by giving 10 UEs. I know, because I am that guy sometimes. Trying to overpower somebody or trying a highlight reel shot, and end up giving too many points away.

    Unless you intend to hit everything as a moonball which does not improve your skills on anything else at all, you are not really a pusher in a bad way. I think it takes time to develop a set of weapons and set of defending skills. As long as you can apply new skills to your game I see no problem at all.

    On your match I think at least you won by have a better mental game. I do agree with you that relying most points on other's UE may or may not work. There are always somebody who plays similar game and eventually you need to be more aggressive to end the point your way.
  6. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

    Mar 31, 2006
    They aren't better than you if they can't beat you.

    At 3.0 consistency is king. Just aim to be a counter puncher and develop at least one solid weapon.

    But good on you if you can keep the ball in play consistently!
  7. ShoeShiner

    ShoeShiner Rookie

    Jul 4, 2012
    My play styles developing phases are :
    ● Hard Hitter(imitated Safin) for 1 year,
    ● ● All Court(imitated Federer) for 2 years,
    ● ● ● Pusher(imitated Wozniacki) for 0.5 year,
    ● ● ● ● Counter Puncher(finally mixed) for 3.5 years.

    I think we should try many styles in developing phases, maybe we will discover our own styles.
  8. magnut

    magnut Hall of Fame

    Apr 7, 2011
    When do you start serve and volley? I think I was at year 6
  9. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Jun 18, 2004
    If you can hit 10 balls in a row, you will win at almost any level, certainly at any recreational level. As you get better the depth, angles, and pace will increase, but the idea is the same.
    Federer used to take far more risks when he was young, often serving and volleying. He figured out, however, that playing a less risky game would allow him to win more easily.
    I like Relinquis' idea of emulating Gilles Simon.
  10. ShoeShiner

    ShoeShiner Rookie

    Jul 4, 2012
    With serve and volley, how about your win/loss matches outcome comparing with other styles you played???

    . . . .

    In rec players level, the good serve volleyers are difficult to deal with.

    No super star playing serve-volley style for nearly 10 years.
    Taylor Dent?, Tim Henman?. NO, they were very good but not impressive.

    Serve-volley style!!! I never think of it. Hmm, interesting, I will add it in training plan. :-?
  11. spinorama

    spinorama Rookie

    Mar 8, 2013
    You better have a killer serve and fast legs to serve n volley every point
  12. magnut

    magnut Hall of Fame

    Apr 7, 2011
    Honestly I do very well. Obviously everything depends on how healthy you are and if your moving well since tennis is a movement based sport. I will get beat everytime if my back is out of whack as I can hardly walk (years of endless practice does this to tennis players through muscle imbalance). I can play back as well but anything weak or fairly short and I am comming in. Even if you are a baseliner it will help your game ten fold. Its a whole different game when you "want" to get in.

    You will start playing points in order to get yourself to the net. This can put a lot of pressure on opponents as it shrinks the court for them. You will see the court differently. Things like angles, spins, changups, and time take on new meaning. You will learn to read your opponents better. Your serve will dramatically improve not in terms of power but placement and variety. Your court coverage will get better and you wont fall into patsy mode. Your athleticism will improve and in short.....you will become a real tennis player with depth to your game instead of a hitter.

    One tip....serve and volley is not suicide rushing to the net. Balance and playing within yourself is key. You cannot redline or you will be out of control.

    Dont watch any of the pros now. Fed cant volley or play the net for crap. Study players like Edberg and Rafter (even Cash is good). None of these players were power players. All had weakneses....however, there games were in harmony and they new how to hold a rythem. Edberg is the best to study IMO. Very balanced. Rafter was probably the craftiest and most athletic.

    Get it in your head that everything in your game is to set up your netplay. When you serve or hit an approach you "want" the volley. Volleying in itself is kind of an art. Study the footwork and racquet head play/follow through on low, middle, and high volleys from Edberg/Rafter. Its all there.

    Tennis pros dont know how to teach it so you will have to study tape. 99% of tennis pros have no a clue on how to teach this stuff. Its not as common as it once was but it is still just as effective. Back in the 90s people were saying serve and volley was dead too. Then Rafter woin the Open a few times and a bunch of guys started doing it. Serve and volley is not common now because of three things...maybe four

    No truely great change-up servers
    Players are not as good athleticly
    Players are affraid
    Nobody teaches it (not a whole lot of Tony Roaches left!)

    Players were useing Poly string in the 90s
    Serve and Volleyers were winning on clay even!

    Oh one more thing. If you have not learned The Wardlaw Directionals in your game yet do that first. Every good player knows these from the college ranks to the pros. It will help your baseline game and wont effect you learning to S&V later.
  13. Narcissist

    Narcissist Semi-Pro

    Jul 25, 2006
    Someone once told me that in a match to only play shots that I 'own' ie. are consistant. At 3.0 level you can't really be a pusher unless you are dinking moonballs back on every shot.
  14. KMV

    KMV New User

    Nov 5, 2010
    @magnut- couldn't agree more.. I used to s&v in my high school/college days, still do as a change up.. Directional s and court sense are key..

    1 of the most effective plays even now -> wide kick serve to backhand on ad court, followed up to the net.. Gives you time to come to the net, usually a high volley or forces errors.. Works with eve5.5 as a change up..
  15. Tennis_Monk

    Tennis_Monk Hall of Fame

    Dec 1, 2005
    I would try this http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_98_5.html

    Regarding S&V, i would suggest to develop your own opinion. I see many teaching-pro's (and many forum members) trying to force it. There is a reason why it isnt prevelant in Pro ranks. However as another weapon/option in your armory/tool kitty, it is good to have it.

    Personally i hate S&V. I love passing shots and target practice they provide.
    Full disclosure: a carefully constructed approach to the net is extremely successful High percentage play and almost always results in an immediate point win for the guy at the net . I hate it when people do that to me ;)
  16. dherring

    dherring New User

    Sep 22, 2007
    IMO just focus on improving your technique and footwork. There is nothing wrong with a high % mentality at the 3.0 level, but if you want to improve it is important you do not sacrifice technique and solid fundamentals to just get the ball over. Learn a topspin rally shot and get that ball in play more than they do and you can build on that well beyond 3.5
  17. luishcorreia

    luishcorreia Professional

    Jun 9, 2006
    Lisbon - Portugal
    Shame on you :)
  18. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

    Nov 24, 2008
    OP, I think you said you were a 3.0. Well, by definition you are a pusher as per the characteristics of USTA rating levels:

    3.0 - You are fairly consistent when hitting medium paced shots, but are not comfortable with all strokes and lack execution when trying for directional control, depth or power.
  19. ShoeShiner

    ShoeShiner Rookie

    Jul 4, 2012
    You might be a serve & volley expert.
    I am collecting many video clips of serve & volley super stars,
    Rafter, Edberg, Sampras, I got their videos.
    I just watched Rafter vs Agassi in Wimbledon 2001 semi-final match, Rafter could rally ground strokes from the baseline with Agassi very well.
    I know the Wardlaw Directionals.

    Thank you very much for your comments, I will try serve & volley. :neutral:
    Playing serve & volley style is quite consumes energy with high risks. I think I will use it just as a secret weapon. :)
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013

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