It’s time we stop bashing “pushers”

Fabresque

Hall of Fame
Why does everyone talk down to pushers? They play the game like everyone else, just have a different playstyle. And what’s so wrong with people playing to win? Isn’t that the goal of the sport? To win? No respected coach or instructor would ever try and teach their lessons how to ONLY push (no improvement in that), but a lot of people see winning as more valuable than losing because you’re spraying your shots left and right.

Better to win ugly honestly.
 

shamaho

Professional
Why does everyone talk down to pushers?
I agree with you that yeah they play to win, they win ugly, etc - and it's a VALID style!

They're being "talked down" only because they are highly frustrating and infuriating to play against by most other players who don't yet have reached the skill-level to beat a pusher.

To beat a competetent pusher requires high skill level technically and tactically, and because the non-pushers have to make all the hard work and take all the risks.
 

shamaho

Professional
and also because immho at least I perceive them as:

-Not trying to develop their skill level and choosing to be stuck at this confortable level (that granted gives them plenty of wins) vs we trying to develop our skill level and employing those in matches, taking the risks and many times being foiled by basic zero risk tactics.

hmmm can we call it a war between fixed mindset vs growth mindset ??
 

Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
Why does everyone talk down to pushers? They play the game like everyone else, just have a different playstyle. And what’s so wrong with people playing to win? Isn’t that the goal of the sport? To win? No respected coach or instructor would ever try and teach their lessons how to ONLY push (no improvement in that), but a lot of people see winning as more valuable than losing because you’re spraying your shots left and right.

Better to win ugly honestly.

The reason I dislike pushers is because they force me to play like them to beat them. And I hate that.
 

Chalkdust

Rookie
For one thing, there isn't agreement over what a "pusher" even is.

Some people take a more narrow view that a pusher is someone who cannot generate any of their own offense, usually due to bad stroke mechanics, and therefore relies entirely on retrieving everything until the opponent makes an error. This is my personal definition. And by this definition you won't see pushers above 3.5 or maybe 4.0, because at anything higher you need to be able to take advantage of short balls.

And then some people apply a much broader definition where a pusher is anyone who relies more on defense than offense. By this definition, even some ATP players are labelled as pushers.

Either way I agree they should not be talked down on. The beauty of tennis is that you can play however works best for you.
 

mnttlrg

Professional
People bash pushers because they hate working so hard and losing trying to do things that are complicated, while pushers are able to win doing things that are stupidly simple.

It's the same reason that music school theory snobs who can't write a decent jingle hate rock stars who play power chords.
 
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R1FF

Professional
and also because immho at least I perceive them as:

-Not trying to develop their skill level and choosing to be stuck at this confortable level (that granted gives them plenty of wins) vs we trying to develop our skill level and employing those in matches, taking the risks and many times being foiled by basic zero risk tactics.

hmmm can we call it a war between fixed mindset vs growth mindset ??
The irony here is that I dont see many players trying to actually improve or learn new skills. They get to a certain point and settle in. That’s where they remain for years without developing.

The pusher just seems to do that from day one. Survive at all costs. No offense so the focus is on EVERYTHING else. It’s actually a goid foundation to start from imo.

Somewhere along the lines of development we forget/drop much of those pusher tactics and focus way too much on technique & aesthetics despite the fact that we’re usually not hitting a harder ball to return. It comes at the expense of match IQ because we get too caught up in our own game.

Sometimes when I watch pros, I think to myself these are all pushers whom let the development of their game come to them over a decade while never losing sight of patience & competitive IQ. And by the time they’re pro what you have is a mental master whom at 60-70% effort (pushing) is constructing beautiful points and rarely trying too hard on a per stroke basis.

Federer in the 2nd half of his career comes to mind. So much patience.
 

R1FF

Professional
That sounds brutal. :laughing:
LOL.

In the second set my opponent stopped leaving the bench. Was too tired. Tried everything to delay the start of games. And at one point had a meltdown and smacked every ball over the fence and into the street instead of serving.

I should’ve won by DQ. I didnt know any better.

Eventually the balls were returned to the court. The match continued. He hit nothing but moonballs. I’d never faced anything like it. I was a pusher that had ok pace. But I didnt know how to volley. Never came to the net. And had never played in severe wind, so any time I tried hard passing shots, instant UE.

I ended up losing. And then hiring a coach to teach me how to deal with the situation (ie moonballs).

Now? Im not a pusher but a “counter puncher” LOLOLOL.
 

R1FF

Professional
I’d argue the more frustrating player is the junk baller hack.

I kept one of those in my rotation all of last year. Just to learn to overcome.

I’d often be up 5-0 every set only to lose the next 4 as he went go for broke on his wacky slices and they started landing the less he cared. I hated playing him. But I kept doing it.

Took me 6 months but I just kept slowly working on my game. Patience patience patience... and slowly adding more & more pace without sacrificing reliability until eventually basic strokes seemed like offensive putaways. And eventually he could barely score a point off me. At that stage it wasnt fun for him anymore.

He’s still a very good partner to train with. He chases down everything. We just do drills now. The sets/games are boring for us both so we stick to drills.
 
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Vox Rationis

Semi-Pro
What happens when a pusher meets a pusher? Would they both be frustrated or they just tango till sunset? I always wonder.
Usually one of them gets pressured into being the aggressor and consequently becomes the victim of the other's superior pushing.

A lot of pushers actually don't know how to hit hard. Like they physically don't have the technique or the mindset or the experience to do it properly. If you can bait them into trying to attack a lot of times they'll start giving you errors.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
and also because immho at least I perceive them as:

-Not trying to develop their skill level and choosing to be stuck at this confortable level (that granted gives them plenty of wins) vs we trying to develop our skill level and employing those in matches, taking the risks and many times being foiled by basic zero risk tactics.

hmmm can we call it a war between fixed mindset vs growth mindset ??
I think it’s not that simple. The pusher is continually honing his craft of frustrating you. He is improving skills and match strategy in ways that show up on the scoreboard, even though his strokes still look ugly. In most cases, the ‘offensive’ player will never improve fast enough to overtake the ‘pusher.’
 

R1FF

Professional
I think it’s not that simple. The pusher is continually honing his craft of frustrating you. He is improving skills and match strategy in ways that show up on the scoreboard, even though his strokes still look ugly. In most cases, the ‘offensive’ player will never improve fast enough to overtake the ‘pusher.’
I like this nuance. Definitely true the pusher is focused on the less aesthetic details of competition.

Focused on the chess aspect of tennis & less on the physical.

It’s every bit as unbalanced & ugly imo as (the majority of players) whom focus only on stroke & pace. They do a lotta dumb stuff that result in UE’s yet get a free pass from judgement because it’s viewed as honorable to go down swinging. Maybe we should denegrate the pace hacks the way pushers are vilified? They’re both equally lazy.
 

nochuola

Rookie
I played many sports before learning tennis. Maybe it's the outsider point of view, but I never understood the general anger towards pushers. They aren't violating any rules (including general courtesy), and all evidences show exclusively pushing has a very clear skill ceiling which they will never improve beyond. I can see people getting annoyed by unsportsman-like behaviors like purposefully retossing many times, or always calling balls on the line out...etc. I would be enraged by a basketball player who always grabs my shirt, or elbows always sticking out. I would never be angry at an opponent who doesn't dribble or run around, only plays defense by getting somewhat into the area, and only stands in place and shoot open 3s. If I can't beat this guy, I just plain suck and have no rights to complain.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I played many sports before learning tennis. Maybe it's the outsider point of view, but I never understood the general anger towards pushers. They aren't violating any rules (including general courtesy), and all evidences show exclusively pushing has a very clear skill ceiling which they will never improve beyond. I can see people getting annoyed by unsportsman-like behaviors like purposefully retossing many times, or always calling balls on the line out...etc. I would be enraged by a basketball player who always grabs my shirt, or elbows always sticking out. I would never be angry at an opponent who doesn't dribble or run around, only plays defense by getting somewhat into the area, and only stands in place and shoot open 3s. If I can't beat this guy, I just plain suck and have no rights to complain.
I think most pushers who are good competitors fall into a gray area. They can hit harder, but they usually choose not to. Most of these guys are good athletes and have good net finishing skills (because hitting a volley is a similar skill to blocking a bunty slice from the baseline), but they are very careful and strategic about picking opportunities to attack the net.
 

nochuola

Rookie
I think most pushers who are good competitors fall into a gray area. They can hit harder, but they usually choose not to. Most of these guys are good athletes and have good net finishing skills (because hitting a volley is a similar skill to blocking a bunty slice from the baseline), but they are very careful and strategic about picking opportunities to attack the net.
Again, maybe it's the outsider point of view, but IMO what you described is a very defensive counter-puncher. I only consider someone a pusher if he/she pushes exclusively.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Again, maybe it's the outsider point of view, but IMO what you described is a very defensive counter-puncher. I only consider someone a pusher if he/she pushes exclusively.
I guess what I am saying is that “exclusively pusher” players are far outnumbered by the “defensive counterpuncher” types who push often when the competitive situation favors it.
 

nochuola

Rookie
I guess what I am saying is that “exclusively pusher” players are far outnumbered by the “defensive counterpuncher” types who push often when the competitive situation favors it.
I agree that is the case, and if I lose to one of the defensive counterpunchers, I think they've won fair and square by methodically getting me out of position or playing too aggressively. If I lose to a true pusher, then I just suck because I probably lack shot variety or makes too many errors.
 

BallBag

Semi-Pro
I don't like playing pushers or hackers because I don't play my best tennis against them. All push and no rhythm makes Ballbag a dull boy. I've never had a good, memorable match against a pusher. I respect their game and I don't hate on the player for pushing. Its just no fun being prodded in your weaknesses which are usually junky balls for most players.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I don't like playing pushers or hackers because I don't play my best tennis against them. All push and no rhythm makes Ballbag a dull boy. I've never had a good, memorable match against a pusher. I respect their game and I don't hate on the player for pushing. Its just no fun being prodded in your weaknesses which are usually junky balls for most players.
You would probably hate playing me then.
 

BallBag

Semi-Pro
I watched a match between Serena and Hsieh Su-wei and Serena looked very ordinary against her and it didn't look like she was having fun. I don't know who enjoys playing against a pusher. I've had easier matches against pushers put those aren't really fun either.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I watched a match between Serena and Hsieh Su-wei and Serena looked very ordinary against her and it didn't look like she was having fun. I don't know who enjoys playing against a pusher. I've had easier matches against pushers put those aren't really fun either.
I am guilty of pushing or junking sometimes. But I prefer playing against a pusher who never misses than playing against someone who hits huge but is very hit/miss, because that makes it even harder for me to find any rhythm.
 

1stVolley

Professional
That's a popular misconception.
The goal of tennis is actually to hit the coolest winners while having fun and being nice to your opponent.
No, there is no official goal of tennis. The goal of tennis is what you want it to be. Then it is your goal, but not necessarily mine. Maybe your goal is to win a match, but mine may be to get a good workout and use the scoring mechanism to set a reasonable time limit without having to look at the clock. Or your goal might be to steel yourself in a competitive situation and mission accomplishment might be to get through a tight match without choking even if you don't win.

The ITF rules of tennis specifies how, in general, a point is won and how games, sets and matches are scored. Nowhere is there a stated goal.
 

1stVolley

Professional
Nobody seems to realize that the easiest way to achieve consistency in tennis is to be a pusher. You don't need the ultimate in groundstroke mechanics to wed power with great topspin generate 80 mph groundstrokes and you don't need a highly optimized serve yielding 120 mph winners. Pushers do quite well with 60 mph serves that come in low and bounce low, just begging for you to whack it for a winner that never makes it over the net or doesn't hit the ground before reaching the far fence.

The ugly truth is that many club-level players don't seem to realize that they don't have the game to beat pushers either by hitting through them or by precision placements and superior net play. It may--probably has--taken the angry pusher's opponent more practice and lessons to get to the point that they still lose to him despite their more powerful groundstrokes and occasional Nadal-like winners. If your goal is to win tennis matches without devoting time, sweat and money developing powerful but consistent strokes, become a pusher. You'll need to be a patient person and one who takes a modest view of one's game.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I think you can both hate AND respect pushers.

The reason we hate them is this: Their game is predicated on us making unforced error after unforced error. Nothing infuriates a player more than his own mistakes. So win or lose, you walk off the court angry at yourself. Since that is not a happy place, it's far more ego-soothing to re-direct the anger at the pusher. Either way, you finish every match relatively unhappy and so you rarely want to play with them as it's simply not fun.

It's like having a friend that spends his whole time pointing out your flaws. Not going to want to spend much time with them.

That being said, their game requires consistency and that should be respected.
 

R1FF

Professional
I don't like playing pushers or hackers because I don't play my best tennis against them. All push and no rhythm makes Ballbag a dull boy. I've never had a good, memorable match against a pusher. I respect their game and I don't hate on the player for pushing. Its just no fun being prodded in your weaknesses which are usually junky balls for most players.
This is true whether you play good against them or not. I developed my game so I could dominate my local pushers & hackers. It was completely ungratifying. The matches were no longer frustrating. Just boring. I usually like watching an opponent meltdown, but I dont even get joy out of watching a hack get demoralized. Tho, since they’ve done it to so many people it’s likely their due.

Learning to overcome them was a worthwhile hurdle to conquer. But once done, time to move on. I want to play higher level tennis, and more importantly a challenge.
 
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BallBag

Semi-Pro
This is true whether you play good against them or not. I developed my game so I could dominate my local pushers & hackers. It was completely ungratifying. The matches were no longer frustrating. Just boring. I usually like watching an opponent meltdown, but I dont even get joy out of watching a hack get demoralized. Tho, since they’ve done it to so many people it’s likely their due.

Learning to overcome them was a worthwhile hurdle to conquer. But once done, time to move on. I want to play higher level tennis.
Seams like there's always a better pusher too.
 

JW10S

Hall of Fame
Given that the TTW definition of pusher is 'anyone who can hit the ball in more times that I can' the bashing is just sour grapes. As someone who has played competitively as a junior, played on a national Championship college team, played a little pro tennis and coaches competitive players I have certainly played against and coached players to play against pushers but I find true pushers are not very common at all. Because someone is more consistent, or has better shot tolerance than you, does not make them a pusher--it makes them better than you. Instead of bashing them YOU need to get better. I've read on this board people describing Andy Murray as a pusher--ridiculous.
 
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R1FF

Professional
Seams like there's always a better pusher too.
Once they have strokes, wre they a pusher anymore?

A good defensive player is just a REALLY good player.

One of my old coaches was a dominant 5.0 ... he didnt care about pace or power. Everything he did was just a simple counter to his opponent. He heavily instructed me to embrace my inner pusher. His direct words to me were: “you understand everything mentally about high level tennis (5.0+, point construction, fortitude, patience, anticipation) yet you know next to nothing about your strokes... it’s a very unique combination”. He stressed hard on me to not forget my mental game because I was falling in love with offense as I learned better tennis.

And I must admit, I can see how easily the transition can cause a player to lose themself.

I watched him play a match once. He was dominant on the scoreboard. But clearly pushing. At the 5.0 level. He took zero risks. Totally focused on everything else. His offense was his consistency. It was beautiful tennis. Super long rallies. It was pushing, but at a very high skill level. Cant knock it at all. Best of both worlds.
 

FedLIKEnot

Professional
I can not even believe I am about to type this ... as long as the pusher enjoys there tennis and is finding good results with their method I don't see how I can knock it. Now to be clear I absolutely hate playing against them and it isnt fun. But if I lose to a pusher I see that as a me problem not a them problem. Now it took me some time to find maturity with regards to this matter, and I do reserve the right to change my opinion should I lose to the next pusher I play. Haha.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Given that the TTW definition of pusher is 'anyone who can hit the ball in more times that I can' the bashing is just sour grapes. As someone who has played competitively as a junior, played on a national Championship college team, played a little pro tennis and coaches competitive I have certainly played against and coached players to play against pushers but I find true pushers are not very common at all. Because someone is more consistent, or has better shot tolerance than you, does not make them a pusher--it makes them better than you. Instead of bashing them YOU need to get better. I've read on this board people describing Andy Murray as a pusher--ridiculous.
I think only a tiny fraction of TTW believes this.

The best definition of a pusher is someone that takes no risk in his shot selection and puts no pressure on his opponent (other than the pressure of hitting moderately paced balls back over the net). With that definition you exclude every high level player since they can all finish a point given the short ball opportunity. They can all hit to corners to make things tough on the opponent.

In fact I'd argue that pushing really disappears after 4.0. At 4.5 the skill set of opponents is too great to just get the ball back down the middle and win.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
I think only a tiny fraction of TTW believes this.

The best definition of a pusher is someone that takes no risk in his shot selection and puts no pressure on his opponent (other than the pressure of hitting moderately paced balls back over the net). With that definition you exclude every high level player since they can all finish a point given the short ball opportunity. They can all hit to corners to make things tough on the opponent.

In fact I'd argue that pushing really disappears after 4.0. At 4.5 the skill set of opponents is too great to just get the ball back down the middle and win.
I agree that pushing ends at 4.5. At that point it's offensive vs defensive tennis, not straight pushing.
 
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