Not good enough to beat a pusher

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Znak, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Znak

    Znak Semi-Pro

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    I just joined a new club/ladder and they pooled all the new guys in one box, 3.0 players with 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 players.

    I've had two matches, one against a 3.0 and one against a 3.5. I lost both of them because Im just not technically sound to put away someone that pushes the ball back or hits fluff balls on one shot and moonballs the next. I'll try adding spin or I'll try moving them around but invariably I'll be the one making the errors. Either because I'll tense up or because I'll get annoyed and overhit. I also think mentally I check out as soon as I'm matched up against this style of player because it's just not enjoyable for me (which I probably need to work on)

    What advice do you have to play more efficiently against this type of player? I don't think my ego can take much more abuse
     
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  2. samarai

    samarai Semi-Pro

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    only thing i can draw from this is that the results probably puts u at a 3.0 level. Cause no 4.0 to 4.5 player i know would ever lose to a 3.0 player. Sometimes u have to stand back and honestly look at your own game. i play alot of double and my worst type of partners are the one's that think they can blast everything from the baseline but have no variety in their game. They may hit 1 or 2 winners but then follow that up with two or three times as much errors and cant keep a rally going past 2-3 strokes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  3. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Learn to hit the ball in the court first, then worry about moving them around or putting balls away. If you have to aim 3 feet behind the T the whole match to not be the one making the error, then do it. Once you can accomplish that, start aiming for targets in the corners with ample margin for error. Up until 4.0 level, errors rule the game, especially in singles. Don't make as many as the other person, and you most likely will win. I learned from playing pushers. Have at least one match going in where your mentality is simply "I"m not making an error". Make sure your mechanics stay sound, don't just patty cake the ball.
     
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  4. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    Today youtube brought me this:



    Andrew, 5.0 rated player, struggled to make this win against the guy who mostly moonballed. Eventually won 6:4 6:3.
    I guess this puts into perspective the tactical value of it.
     
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  5. zalive

    zalive Hall of Fame

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    To the OP: don't worry! You need more experience, and to practice control oriented tennis, one without too many UEs. You need also a bit patience. You can't have everything now, sometimes you need to invest bit of time.
     
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  6. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    and s&v'd, and dink&lobbed, and had great touch...
     
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  7. Znak

    Znak Semi-Pro

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    You're probably right. At this rate I'm probably a 2.5

    Well put that's a good way to look at it.

    Thanks @zalive you're right. Patience, I need to relax a bit and trust the process.
     
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  8. jga111

    jga111 Hall of Fame

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    This is excellent advice
     
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  9. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Hey, I played a clone of this guy a few weeks back, except weaker serve and slower, and hence high 3.5 level. Very frustrating match that I won in a super tie but felt like a loss. I won the first set 6-0, and then he started doing what this guy does, I lost second set 4-6.
     
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  10. zalive

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    It's obviously not a 3.5. But his rallying is moonballing plus slices/dropshots, and this shows (moonballing) it's a gameplan, not necessarily any skill indicator if someone's doing it.
     
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  11. Dan R

    Dan R Rookie

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    First of all you need to practice hitting mid court balls. It's not the same as hitting from behind the baseline, and so it's a skill that needs to be developed. The reason 4.5s can crush these balls is because they have practiced these balls. You'll want to know how to do this even if you aren't playing a pusher because the reward for a well hit ground stroke is often a short ball in the middle of the court and if you can't put it away you don't get the benefit from hitting a good ball.

    That said often with a pusher pounding the ball into the corner is not the best shot. Here's a strategy that an instructor gave to me once that has worked over and over again.

    1. Spin and depth - for neutral balls hit it deep and with spin and push them back off the court, and wait for the short ball, eventually they will cough up a nice short ball. You don't have to worry about them coming in and taking one of those out of the air, they don't have that shot.
    2. Angle - when you get that short ball don't pound it into the corner, angle it off the court. The shot should bounce in the service box and the second bounce should be outside the doubles alley - you don't want to hit that ball hard, you want it to get down quickly slice is a good option. They might get to it but they will be on the run playing a ball that's at their shoe top and on their way to the next court over. Step in and calmly volley that ball into the open court.
    3. Drop shot - any ball that you get that's in between 1 and 2 hit a short ball and make them come in. Pusher's don't usually like to come to the net (it's not their game) and don't have the ability to punish you for a short ball (they are not suddenly going to hammer a ball into the corner). If they come in pass them because they usually aren't going to hit a great approach shot, if they retreat to the baseline then angle it off or hit another drop shot. Their momentum will be in the wrong direction and likely can't get either ball.

    If you develop the put away shot be all means use it but it's not necessary to win. You have to get comfortable playing inside the court, and not behind the baseline, when you play a pusher.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  12. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    OP, You already have identified a lot of your problems in your questions. Give yourself a break, you're new and inexperienced.

    Secondly stop reading too much into this forum's obsession about pushers and styles and hatred for certain play styles. Only thing you should be looking out for is cheaters and extremely unpleasant attitude players. They defeat the very purpose of rec tennis.

    Re styles, you should only be thinking about valid shots vs errors. Their turn to hit and yours to make. You're playing the game, not so much the people.

    Drop your ego. Even pros avoid massaging their egos. They always come into matches being humble and facing real possibility of lose. You cannot think you automatically deserve to win. True competition is win can go either way.
     
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  13. vex

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    While Andrew could hit TS FHs, his FH was very limited. He didn’t take advantage of a single high ball to hit aggressively to a corner. He let the ball drop and just hit an ordinary shot time after time. Against players like Andrew u can always defensive moonball bc they can’t punish you for it. Andrew needs to practice hitting high balls.

    Meanwhile the other guy had a better serve, good accuracy and great touch. He didn’t have text book strokes but he at least found ways to punish weak balls. In the end he lost bc accurate TS FHs will usually win and when he was able to get a rally ball he was the more effective player over time. But Andrews weakness kept it closer than it should have been
     
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  14. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Not everybody has that shot. Andrew also isn't particularly tall. I recall some slow mo of Halep hitting against a moonball from Stephens, and her radket tip was almost facing straight up. In a way attacking high balls, especially for shorter people, is almost like a reverse slice overhead. If you don't practice that shot, it's not easy. If I played on clay regularly, I'd practice it, especially after my experience with the moonball pusher I played in USTA a few weeks back on har tru.
     
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  15. zalive

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    Well, maybe two thirds of points (or at least 60%) were edited out? I myself don't dare to draw conclusions.
    However it's interesting that both lost majority of their serving games. Sonny maybe held once in the entire match? Andrew held once in the first set. From that fact I don't think Sonny served well, probably low % in of his first serve...highlights draw a false picture. Sonny's biggest strength by far seems to be his touch...but we even don't know how many balls did he send to net, thanks to editing out. Or what other mistakes Andrew did during the match to lose his points, especially when he was on the serve.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  16. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    This is a good point about the editing. You could be getting a fairly inaccurate picture of what actually happened.
     
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  17. ByeByePoly

    ByeByePoly Legend

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    Besides the usual of make them pass you with that push bh, get a lethal drop shot. Playing a pusher is going to be boring, but less boring with drop shot, lob, drop shot ... pusher sprints ... rinse and repeat.
     
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  18. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

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    I played a non-usta league 4.5 singles match last week, and won 6-0, 6-0. Since I could tell in warm up that he was not consistent enough to beat me, I just rolled my serves in with no pace and mostly just kept the ball in play, used the moonball and charge tactic, drop shots to draw him in, and passes. Since we had extra time left on our indoor court time slot, we hit around for a half hour afterward. During this extra time, I blasted serves, serve and volleyed, and hit hard topspin drives and approaches. Afterward, he says: wow, you play so much differently when you’re playing points! I told him that hitting around and competing to win are two very different skillsets, but that I enjoy both of them.
     
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  19. Steady Eddy

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    Back when they used A, B, and sometimes C, I got tired of always losing in B. So I entered in C, and won all three matches without dropping a game. So I was playing pushers. I didn't try to move them around and force errors. I just tried to not be the first one to make a mistake.

    When you start out, just try to be the more consistent player. You'll win more, and it will improve your game. You'll eventually want more power and accuracy, but you always want to be consistent no matter how good you get.
     
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  20. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Legend

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    That guy did far more than moonball.
    His angles are brutal. Great player
     
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  21. AdrianC

    AdrianC New User

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    Happens to me all the time, getting beaten by guys who just take the pace off and wait for a mistake. My main problem is dealing with the short ball, if i dont do enough with it they pass me or lob and if i try to do a bit more with it i often miss.

    While i hate missing and losing im not overly concerned as i havent really got around to practicing the short ball, atm i just tell myself - cool you at least earned the put away ball. Even the slice without much on it i should in time (more often than not) be able to top spin it into a corner - again not what im working on yet.

    Id rather lose now and work on a game that they wont be able to handle. My serve has improved enough, so now im working on crushing forehands from the baseline. Im old, so want to dictate play, earn more short balls and hit more clean winners. Thats the plan any way ;)
     
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  22. Steady Eddy

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    My goal used to be to keep the ball in play. That's generally a good idea, but not so much when the nasty short ball rears its ugly head.

    If you play it safely, you'll get easily passed at the net. So this is one time you have to be less cautious, and really risk hitting a good shot. You have really got to put pressure on the opponent here, or you're just a sitting duck at the net.
     
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  23. zaph

    zaph Semi-Pro

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    You're a limited player like myself and pushers can be a pain. A problem with allot of the posters here is they have big serves and technically excellent shots; they don't remember what it was like to not have those things.

    My advice is simple, don't miss. If you can't easily hit the ball, just get it back into play anyway you can, preferably onto your opponents weak wing. Grind them down, it might not seem possible, but even pushers break under pressure. I have actually forced pushers to start hitting the ball with more pace, because they couldn't get the ball passed me.

    When you have broken a pusher, it is much easier to start playing offensive tennis against them.
     
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  24. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    I have the completely opposite philosophy: as long as I get a decent approach in, I'm comfortable stacking my net game up against my opponent's GSs. The people who can easily pass me are better than I am.

    So, how much risk I take on the approach is also dictated by how good their passing shots and lobs are. I'll probably start off by hitting fairly conservative approaches; if they keep burning me, I'll up the quality/risk level.
     
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  25. Steady Eddy

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    You probably move quicker than me. I've got to stretch them with my approach, or it's not good.
     
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  26. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Funny and ironic, how you describe yourself sounds exactly like a pusher to many players. :)

    A question for "limited players" (like low level?):

    being a limited player, don't you play a lot with women, weak elder men and other low level players who can only produce weak hitting, less spinning, low bouncing shots???? Aren't those shots the first ones you should have mastered to deal with??
     
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  27. zaph

    zaph Semi-Pro

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    By limited I mean I have accepted I am not going to be able to generate winners and pace off nothing consistently, especially against a fast pusher who get everything back.

    You're right, what I am describing is pushing, but there is nothing wrong with learning from pushers. If the only way to get the ball back is to moonball or prod it; do it. Rather than make the error. In my defence, I can generate pace when I choose to and I also hit with more spin that a pure pusher but there is nothing wrong with pushing. Another name for it is defence, which all players should have.

    As for your comment about weak players, you're right, playing allot of low level tennis means you see also sorts of funky shots. Which has taught me to respect them, a short ball near the net may look less impressive than a big ground stroke to the baseline, but it can often be harder to deal with.
     
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  28. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    No matter how fast or slow you are, your opponent will miss some of those passing shots due to the pressure you're putting on them by coming to the net. The best example of this is when you hit a medium-paced ball straight down the middle and go to the net: you're not making them move at all and they have plenty of time. And yet, they still miss some of them.
     
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  29. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Legend

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    Zaph is right, if you have not drilled offensive shots like approach and volley with a coach,
    just accept that you will never beat a pusher since you are not willing to work at the game like a serious player does.
    You can try to outPush the pusher, but you will lose that game. Pushers have perfected their craft for 20 years.
     
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  30. FiReFTW

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    Yes however it also depends on the opponent, some get very preasured and male a ton of mistakes, while some are naturally great at passing shots (Nadal, Federer...).
    I pray at an opportunity for the opponent to attack the net, if I trust anything completely in my game its my passing shots, opponent at the net is my favorite thing, I just love that position for miself.
     
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  31. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Totally agree. I lost a 3rd set TB to a guy rated slightly higher and he hit better when I was at net. It was a blast.
     
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  32. Doc Hollidae

    Doc Hollidae Hall of Fame

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    Gotta be one of the most nonchalant styles I've every seen. Guy almost never ran. Would have been interesting if he was a little more athletic. Would be a very frustrating type of player to play against.
     
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  33. Doc Hollidae

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    Short people just need to step up and take it off the rise a la Agassi. With people that hit heavy topspin with pace it can be pretty difficult and taxing, but with slower paced ones like Andrew's opponent, it shouldn't be too difficult especially since he wasn't that great of a mover.
     
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  34. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    the issues is that "andrew" because he basically hits one type of ball, hardish with heavy top... his ball will tend to drift to the middle when he's not perfectly setup up.
    on the flip side, when mr nonchalant is placing the ball well, keeping the ball out of "andrew" strikezone, he never has to move from the center.
    IMO, one has to be able to hit angles against mr nonchalant (eg. side T), making him try to hit the touch shots, on the run, rather than try to "hit through".
     
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  35. Doc Hollidae

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    Yeah I agree. It also seemed easy to hit behind Mr Nonchalant as well, which could be done by taking the ball off the rise.
     
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  36. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    I find the short ball one of the easier shots to practice..you don't even need a partner. Just toss the ball in front of you, move up, and hit it in a corner. Get a ball hopper and do it a few hundred times.
     
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  37. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    One slight improvement is to toss the ball with backspin so that it bounces back towards you, simulating reality. Otherwise, the toss continues moving away from you towards the net.
     
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  38. Dartagnan64

    Dartagnan64 Legend

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    Patience. Pure and simple.

    Until your game matches your attacking mentality, be patient. Tennis is like golf in that inherently both are about minimizing your mistakes. Any technical sport is that way. You need to get technically sound before you can ramp up the power. So in the meantime, work on keeping your eye on the contact point and hitting moderately paced shots back the deep middle of the court. Once that's not a challenge. try hitting the corners. Once that's not a challenge work on lobs, drops and slices. Once that's not a challenge, work on approach shots and volleys. Eventually you'll be a well rounded tennis player that gives others trouble.
     
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  39. zaph

    zaph Semi-Pro

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    Depends how good the pusher is, I wouldn't assume that once you stop giving them unforced errors they will beat you. Nothing is more funny than watching a pusher self destruct, because they have been out pushed.
     
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  40. dman72

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    Of course, but many times when you are hitting short balls they have little or no spin or they may have been sliced. It doesn't really change the utility of the drill.
     
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  41. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Legend

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    One opponent in my rotation is super consistent.
    No huge weapons but great placement.
    I hit heavier than him but always lose.

    The days I come close is when I am patient.
    His balls are slow, so I would try to hit a winner on every shot.
    Now, I drive it, and wait for the no brainer sitter.

    One of these days, I am going to play 3 sets against him
    and force myself to not hit a single winner.
     
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  42. FiReFTW

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    What if you try to drop shot him and then pass him? Most pushers dont like to play at net and are poor at the net.
     
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  43. KenC

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    This forum seems to be stuck in time....

    The problem with pushers is that they capitalize on players just like those in this forum who think they are much better than they really are. These players never take real lessons to establish sound technique, they don't practice effectively, and they never learn how to play tennis in a pressure situation. Instead they watch youtube videos like "Hit Your Forehand Just like Federer" and really believe they are getting better when they are not.

    So, if you really want to improve in tennis, stop deluding yourself and stop cutting corners to save a little money. That means stay away from the Internet to learn tennis. In general, all the free advice found on the Internet is worth every penny you paid for it. Would you take investment advice from anonymous people on the Internet? Legal advice? Medical advice? Or would you seek the advice of a qualified person with a proven track record? Go out and find a few players who seem to always win and ask them how they got to where they are today. You will find that their responses are remarkably different than those you find here. Follow advice from those with a proven track record.
     
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  44. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    The counter-argument is that there are plenty of free sites out there with excellent [IMO] instruction. The good ones will emphasize that knowledge is just part of the equation: I actually have to go out and practice the heck out of everything.

    Also, there are people on this forum whom I consider qualified based on the content of their responses. I can't prove this but it's the same judgment process I'd use if I talked with a non-anonymous person. So when they talk, I listen.
     
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  45. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Legend

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    #45
  46. samarai

    samarai Semi-Pro

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    the discussions here assume that even we know what shots to make that we have the skillset to make it on a consistent basis. If that was the case we would all be pros instead of 3.5-4.5 recreational hacks. What i see is that players who have heavy groundstrokes have great difficulty with touch type shots and vice versa.
     
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  47. Znak

    Znak Semi-Pro

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  48. KenC

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    How can someone have heavy groundstrokes and not know how to punish a weak ball? If there really are people who can hit heavy groundstrokes, yet can't beat a player who only produces weak balls, then that player just knows how to hit certain groundstrokes and does not have any idea how to really play tennis. In tennis you have the responsibility to hit any ball that lands in your court, whether it is a dropshot, a fluff ball, a lob, a rally ball, etc. No opponent will only feed you the perfect ball you need to hit heavy groundstrokes in a match.

    Real tennis players can handle a wide variety of balls with consistency and can capitalize on opponent weaknesses. Those that lose consistently to pushers obviously can't and need to go learn how to play tennis, not just hit a forehand like Federer from the bassline.
     
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  49. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Really good tennis players can handle a wide variety of balls...

    Just because one can't handle a wide variety of balls doesn't make one a fake tennis player or any less real than a better player; just a different skill level.
     
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  50. KenC

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    Well, pushers seem to hit everything that lands in their court back, so that means they must be really GOOD tennis players.
     
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