What is a pusher? Define.

Polvorin

Professional
What is a "pusher"? Does the term differ from the terms "counter-puncher," "grinder," "retriever," etc.? If so, how?
 

wyutani

Hall of Fame
pusher is someone who returns everything. rabbit, golden retriever, chaser, dog, bunny, or simon.
 

Lee James

Rookie
pusher is someone who returns everything. rabbit, golden retriever, chaser, dog, bunny, or simon.
To add to this, they usually don't play an offensive brand of tennis, choosing usually to use less power than most. They generally seek to play a lot of defense and allow you to self-destruct.
 

Aabye

Professional
'Counterpunching' is a term that originated with boxing I believe. (Let me know if this is wrong, anyone) In general, it seems to be applied to smaller guys who don't have a knockout punch (tennis terms: any big weapon) but are able to dig in and withstand the haymakers (Federer forehand, Karlovic serve, etc.) of a heavier opponent. They use guile and speed more to overcome their size disadvantage, and often are able to win by peppering their opponent with a combination of moves rather than one hard swing. In tennis a counter-puncher is a retriever.


The term pusher is usually derogatory, and refers to someone who hits a lot of junk balls. It almost always is used to refer to a counter-puncher, but not all counter-punchers are pushers.
 

Kemitak

Professional
aka pat-ball artist
and they feed off their opponent's pace.
Agassi was a counter-puncher, but not a pusher.
Nadal is a grinder, but not a pusher.
Retriever and pusher might be the same thing.
 

OddJack

G.O.A.T.
Pushers have low number of winners, and less unforced errors, sometimes less winners than unforced errors.
 
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SLD76

G.O.A.T.
'Counterpunching' is a term that originated with boxing I believe. (Let me know if this is wrong, anyone) In general, it seems to be applied to smaller guys who don't have a knockout punch (tennis terms: any big weapon) but are able to dig in and withstand the haymakers (Federer forehand, Karlovic serve, etc.) of a heavier opponent. They use guile and speed more to overcome their size disadvantage, and often are able to win by peppering their opponent with a combination of moves rather than one hard swing. In tennis a counter-puncher is a retriever.


The term pusher is usually derogatory, and refers to someone who hits a lot of junk balls. It almost always is used to refer to a counter-puncher, but not all counter-punchers are pushers.

couldnt have said it better. especially the part abouy pusher does not necc equal counter puncher. Imo, I think the difference between a pusher and a CP comes down to personality. some players are naturally aggressive but dont have the big weapons, so they have to play CP. some players are naturally more passive and feel more comfortable playing all defense.

pusher has a negative connotation b.c NOBODY likes to play a pusher lol, but its effective.
 

john5527

Semi-Pro
A pusher is someone who has a very limited variety of shots. They mostly just hang on the baseline returning the ball, waiting for their opponent to make a mistake. The don't look to play offense very often. They just play defense until the other person breaks down.
 

SLD76

G.O.A.T.
i would agree, at the pro level. i think the pushing style of 'softballer/junk baller/ retriever' is the one employed.

for instance..wozniacki softballed oudin to death

murray softballs/junk balls as the situation calls for it

micheal chang was a pure retriever pusher.

ETA: using this definition of styles Id say Agassi was a machine baseliner

Id say Nadal is a mix baseline retriever/counter puncher, this applies to Hewitt as well but Nadal is better shotmaker.

we all know who the bashers are( tsonga, delpo, gonzo sod etc)
santoro= spin doctor, junk ball, softball, chopshot, lol
 
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Aabye

Professional
i would agree, at the pro level. i think the pushing style of 'softballer/junk baller/ retriever' is the one employed.

for instance..wozniacki softballed oudin to death

murray softballs/junk balls as the situation calls for it

micheal chang was a pure retriever pusher.
So are you in the boat that believes Murray doesn't have the weapons to win any other way (this is what PMac was saying after Mopey's loss), or are you more he chooses to because it is often extremely effective without necessarily being tiring?
 

SLD76

G.O.A.T.
as I said before, I think that personality dictates playing style to agree.

I believe murray is just more comfortable playing passively. I think he can play aggressive( see how he beat nadal last year at the USO) but he is naturally a passive defender. But....the way he played cilic, I wonder about that FH. it either had an off day or it isnt the weapon its made out to be. his bh however is fierce.
 

FiveO

Hall of Fame
Great thread, I've always considered retrievers to be very similar to counter-punchers, but that second post makes a good case against that.

Going by that second post: Nadal would be a counter-puncher. Murray would be a soft-baller.
If you read on in that thread most you'll find that most professional level players are in fact hybrids. Nadal as an example possesses such a unique hitting style, his rally ball, his safest shot, qualifies as an offensive weapon.

But the "root definition" of a pusher is excluded from any discussion of a professional player as it carries with it a ceiling of 4.0 to 4.5. limit.

As an example, a Murray has all the physical tools to play as tactically and strategically inept as a James Blake. Murray could limit his game to hitting hard, harder and hardest. What separates the two is that Murray is emotionally and psychologically capable and possesses the imagination (for lack of a better term) and patience to stay in points longer, change speeds and spin to consistently find opponent's limits in those last two categories and compared to a Blake has produced far more consistent results, but again he can and does produce every shot including hard, harder and hardest.

That being said, on "a day" the less versatile purely offensive player like a Blake or pre-Stefanki influenced Gonzo can blow any more well rounded, patient and tactically superior player, because on that day even their ill-advised shot selections fall in.

But on the pro-level, simply because a guy finds it within his psychological/emotional comfort zone to hit harder more often, that doesn't relegate the pro who doesn't choose to bang with him to pusher status.

Federer had his most ridiculously consistent years out-lasting most opponents with patience and tactics, forcing everyone, from the counter puncher to blaster past their limits. He could have gone for a winner or near winner within the first three shots of a point every point and surely had the tools to do it but he wouldn't have won as much as he did if he chose to. Is he a pusher too?

IMO it's a lazy definition as applied to professional tennis.

5
 

SLD76

G.O.A.T.
IMO it's a lazy definition as applied to professional tennis.
how about the definition of a player who plays defense for defense's sake. just b/c you dont go for the winner, does that mean you are not pressing the issue tactically?

i guess the question where does point construction end and defense for the sake of defense begin?
 
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batz

G.O.A.T.
If you read on in that thread most you'll find that most professional level players are in fact hybrids. Nadal as an example possesses such a unique hitting style, his rally ball, his safest shot, qualifies as an offensive weapon.

But the "root definition" of a pusher is excluded from any discussion of a professional player as it carries with it a ceiling of 4.0 to 4.5. limit.

As an example, a Murray has all the physical tools to play as tactically and strategically inept as a James Blake. Murray could limit his game to hitting hard, harder and hardest. What separates the two is that Murray is emotionally and psychologically capable and possesses the imagination (for lack of a better term) and patience to stay in points longer, change speeds and spin to consistently find opponent's limits in those last two categories and compared to a Blake has produced far more consistent results, but again he can and does produce every shot including hard, harder and hardest.

That being said, on "a day" the less versatile purely offensive player like a Blake or pre-Stefanki influenced Gonzo can blow any more well rounded, patient and tactically superior player, because on that day even their ill-advised shot selections fall in.

But on the pro-level, simply because a guy finds it within his psychological/emotional comfort zone to hit harder more often, that doesn't relegate the pro who doesn't choose to bang with him to pusher status.

Federer had his most ridiculously consistent years out-lasting most opponents with patience and tactics, forcing everyone, from the counter puncher to blaster past their limits. He could have gone for a winner or near winner within the first three shots of a point every point and surely had the tools to do it but he wouldn't have won as much as he did if he chose to. Is he a pusher too?

IMO it's a lazy definition as applied to professional tennis.

5
+ a googolplex

One of the best posts I've ever seen on here.
 

Aabye

Professional
If you read on in that thread most you'll find that most professional level players are in fact hybrids. Nadal as an example possesses such a unique hitting style, his rally ball, his safest shot, qualifies as an offensive weapon.

But the "root definition" of a pusher is excluded from any discussion of a professional player as it carries with it a ceiling of 4.0 to 4.5. limit.

As an example, a Murray has all the physical tools to play as tactically and strategically inept as a James Blake. Murray could limit his game to hitting hard, harder and hardest. What separates the two is that Murray is emotionally and psychologically capable and possesses the imagination (for lack of a better term) and patience to stay in points longer, change speeds and spin to consistently find opponent's limits in those last two categories and compared to a Blake has produced far more consistent results, but again he can and does produce every shot including hard, harder and hardest.

That being said, on "a day" the less versatile purely offensive player like a Blake or pre-Stefanki influenced Gonzo can blow any more well rounded, patient and tactically superior player, because on that day even their ill-advised shot selections fall in.

But on the pro-level, simply because a guy finds it within his psychological/emotional comfort zone to hit harder more often, that doesn't relegate the pro who doesn't choose to bang with him to pusher status.

Federer had his most ridiculously consistent years out-lasting most opponents with patience and tactics, forcing everyone, from the counter puncher to blaster past their limits. He could have gone for a winner or near winner within the first three shots of a point every point and surely had the tools to do it but he wouldn't have won as much as he did if he chose to. Is he a pusher too?

IMO it's a lazy definition as applied to professional tennis.

5
Can you really say that Murray can play like Blake or Gonzo? I mean, he might be able to do it for a little while, but not for a sustained period. And I don't just mean from a consistency standpoint (if those guys could do that consistently, we would be having an entirely different discussion), but from a physical standpoint. They just seem a lot stronger than Murray in my opinion.

I hope I am making sense, because the point I am trying to get at is how much does a players physical presence play into their style of play?
 

burosky

Professional
Are those Pros mentioned here as pushers really pushers or do they just play the style they deem appropriate for the situation? I have a hard time understanding a Pro being called a pusher. I just don't see the similarities between a Pro and a recreational player who is labeled as a pusher. For me, a pusher is someone who just bumps the ball back every single time to keep the ball in play. I can't imagine a Pro doing the same. If you think they do, I'm pretty sure it's not the same "bump" a recreational player who is thought of as a pusher hits.
 

NickC

Professional
A pusher is someone who just gets to every ball and just taps it 50 feet in the air, retrieves the next shot, and does it all again.

Counter-punching is not pushing. Counter punching is the most tactically sound style of play- it's hitting shots that allow you to put your opponent out of his comfort zone by means of hitting shots to them that they don't want; long enough to set up the point in your favor so you can go for the winner. I was once called a pusher by a guy I played who camped out at the baseline and hit nothing but massive topspin shots. Instead of trying to outhit the guy, I just sliced all his topspin shots (not baby slice, but a hard and low slice) so he had to hit harder and higher to make his ball stay in, until he'd miss, or hit a short, high ball that I'd walk up to and smack a winner. That is effective counter-punching, not pushing.
 

Danstevens

Semi-Pro
None of the pros people call pushers are pushers in the truest sense of the word. I mean, if all you can do is run balls down, you'd better be seriously good at it if you want to beat any half-decent player, let alone a pro.

As for what "pusher" means when someone is called it in recreational tennis; it is generally used as a derogatory term for people who refuse to generate any pace on the ball or make any attempt at a winner. They don't beat you - you beat yourself when you play a pusher. They will run down every shot you hit and then either dink it pack in to play with no pace at all or just "moon-ball" it (basically hit it as high as they can in order to try to make you miss). This game doesn't work at higher levels because no-one could run fast enough for long enough to keep the ball in play and make their opponent make an error. If you think about it, the higher up in NTRP you go, the more shots a player can make without committing errors and the better shots the will be able to hit off a pusher's rubbish dink.
 

SLD76

G.O.A.T.
i agree that at the pro-level, no true pushers exist.

I like the idea of the softballer/junkballer/retriever. by the list of definitions, thats the closest a tour player would come to actual pushing.

people are so quick to label murray a pusher because he likes to mix up speeds and paces and basically invites his opponent to overhit/miss.

Id call murray an aggressive defender :)
 

coyfish

Hall of Fame
Pushers in my mind are people who only play safe shots unless they are in obvious position to close.

Some pushers just dink the ball back and some better pushers can use backhand / forehand slices and come to the net. Other pushers may just hit moderate topspin shots over and over. The point is they never take a conscious risk .

There are some 4.0-4.5 pushers but above that level they no longer exist in mens tennis.

Just how I define a pusher.
 

Bertie B

Professional
I agree that playing style is based on personality. Maybe pushing is something you can't put into words but have to see to understand.
 

FiveO

Hall of Fame
Can you really say that Murray can play like Blake or Gonzo? I mean, he might be able to do it for a little while, but not for a sustained period. And I don't just mean from a consistency standpoint (if those guys could do that consistently, we would be having an entirely different discussion), but from a physical standpoint. They just seem a lot stronger than Murray in my opinion.

I hope I am making sense, because the point I am trying to get at is how much does a players physical presence play into their style of play?
Almost all of the pros could "play like" Blake or Gonzo, alot, almost mindlessly, do, but he wouldn't be, now #3 doing it.

IMO alot of it has to do with personalities, the psychological/emotional/ability to think cleary under stress, etc. more than stroke production.

Like us the pros have varying degrees of emotional stability and mental fortitude, on the tennis court. There is, for lack of better term, we have a mental/physiological clock, which somehow pre-determines if a particular player is built more for patience or aggression. It almost forces a player to end points within a certain number of shots, and if that doesn't happen within that time parameter anxiety levels rise. To a degree I believe this is hard wired. Sampras was a short span but with myriad tools to get it done. Blake is similar without nearly the tools. Federer is wired with a longer shot tolerance and a huge bag of tools which matches up against anyone but Nadal who has a longer shot tolerance and blessed with a rally ball that dovetails into Fed's relative weakness.

Adjustments are relative, how far a pro-player can expand himself toward more consistency for more consistent results still has limits. Gonzo and Verdasco put in the work to become more fit and expand their built in clocks and have had their best results since, but that doesn't mean they suddenly changed from a first strike stance to a willingness to simply attrit an opponent with 30 stroke rally after 30 stroke rally point to point. Murray was more of a shot maker/shot misser until made himself a more physical specimen through hard work, which gave him the confidence to stay in points longer and go offensive when in a truly advantageous spot during a given point rather than when "he had to" because of running out of gas during the point and/or over the course of the match.

Both Murray and Djokovic have been quoted as saying that they are still working to find the most successful and consistent happy medium between caution and aggression. But yes any of these pros could hit "like" any of the blasters. It probably wouldn't fit their psyches as well and their results would likely suffer or roller coaster similar to a Blake, as a result.

5
 

pabletion

Hall of Fame
Its a player who doesnt exist inside the ATP tour.

Pushers not equal to: grinder, scrambler, counter-puncher.
 

jt1224x0

Rookie
Pushniacki :

A nickname given to women's tennis player Caroline Wozniacki referring to her 'pushing' type of play where she hits very few winners and returns all her opponents shots (pushing) until they force an error.

urbandictionary.com lol:twisted:
 

Ray Mercer

Hall of Fame
In boxing a counter puncher is someone who waits for his opponent to initiate and then counters their offense. An example would be to counter a jab with an overhand right. A counter puncher will still try to finish off their opponent when they have them hurt. I would classify Nadal as a counter puncher as he will go for the kill when his opponent has been hurt (ie. given up a short ball). I woudl compare a guy like Federer to Mike Tyson as he looks to take your head off with aggression and skill.
 

coyfish

Hall of Fame
Here is a test to find out if who you are playing is a pusher.

Push back. . .

Hit 50% and just consistently hit mid pace balls right to the middle. Pushers won't change their style and you will most likely have a long rally.

Pro's are not pushers . . . period. If you give a mid pace shot to the middle of the court to wozniaki you better believe its coming to your weakness and shes looking to start dictating.
 

skip1969

G.O.A.T.
Pusher is the most overused term on TTW, used by people who think a certain player's style is boring.
"choke(r)" is probably the most overused. and then maybe "goat". :)

but i'd put "pusher" at no. 3. at some point, it's probably been used on this board to describe just about every single player on tour . . . particularly when the "pusher" is beating/has beaten the player you wanted to win.

in any case, it's a word so misused/overused on here that it means absolutely nothing.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
I always thought there was an element of necessity in "pushing." The pusher is restricted to just getting balls back because they really can't put away shots and really have no weapons to play more aggresively.

On the other hand, counter-punchers (like Wozniacki IMO) may not have the biggest weapons and may choose to play a smaller number of aggressive points than other players, but they do have the ability to play aggressively and put balls away at times. Again, they may not have the biggest or most consistent weapons, but they have something beyond merely getting the ball back.

Others have stated on other threads that there really are no "pushers"
at the top levels of the game. I'd agree with that.
 

jms007

Professional
'Counterpunching' is a term that originated with boxing I believe. (Let me know if this is wrong, anyone) In general, it seems to be applied to smaller guys who don't have a knockout punch (tennis terms: any big weapon) but are able to dig in and withstand the haymakers (Federer forehand, Karlovic serve, etc.) of a heavier opponent. They use guile and speed more to overcome their size disadvantage, and often are able to win by peppering their opponent with a combination of moves rather than one hard swing.
[/B]
Actually, in boxing or fighting in general a counter-puncher is someone who waits for you to throw a punch before throwing one, or punches you as you wind up. It has nothing to do with lack of power.
 

coloskier

Legend
A pusher is anyone who wins a match waiting for your opponents errors. A pusher does not go for winners (see Roddick), only serves to put the ball in play, and/or avoids going to the net at all costs to finish a point. A counterpuncher is a pusher if he waits for the opponent to come to the net and then tries to pass, rather than trying to win the point outright with his own winners.
 

jdubbs

Hall of Fame
Instead of trying to outhit the guy, I just sliced all his topspin shots (not baby slice, but a hard and low slice) so he had to hit harder and higher to make his ball stay in, until he'd miss, or hit a short, high ball that I'd walk up to and smack a winner. That is effective counter-punching, not pushing.
No, that's pushing. If you're hitting the ball right back to the guy and using his pace against him, you're a pusher. If you throw in a drop shot/lob combo, you're a pusher/junkballer. Though to be fair to you, if you're hitting winners consistently, you're not a true pusher. But I bet he made a lot more UE's than you hit winners...am I right?

No pro is a pusher, though there might be certain points where they look like they're pushing. The exciting player mix up their game; Federer can push, junkball, pass, hit hard, and volley -all on the same point. That's why he's one of the best.
 
Fundamentally, a pusher is someone who doesn't have a stroke powered by their legs and involving a rotation of their shoulders. They literally push their groundstrokes in the same motion that you would use to push a door open. They're extremely common at the beginner and low level recreational level but don't exist at any level of competitive tennis.
 

li0scc0

Hall of Fame
Fundamentally, a pusher is someone who doesn't have a stroke powered by their legs and involving a rotation of their shoulders. They literally push their groundstrokes in the same motion that you would use to push a door open. They're extremely common at the beginner and low level recreational level but don't exist at any level of competitive tennis.
Exactly.
Murray is a solid counterpuncher, as is Wozniacki.
There are no pushers at the Professional level, male or female.
 

darrinbaker00

Professional
What is a "pusher"? Does the term differ from the terms "counter-puncher," "grinder," "retriever," etc.? If so, how?
If you're a fan of (insert defensive-minded player's name here), than he or she is a "counter-puncher" or "grinder." If you're not a fan, then he or she is a "pusher." That's the difference.
 

li0scc0

Hall of Fame
If you're a fan of (insert defensive-minded player's name here), than he or she is a "counter-puncher" or "grinder." If you're not a fan, then he or she is a "pusher." That's the difference.
Well, there ARE no pushers in the professional ranks. So, the truth of the matter is...
If you dislike (insert player here), then he/she is a pusher.
Hence why those who dislike Murray, Ferrer, Wozniacki, etc. call them pushers, even though pushers are rarely seen beyond the 3.5 level :)
 
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