Tennis pushers might be one of the most annoying players to play against whether you’re a beginning or intermediate player. At your local tennis club, there are strategies for dealing with pushers who could make you despise the game and want to give up.
In this post, we’ll examine what a pusher in tennis is specifically, the advantage and disadvantages of having a pusher mindset, and offer some advice on how to defeat one in tennis.
What Is A Pusher in Tennis?
A pusher in tennis is a defensively focused tennis player who prioritizes getting every ball back above hitting an obvious winner. Tennis pushers are more frequent in the beginner to intermediate levels.
At the advanced or even professional level, there are players that rely on their consistency to win matches, but I would describe them as counter punchers rather than pushers.
Pushers come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and skill levels, but the one thing that they all have in common is consistency and the desire to get one more ball back than their opponent. As their objective is for their opponent to defeat themselves, pushers typically lack offensive tools like a strong serve or a devastating forehand. However, they can still score points by winning every ball back and waiting for their opponent to make a mistake.
How Is The Pusher Mindset And Its Advantages?
# A pusher mindset
Different standards for success will apply when you play a pusher and are the more aggressive player. The pusher’s success criterion is preventing you from winning the current point, whereas your success criterion is winning the point because each point advances you closer to winning the match.
As the point progresses, you try to gain an advantage, but he effectively neutralizes you, preventing you from winning the rally or hitting a winner, which makes you more irritated.
He becomes more comfortable in the meantime since he is only interested in neutralizing you with the one shot he plays off of your shot. And if he does it well, it strengthens him and gives him confidence, so he’ll keep doing it.
The pusher is so preoccupied with that one shot that he wants to utilize to neutralize you that he “forgets” that he “should” strive to win the point. He understands that he just needs little patience because of his experience playing you in dozens of matches, probably even today’s match. If he continues the rally, ultimately you will miss and he will succeed in his goal.
# Pusher Mindset Advantages
The path from the beginning of the point to ultimately winning it is obvious to the pusher. Because of this, he neither becomes worried nor loses his attention. But for you, the path to one single point is not crystal clear since you keep wondering what you need to do to win the point. So, the key mental advantage that pushers have is their complete focus on one single shot that they are executing.
When they succeed in preventing you from attacking again, they have achieved their goal and are therefore growing in confidence. They are focused on the process of constructing the point – meaning just focusing on executing one shot at a time – and not on the outcome, which is winning the point. They are incredibly composed and aware that they are on the correct path to victory since they can feel your annoyance, or maybe even hear it
On the other hand, you are intent on the result; you want to make the point. As a result, you become increasingly impatient and dissatisfied the longer and you are unable to succeed.
*** Read more: Slicing In Tennis: 7 Steps to Perfect Tennis Slice Technique
Should You Be A Pusher?
Tennis players who lack strength and rely on consistency and defense to win matches are known as pushers. Pushers rely on the mistakes of their opponent since they lack the capacity to consistently hit winners.
Although this playing style can be successful, both players and fans frequently see it negatively and as monotonous. Pushers can frequently frustrate stronger competitors, but because of their lack of firepower, they are unable to prevail in important competitions.
As players have grown more aware of the advantages of this playing strategy, pushers have been more prevalent on the professional tour in recent years. However, a lot of purists think that pushers ruin the game of tennis and that it should be about attacking.
Overall, the pusher is a title that nobody wants to achieve because it is considered unsportsmanlike. Furthermore, what’s the fun in keep defending your opponent?
How Do I Stop Being A Pusher?
There are several things you may do to alter your playing style if you see that it is beginning to resemble that of a pusher. Here are a few advice:
#1. Make The Effort To Be Aggressive
Aggression is one of the key qualities that pushers lack. They are content to play protracted rallies as they watch their seasoned rivals make a mistake. Instead, make an effort to control the rally by being more forceful. Seek out opportunities to finish the point at the net.
#2. Develop Your Serve
The lack of a powerful serve is a major component of being a pusher. As a result, the pusher opponent is able to control the rallies and put the other team on the back foot. You will be able to take charge of the situation right away by upgrading your service. Practice serving accurately and forcefully, and attempt to vary your serves to confuse your opponents.
#3. Practice Your Footwork
Pushers frequently move more slowly on the court and have difficulty catching deep-hit balls. This is why practicing your footwork is so crucial. You can reach more balls and put yourself in a better position to win the point by increasing your movement.
How to Win Any Pusher in Tennis
#1. Be Respectful Of The Pusher And His Playing Style
Never underestimate your opponent and never presume to win just because your technique is better or you have more powerful weaponry. If you are really a better player, you will defeat the tennis pusher, but don’t count on getting the victory handed to you; you’ll have to get out there and demonstrate your superiority. If you are losing to a pusher, it is not because of the pusher’s style of play; rather, it is because you need to work on improving your own performance.
#2. Show Patience
It can be tempting to always go for winners when you are playing a tennis pusher who smashes the ball with very little power. However, this is exactly what the pusher wants you to do and is likely to result in you making a lot more unintentional mistakes.
If the pusher is hitting in the centre and you are consistently aiming for the lines, you will eventually lose. Instead, you should be patient and wait for a ball down the line that you can strike aggressively while still having some room for error, such as when you’ve drawn the pusher out wide on one side of the court.
Choose a target a foot or two inside the line rather than going for the line. The tennis pusher could be able to reach this ball, but in that case, all they should be able to do is hit a weak ball back to you, which you should be able to do to win the point with ease.
You must also increase your shot threshold when playing a pusher because you must demonstrate to the pusher that you are prepared to play lengthy rallies in order to gain a point.
The pusher will be aware that their plan is working if you demonstrate to them that you will only take winners after two or three shots. To make the pusher believe they must do anything other than push to win the point, you must have a high shot threshold. This is particularly crucial at the start of a game.
#3. Try Not To Out Push The Pusher
When playing a pusher, it’s crucial to be patient and have a high shot threshold, but it doesn’t mean you have to alter the way you hit the ball with your groundstrokes.
Instead, concentrate on maintaining consistency and striking a solid ball at targets that leave you with a lot of room for mistake. It’s possible to lose rhythm with your usual groundstrokes if you start hitting more moon balls and slices. Therefore, it is preferable to concentrate on improving your own game’s consistency rather than attempting to imitate the tennis pusher.
# 4. Come to The Net
This, in my opinion, is the secret to defeating a pusher since they frequently struggle to make passing shots when you are at the net.
Choosing when to enter the net is the key to making this work, though. It won’t be sufficient to just hit a cross-court ball and then sprint into the centre of the net. A passing shot by you will have a good probability of being made by even the most unskilled pusher. Instead, you should wait for the ideal opportunity to enter the net, such as when the pusher is dragged out wide or after a successful down-the-line shot.
Make sure you are on the same side of the court as the ball you just hit when you step up to the net.
If you move to the center of the net, you will be leaving too much room on either side of you for your opponent to hit a passing shot. This will put you in the center of your opponent’s probable shots.
You will often find that pusher will try and hit a lob when you come to the net, therefore it is important that you don’t get too close to the net so that you have no chance of getting to the lob. Instead, you should aim to do your split step just as the pusher is about to hit their ball. Once you know it is a lob they are hitting, this will help you move back in time to get to the lob.
#5. Bring the Pusher to the Net
Pushers are frequently more accustomed to going from side to side and from right to left on a tennis court than they are to moving forward and back, so it can often be a good strategy to get them to the net.
Additionally, pushers typically lack strong net skills, so putting them to the net forces them outside of their comfort zone.
Just keep in mind to follow the shot into the net if you hit a drop shot to get them into the net because the pusher’s next shot will probably also be brief.
Recreational players frequently commit the error of making a solid drop shot that makes it difficult for their opponents to reach the ball while remaining on the baseline after it is made.
The pusher then almost manages to get the ball over the net, but as they are at the baseline, they are unable to react in time and lose the point despite hitting a good drop shot.
*** Read more: What Does LET Mean In Tennis? 2 Rules On Calling A Let
#6. Make the Court Wider by Using Angles
An additional effective tactic for dealing with pushers is to attempt to strike angles that will cause them to leave the court, clearing the way for a simple winning.
The pusher is likely to hit a defensive ball back to the center of the court, which you may attack and hit to the open court while still having a good margin for error. This is especially helpful if you target the pusher’s weaker side, which is typically the backhand.
#7. Practice Your Overhead
The lob and/or moon ball are some of a pusher’s strongest defensive weapons. These shots are excellent for allowing the pusher more time to reposition themselves and reset the point.
It’s crucial to build a strong and reliable overhead to counteract the fact that pushers can frequently hit a nice lob and/or moonball.
Pushers will continue to use the lob to neutralize the point and wait until you make an error on one of your overheads if you are unable to finish balls with your overhead.
One of the primary reasons recreational players struggle against pushers is poor overhead.
#8. Give The Pusher Some Space
You can put pressure on the pusher by taking some time away from them, making them more likely to make a mistake or give you a poor return ball that you can attack.
Stepping up on their serve, hitting balls on the rise, hitting dry volleys, and approaching the net are a few techniques you can employ to steal time from the pusher.
If you are having a bad day, you might be better off sticking to your groundstroke game because each of these strategies has its own risks and rewards and takes more expertise to execute properly.
#9. Change the Serve Type and Position Frequently
It’s crucial that you prevent a pusher from developing a routine when you serve. If you hit the ball in more or less the same place with the same amount of spin every time then a pusher will get used to this and will consistently return your serves.
That is why it is important that you mix up both the type of serve you hit and also where you try and place the ball on your service games. You don’t have to hit a completely different serve on every server but you should vary it enough so that your opponent doesn’t get into any sort of rhythm on your serve.
In singles and doubles, I have a strategy where I hit most of my serves with different types of spin (topspin, slice, and kick), usually to their backhand. And then every third or fourth serve, I hit a ball to their stronger side to keep them on their toes.
#10. Be Cautious When Making Your Return Of Serve
In my observation of recreational players, the return of serve is where a great number of points are lost since the player is attempting to hit a winner off their return of serve. When you are playing a pusher, this is a much bigger issue. Because it’s likely that they don’t have a strong serve, which will make you eager to rip a winner down the line.
But more often than not, you’ll either make this shot go long or into the goal. As an alternative, I advise hitting all of your returns into the center of the court while you wait for a better ball to attack.
On the tennis court, pushers provide you with totally distinct difficulties. It’s your responsibility to make decisions on the court, and these pointers may be able to assist you in deciphering the pusher’s mystery. And when you do, you will find out how enjoyable this sport can be.