Tennis Tip: 5 Ways to Beat a Pusher

So you’re about to take the court against a pusher. It’s most tennis players’ worst nightmare… unless of course you are a pusher, in which case, you probably wish we hadn’t published this article. Sorry pushers ;). Depending on your level, maybe you are terrified to play a pusher, knowing they will get every ball back, moonballing you until you make an error. Or perhaps you fancy yourself a good player and think you can dictate play and dominate the match from the first point. Be careful with that mindset as there is nothing more frustrating than not beating someone you think you should crush. No matter what your level, playing a pusher can be infuriating. There are, however, some simple tips that will help you beat a pusher every time. Here are five ways to beat a pusher:




1. Don’t be tricked into trying to beat them at their own game

A pusher is never going to be the aggressor. More than likely it is because they don’t possess the tools or the firepower to play an aggressive game. But whether they are incapable, or have just found that frustrating their opponents by being willing to track down every ball and wait for their opponent to miss, they are very proficient in extending points and making very few unforced errors. If you are reading this, then that is probably not your game, and what good does it do you to try and beat your opponent at their own game? Tennis is about having a game plan and sticking to it. Even if you are a better player than the pusher on the other side of the net, chances are you are not a better pusher than they are, so don’t play their game! Things may not go your way at the beginning of the match as you try to dictate play and get them out of their element, but even if you get into a hole early, stay the course! Your best chance at beating a pusher is to move them around, employing a variety of different shots, and keeping them off balance. It becomes exhausting tracking down every ball and bumping it back over the net. The best part? Even if you are down, perhaps even lost the first set and find yourself down a break in the second, if you catch fire and your game plan begins working, a pusher will have a very tough time stopping the bleeding and regaining the momentum. You are never out of the match against a pusher, and that advantage will always be in your favor. Play your game, stick to it, and good things will happen!


2. Get to the net!

Pushers usually are not great executing passing shots, or hitting the ball with the pace required to really stress you on your volleys at net. Whenever you have a reasonably short ball, try and get to the net! You will decrease your opponents reaction time, drawing more unforced errors than they are used to making, and setting yourself up to put more points away as almost any shot they hit at you will be returnable. This is not just reserved for serve-and-volley tactics. The chip and charge return is also very effective against pushers, and their only defense is to consistently hit perfect lobs over you, which even for an advanced player, is no easy task. Stay aggressive, and the odds are in your favor!


3. Be patient

Don’t confuse staying aggressive with playing recklessly. Though pushers are experts at chasing balls down and getting most everything back, their shots very rarely have the pace and placement to really hurt you. What this means is you will almost always have another opportunity in the point to wrestle the advantage from them, so don’t overhit just for the sake of “staying aggressive.” This is exactly what a pusher wants you to do! Move your opponent around with high-percentage rally balls and wait for the right opportunity to make an aggressive swing and try to get to the net. Even if you mishit it, a pusher will likely not make you pay, only giving you another chance to be the aggressor.


4. Be smart about your shot selection

Typically pushers hate high balls, especially to their backhands, and they hate coming to the net where they are forced to play aggressive shots. Use this to your advantage! Hit high topspin balls to them when they are at the baseline (which is almost always,) and especially to their backhands. This will draw short replies more regularly, allowing you to hit an approach shot (see the theme here!) Also mix in short angles and drop shots to take them out of their rhythm and make them hit shots that they are uncomfortable hitting. Also, by rallying with heavy topspin shots, you are playing much higher percentage balls, cutting down on your errors and again swinging the odds in your favor.


5. Stay focused, and don’t get angry!

The repetitive, and frustrating nature of a pusher is designed to take you out of your element. It’s easy to lose focus and aimlessly hit balls, resulting in committing more unforced errors. Committing more unforced errors against someone you feel you should beat is a very easy way to get angry on the court. And getting angry on the court is the quickest way to let a match get out of hand and end up as a loss before you know it. No matter what happened in the last point, game, or set: stay focused! Play each point as if it was its own match. Forget about the last point, and don’t think about the outcome of the match. By staying focused, you can stick to your gameplan, and getting angry won’t even cross your mind.


Think about all of these things next time you take the court against a pusher. There is nothing earth shattering in here, and probably nothing you haven’t heard before. But, by putting this all together, not only will you not fall into the trap that a pusher sets for you, but you will take them out of their game, giving you a much better chance to take care of business. Let us know how it goes in the comments section!



One thought on “Tennis Tip: 5 Ways to Beat a Pusher”

  1. Heavy topspins combined with moving forward taking ball out of air with swing volleys, drop volleys if u can do it, or hitting short slice balls to bring them out of comfort zones can help!

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