- Take the game to them – attack, attack, attack
- Play your game, and play to your strengths
- Look for opportunities to come to the net
If you’ve played a fair amount of competitive tennis before, there’s a STRONG CHANCE you’ve come across what we would call a ‘pusher’.
Basically, this is someone who simply pushes the ball into play, not doing much with it, and waiting for you to miss in order to win points.
These guys can be INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING to play against, especially if you are losing, as most of the points will inevitably end on your errors.
But as frustrating as this can be, there are ways to turn things IN YOUR FAVOR.
Rather than choosing to play their game, you need to STEP IT UP and play to your strengths.
Even if you aren’t naturally a very attacking player, it’s important to start taking control of the points TO AVOID getting into a pushing battle.
Another thing – if you’re not overly fit, pushers can wear you down over the course of a match and eventually, you could lose based on fitness alone.
So, what’s the remedy?
I’ve highlighted my top three tips above, but let’s get a little more specific now.
1) Intricate strategies for each tip
Pushers come in all shapes and sizes, LITERALLY.
In fact, the pusher has become so profound in tennis that the USTA has discussed how to deal with different pushers right here or you could watch the video below:
But they all have the same thing in common:
- They make plenty of balls
- Usually have a good defensive game and
- A relatively poor attacking game.
This means that the following strategies and tips WILL BE EFFECTIVE against all pushers:
2) Playing an attacking game
Pushers will run around ALL DAY LONG and have an annoying knack of finding the court, no matter HOW FAR YOU MOVE them around.
Therefore, the best way of dealing with this is to switch up your style and play a more attacking game.
After all, if they make EVERY SINGLE BALL in the court, and scramble around getting most balls back, how else will you beat them?
You have to take it to them and TAKE CONTROL of the match.
Starting from the back of the court, I would advise taking the ball early so that you GIVE THEM LESS TIME to recover in a point.
On top of this, I would recommend trying to work in some angles, slice a few balls now and then, and occasionally, when the opportunity presents itself, flatten out the ball and GO FOR THE WINNER.
Creating different ‘images’ during points gives pushers less of a rhythm, and in my experience, this is something THEY ABSOLUTELY NEED to play their best tennis.
You could also try to work in some two-punch combinations during your service games.
This means that you hit a big serve, and then follow it up by smoking the first ball in the rally to try and END IT.
Again, this takes away any rhythm and keeps the points NICE and SHORT.
3) Utilizing your strengths
Individual players have THEIR OWN individual strengths.
For myself, I can hit a pretty heavy forehand that works the opponent around the court, but I also have a decent slice backhand.
I try to use these two shots as much as possible during matches, with VARYING REGULARITY depending on the style of opponent I’m up against.
For yourself, you might have a
- Great Backhand
- Awesome Volleys, or
- You might be particularly skilled at playing a Grinding Style of tennis.
Whatever your strengths are, you need to use them to YOUR ADVANTAGE.
Pushers want to suck you into their game, and this effectively takes away the strengths you might have in your own game.
It’s important that you don’t get sucked into this trap, as pushers will be rubbing their hands WITH GLEE if you do!
Avoid getting into those loopy-style rallies where nobody is really doing anything with the ball, and start to incorporate your strengths to DOMINATE THE POINT.
Even if this doesn’t work all of the time, you will be making a statement that you’ve come to play your game!
4) Attacking the net
Pushers will always HANG OUT at the back of the court, looping the ball back and forth until you get frustrated and make an unforced error.
Of course, you might also end up hitting a winner, but the pusher RELIES ON YOUR unforced errors to get wins.
Now, since they will be lobbing the ball back and forth, it can be difficult to hit an attacking shot from the back of the court and TAKE CONTROL.
Therefore, you can always look for an opportunity to take a drive volley or even a regular volley to then transition into the net.
When you do this, the pusher WILL BE FORCED to do what they inherently don’t like to do, which is to hit through the ball and play a more attacking shot.
If they LOB IT UP from the back of the court once again, you will get an overhead, which is pretty much the most aggressive, point-finishing shot in tennis.
THEY WILL want to avoid this like the plague, and it shows to them that you have an EXACT STRATEGY to beat them.
And should they SQUEAK the ball past you on a couple of occasions, that’s absolutely fine.
I can almost promise you that they won’t be able to replicate this enough times to make your strategy ineffective.
So there you have it guys – a recipe to beat one of THE MOST annoying game styles in tennis, THE PUSHER.
A bonus tip: I’d like to provide is to get yourself in the best physical shape possible too.
Pushers will make you hit plenty of balls and you’ll need to work VERY HARD to win the match, so it’s important that your body is up to the challenge.
Combine this with the tips presented above, and you should be just fine!
What is your experience with pushers?
Did you overcome this by using any tips not mentioned above? Jump into the comments and let us know.