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post #16 of 35 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2011, 02:27 PM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Originally Posted by croat123 View Post
for me it was always about keeping it together mentally and going for the percentages. imo, the worst thing you can do is try to adapt your game style. when i played juniors i was a pretty big hitter and i when i'd play a pusher/grinder i'd just go shot by shot and try to block everything else out
Fair enough. But as you say, you played juniors (i.e. you no doubt are a fully developed player on a technical front) and you hit pretty big. Therefore your normal game should be enough to eventually beat a pusher, assuming you didn't lose your cool mentally. If the opponent throws up a "reset" lob you can probably hammer a big fh to gain the advantage. If the opponent hits a squash slice defence, you can adjust to the odd bounce and hit a good shot which should be awkward for your opponent. If you get to the net you can probably finish the point. Going for percentages, for you, means finding the right balance between aggressiveness and patience that allows you to attack for say 6 or 7 shots in order to finish the point.

However, the OP doesn't seem to have the same technical advantages as you. His normal game, even if he stays calm, doesn't seem to be enough to win. Which is why I, and other posters, have suggested some alternative strategies. Without watching the match it is a little difficult to tell if this is just mental, but from the OP's posts it seems to be linked to technical difficulties with attacking high balls and no-pace balls, adjusting to the bounce from junk balls, and finishing at net.

If I summarise the ideas that other posters have suggested, we have:
  • Try to beat him by playing like a pusher. This will work if the pusher is merely covering up a tendency to be inaccurate by playing very safe, and therefore only works at lower levels. Many lower level pushers actually do play that way simply because they lack the accuracy to play other ways. This might be a feasible strategy for the OP, depending on how well he can play pusher style himself, but he has said that he does not want to play this way. You also need great patience and endurance to outlast a pusher like this.

  • The FYB video suggests ways of using aggressive play and creativity to rush and outposition the pusher. I.e. the video presumes that you have the tools to put away a pusher, and that you merely need to move well and look for the openings. This works if you are a strong modern player- you simply need to be focused and see any openings that pop up. If you have good attacking groundies and good forecourt skills there are always many ways of finishing a point against a pusher. You just need to make sure you don't get lulled into their rhythm, but instead continue to play your aggressive game. Rushing the pusher is how pros beat them- they dominate them and give them no time. They take balls out of the air and swing volley, they take balls early, they smack away high balls, they don't give the pusher any "safety zone". I.e. calculated risks defeats totally safe shots. However, the OP has mentioned that he struggles to finish the point at net, he mentions that if he tries to rush the opponent he makes more errors, and he also mentions that there is "nothing to work with on the ball" which suggests that he struggles to hit a big shot off a nothing ball. So these very aggressive and creative strategies, which are good for up and coming juniors etc, are probably not a good fit for the OP.

    I like to play pushers this way, but I'm not the OP. For an aggressive player, pushers are just practice for opening the court and hitting winners. But you need to be a certain kind of player to win that way.

  • The taking the ball early and using angles suggestions fall in the same category. They are good ideas to defeat pushers, but they require a certain set of skills that perhaps the OP does not have yet. (Maybe he will acquire these skills in time.) Taking the high balls and volleying or smashing them falls prey to the same problem- these are high level skills, unless you are a natural net player. Searching patiently for a little weakness in the opponent is a common way of winning for good juniors or amateurs, but requires you to have a lot of on-court insight which not everyone has. If the OP had this kind of insight he would probably already have defeated his friend when he tried to push.

  • I liked Ms Q's idea of not going into DTL (into the open court) so much and hitting back cc more often. She also mentions that you need to keep your own rhythm. My idea extrapolates on that.

  • I think instead of opening the court up and being frustrated by moonballs or slices which reset the point, the OP should try to draw the opponent into a hitting battle: i.e. try to make him not play like a pusher. But how do you do that?

    If I were the OP, I would hit the ball reasonably flat (a little topspin is ok), rhythmically, fairly low over the net, not trying to hit a winner. This should be a safe shot, providing you pick the right amount of pace, which should be quite firm but well within your own safety zone.

    If you pick the right amount of pace and keep the height low enough, you can lure the opponent (well, if he's a club player without a huge amount of wrist movement in his shots) into using your pace and hitting a similar low ball back to you. So he won't be playing like a pusher anymore. Then it just comes down to a hitting battle, somewhat like a practice rally. Which I think the OP will enjoy much more. He will have more pace to use himself.

    I suggest not using too many angles because the OP finds the looped reset ball and the squash slice defence annoying to handle, and angles will induce these shots. Instead I think he should try to give his friend enough pace to use, and when it comes back with nice pace, he could use this pace himself to hit a harder deeper ball that hopefully causes his opponent to mistime the ball.

Naturally staying calm is still a big part of playing a pusher, at any level. They thrive on the opponent becoming frustrated. It's definitely hard to play a pusher if a) you aren't good at attacking high or soft balls, b) you don't finish well at net, and c) you aren't good at taking the ball early to rush the opponent. So I think that hitting firmly enough that the opponent (hopefully) has almost no choice but to hit a firm shot back is a good idea. The key is to make sure the ball is travelling through the opponent's strike zone with speed and also staying reasonably low. It's hard to loop against that shot. That's also why I think the OP should hit more balls close to the opponent to start the rally- when you hit too far from them the ball slows down by the time they run it down and they can then lob easily. He should try to make the match a hitting battle rather than a running battle. If his firm hitting induces a short ball, then he could try for a winner of course.

Last edited by HowardH; May 16th, 2011 at 02:39 PM.
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post #17 of 35 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2011, 05:10 PM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

give up

Originally Posted by Smite View Post
Perseverance not prescription.
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post #18 of 35 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2011, 05:19 PM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

You have to be patient. That is the most important thing. Mix it up. Throw lobs, slices, slow paced balls at them. They may struggle with that and make errors. Just be patient. Play the pushing game until you get a ball you like and pound it for a winner. Come to net. Just mix it up and give them different looks, while you look for the perfect moment to be aggressive to take the point. Controlled aggression.

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post #19 of 35 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2011, 06:32 PM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

It's ATP but watch a replay of Berdych vs Murray from RG last year, perfect example of how to school one in the slowest conditions you'll ever see in a tennis match.

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post #20 of 35 (permalink) Old May 17th, 2011, 04:48 AM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Learning how to beat pushers is a rite of passage to higher levels of tennis play. I could write a book on the subject.
The most important thing to know is you will NOT overpower a pusher. Not at recreational level. At that level, you don't have consistently controlled power to have a favourable winners:error ratio.

You have to be patient, consistent and play your strength to your opponent weakness. There is no one way to beat a pusher as there is no standard pusher. They all come in different varieties but the one thing they will all do is allow you to play your game. They will not overpower you or rob you of time to set up for your shots.
The match is in your hands. Each loss to a pusher lets you know what you need to work on. If I were you, I would keep playing your friend until you beat him of your own merit. He will make you a better player.
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post #21 of 35 (permalink) Old May 17th, 2011, 05:36 AM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Come to net and force them to hit a winner or a lob. This only works if you can volley, though.
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post #22 of 35 (permalink) Old May 17th, 2011, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How to play against pushers?

wow! thanks everyone for the advice! (esp. howardh) definitely will try out something different next time.

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post #23 of 35 (permalink) Old May 18th, 2011, 02:09 AM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Originally Posted by Randy H View Post
Take the ball early, and use the angles of the court.
Just to elaborate a little more on this - The key is to find ways to take time away from your opponent, and to find the openings in the court. You don't need pure power to do this, you just have to be a little creative and willing to try different things.

Most pushers love a big hitter who will try and blast winners corner to corner until they self destruct with errors. How can you break the court open? Use the angles of the court to your advantage. Hit a couple of hard deep shots to get them behind the baseline, and then throw in some angles (especially to the backhand side where it's harder to throw up a moonball stretched out of position).

Another option is to test their ability mid court. A lot of people don't know what to do with a ball that lands around the service line. Either you hit the winner outright, or you either risk being passed, lobbed, or come up with a volley. Dare him to be the one to come up with some aggressive shots in "no man's land".

Don't focus on power, focus on court position and placement You don't have to crush a volley, drop it short and force them to have to hit up on the ball which will give you more sitters for the volleys while they are out of their comfort zone.

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post #24 of 35 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

I feel your pain!

What about bringing him into the net by hitting short-ish balls? If he is a genuine pusher, then he may not be comfortable attacking at all (so you're sort of turning the tables on him)...

On the other hand, if he can push and attack well, then sounds like he's a pretty good player and won't be that easy!
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post #25 of 35 (permalink) Old Jun 15th, 2011, 04:45 PM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Just keep mixing deep, down the line balls with sharp angels and when is occasion there go for clean, fast and powerful winners. Keep also low balls as much as possible so that he can not read what is coming ... if you can manage such style every pusher will be dead tired with trying to retrieve all those bombs back.
PS. but precondition is that you are are also in good form, with good moving and that you like to dominate court.
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post #26 of 35 (permalink) Old Jun 15th, 2011, 06:46 PM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Controlled hitting. Keep them running everywhere, eventually you'll find the angle or he'll be pushed too far out to get back in time. Not hard to risk hitting errors, but go for a foot or two inside either line and use a few dropshots to see how comfortable they are at the net. If they arent then its clear to keep using that tactic.

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post #27 of 35 (permalink) Old Jun 16th, 2011, 01:34 AM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Originally Posted by Beesley View Post
If you still have problems - you should watch how Kvitova def. Wozniacki year ago in Wimbledon or how Maria won her match in Rome.

So, don't even try play like pusher. First pusher will force you to play like he, and then he he will use his expierience in pushing. And believe me. Even pusher will be exhausted after running. So if you have to win, you can sacrifice first set to rushing pusher, and then destroy him in st 2 and 3.
Is this what you're talking about?
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post #28 of 35 (permalink) Old Jun 17th, 2011, 02:28 PM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Originally Posted by TABŮ_SEXY_SHOP View Post
give up
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post #29 of 35 (permalink) Old Jun 23rd, 2011, 02:11 AM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

I was a pusher all my college carrier and the way to beat me was short cross court deep down the line. You want to make player move backwards getting a balance on the backfoot and that will increase a chance to give you nice approach shot opportunity or a mistake. Also the key is to be comfortable at the net. Have somebody to drill you 15 min every day just volleys and overheads. You have to learn to love the net (which doesnt mean you need to be at the net every time, maybe once every 2-3 games and you are good to go)
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post #30 of 35 (permalink) Old Apr 23rd, 2015, 04:04 AM
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Re: How to play against pushers?

Hit through them. Move them corner to corner with well placed but well paced shots.
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