We have all heard this term when watching tennis matches, mostly at a high level and we might have wondered the meaning of the word, pusher in tennis. More importanly, how to beat a pusher in tennis.
What is a pusher in tennis?
Defining a pusher in tennis it’s quite simple. Said so, a pusher is a tennis player that hits back every shot they can reach, not necessarily to score a point.
Normally pushers in tennis are very consistent and aim to force you to do a mistake while playing against them.
HOW TO BEAT A PUSHER
There are some techniques that you can put in place when playing against pushers’ kind of player. They try to return as much as possible, lob you, and give back the ball without weight and moving in the back of the court.
Tactic 1: Slice as much as you can
This would put the pusher out of his routine of returning powerful shots with a lot of speed, slicing the shot will unsettle them.
What to do:
Every time the rally starts and they return your shots modify them and start to slice. This is not the favourite shot of pushers and they will soon try a way to get out of this, often making mistakes.
Tactic 2: Try the drop shot and bring them to the net
Making your opponent running forward is a great idea in order to move to move them around the court where they don’ feel comfortable and they might give you free points.
What to do:
Play from the back of the court and start a rally for few shots till you see they get comfortable and then slice your shot with a long hit before the drop shot.
Tactic 3: Vary as much as you can your shots:
The technique of breaking their routine of strong shots to be returned can always work, especially if they aren’t well prepared on all round tennis game.
What to do: Start to play backhands for few shots and try tom keep your opponent on one angle with deep shots then suddenly attack him on his forehead and invite him to the net with a drop. Following this try to complete the point or to lob him if he/she will stay in the net area after the drop.
Tactic 4: Try the serve and volley
With these type of players, the pushers, you have the opportunity to play serve and volley quite often as they won’t come towards the net with good consistency, leaving you the chance to close the point.
What to do:
When you develop a strong service or a good sliding technique you can have all the possible advantages to move the opponent on the first serve and come to the net to close the point.
Tactic 5: Hit winners and take time
This sounds easy to say but we meant, hit strong and don’t give them the chance to return. Aim at the angles of the court and move them left to right and vice versa till the start to get tired to chase the ball and start to make mistakes.
What to do:
Other than hit winners as we’ve mentioned the important of varying the timing as you hit the ball against a pusher is fundamental. Try to wait a bit more to hit the ball or do it faster in order to not give them any timing, try to break their timing instead.
HOW TO BEAT A PUSHER WITH MODERN TENNIS FOOTWORK
To beat a pusher as we have seen before you need to apply specific counter moves. Train on your overhead, volleys can be an option but beating a pusher with modern footwork is the best way to do it. In the video you can find a very useful drill to improve:
- Your pace
- Your balance
- Your position
- Get used to moving on all sides of the court
- Increase your footwork speed
WHO IS A PUSHER ON ATP/WTA TOUR
On the tennis ATP tour, there are a few pushers, some very famous to the international audience and others who are developing their style.
Gilles Simon, the French player number 122 of the ranking even if he’s getting old for the circuit at 36 years of age still makes tricky the game against any opponent for his experience and style. He doesn’t have much power on his shots however it can take quite a lot to win a single point.
Another player who is a pusher on the Atp tour was Brad Gilbert who achieved a world’s high number 4 ranking in 1990 and developed his career on being a pusher, great returner making the consistent return of every shot his strength.
Simon and also Gael Monfils, another French player of the great generation who is coming to an end for France is also playing as a pusher sometimes.
In the WTA also great pushers are Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep, both reaching the top of the ranking with this technique while we could argue in the WTA the limited power in the forehead of most women (let’s not mention Serena Williams for a moment).
PUSHER VS COUNTER PUNCHER WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?
As we have discussed above of the pusher player and style of his playing you might be confusing it with the counter puncher but there are main differences. What are they?
The pusher is generally a much more defensive player, he/she loves to stay behind the baseline and return as much as possible while trying to push the opponent to make a mistake. The pusher also doesn’t have the power to attack in most cases so this technique is a must do to survive in the game.
The player who uses a counter puncher style of play instead uses it as a choice. He/she wants you to get in trouble, making mistakes, forcing shots that normally against other players you wouldn’t take, and then giving them free points. But the main difference is that the counter puncher can attack whenever possible so you have also to be careful about it. The counter puncher when you continuously play easy shots from the back of the court will attack and you might get in trouble. So in this case you need to be ready to dictate the tempo in the game at all times.
Final Advice to Beat a Pusher in Tennis
Generally speaking, you always need to attend a tennis match with a good fitness level however against these types of players before mentioned, the pusher and the counter puncher you need to be at your best. They will try at all times to return your shot without attacking, placing themselves in a position behind the baseline and returning most of your shots. So the rule is to develop a strong shot that can end the point ( I.e. Forehead, backhand down the line, service).
Beating a pusher in tennis can be difficult but we gave you some alternatives in the game to choose from. To do this you need to have good preparation on the net game, volleys and so on and then you will have the chance to beat the counter puncher and the pusher in tennis.
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