Gilles Simon can be described as a pusher in professional tennis

5 tips to beat a pusher

Playing against a ´pusher´ can be a real nightmare, I´ve seen it and faced them a lot over the years.

I can´t count the following complaints from players that lost against a ´pusher´ player.

  • That was the worst match I have played in my entire tennis career!
  • I can´t believe I just lost from this opponent, he is such a terrible player!
  • I normally play much better than this, their boring way of playing tennis really brings my level down……..

During the match you might have witnessed the following: you saw this player´s racquet fly through the air and most likely you will hear this player say some words that we absolutely don´t want to repeat on this blog 🙂

Many angry reactions from players when playing against a pusher

I can go on and on about players that complain about ´pushers´, but that won´t help you beat them! As always, we got you covered!

How do you recognize a ´pusher´?

This player´s game is all about a consistant defensive game. They usually wait for their opponent to do make a mistake. Players with this playing style play very high percentage tennis and that´s what makes them so difficult to beat for most of us. The will almost never go for a winner, very rarely. The better players with this game style are very hard to beat because they try to keep their shots close to the baseline, play their shots wisely and maybe the most important, they are often very fit and fast.

Possible characteristics: 

  • Consistant groundstrokes
  • Mentally tough
  • Very fit and moves well from side to side
  • No real weapons to end a point
  • Often not comfortable at the net

Preferred surfaces:

  • Clay
  • Slow hardcourts

So how can you beat a ´pusher´?

  • Be patient!

Even though pushers will do everything to get every ball back, their shots usually won´t hurt you. Try to be very patient on how to you build the point and wait for the right time to go for an approach shot or a winner. 

If you rush things to much against a pusher, you will definately get punished for that. Rushing your game is exactly what a pusher wants you to do!

  • Attack the net

Pushing forward towards the net will take away time from your opponent, it may force some errors to your opponent.

They usually aren´t able to play great passing shots, but the might be able to play good lobs. If that´s the case, there are some good approaches to decrease the chance of getting lobbed.

Pushers don´t seem to play a lob on the return of serve very often. So serve and volley is a great idea!

Even if they will try to lob you, it´s ok. Since you won´t be so close to the net yet after your serve, you won´t have to run all the way back to catch the lob.

Another way to find a way to get to the net is to play chip and charge on hteir serve. By slicing the return, the ball will stay low and that will take away even more reaction time from your opponent.

  • Step in on the serve

Pushers often have a very average serve, both in terms of spin and speed. 

You want to put pressure on your opponent serve by stepping more inside the court on the return of serve.

The mistake that many players make when returning a serve against a pusher is overhitting. They try to hit the return of serve way too powerful or very close to the lines. Don´t make this mistake! The best advice would be to hit the ball just a bit harder than the speed of the serve. This way, you will maintain ful control of the ball but also enough speed to damage your opponent.

  • Get the pusher to the net

Pushers are rarely confident or able at the net. They love to play tennis from the baseline, getting into their opponents mind, hitting mostly very slow balls and often with very poor technique! Try to get them infront instead of their happy place far behind the baseline 🙂

This could work:

Rally with your opponent at a comfortable pace, then interrupt the rhythm and play a shorter slice somewhere around the service line. It´s a must for the ball to stay low, so the opponent must pick the ball off their feet. 

At this stage, he/she will feel very vulnerable, knowing that just pushing the ball back in play won´t be enough this time. 

  • Stay focused and stay calm!

From a distance a pusher looks like another easy victim. However, that´s not the reality most of the time. Just as any other match, focus on every ball! Even if you are leading the match 6-0, 5-0 – losing your focus and or getting angry against especially a pusher, could be fatal.

Leave a Reply