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How to Beat a Pusher in Tennis

Let tennis pros Joe Perez and Kirk Moritz teach you how to beat a pusher in this Howcast video.


Kirk: So the question is, "How does one beat a pusher in tennis?" First of
all, a pusher has nothing to do with drug use. It's just that someone who
plays very steady, plays very safe. Often has good feet. He can get to a
lot of balls and just push the ball back to the other side of the net. He
is playing a very high percentage, very low risk game, and he's waiting
for Joe Perez to beat himself.

Joe Perez: I will do that.

Kirk: So what happens is he challenges your patience. The tendency would be
for Joe to start hitting a little harder to try to end the point sooner,
to take a little bit more risk. And if he's playing at a point where he's
not totally confident the only errors we're seeing are Joe's errors. Because
unless he's hitting a winner that pusher just keeps pushing that ball back
one more time.

Joe: And the frustrating thing, Kirk, is that the pusher rarely hits
anything hard. Like you said, he plays safe. So I'm missing easy shots in
my book. They're easy shots. The ball's just sitting there. I should be
putting it away, and I get nervous or I'm frustrated and angry, and I start
over-hitting the ball. I'm making all kinds of errors, and the pusher is
just licking his chops, happy as a clam, that I'm pulling my hair out
because I can't beat this guy who is just pushing the ball over the net.

Kirk: Right. You feel like your tennis game just went down three levels,
but there are ways to attack that pusher. Typically, the pusher doesn't
like coming to the net. So one of the ways we're going to beat the pusher
is bring him to the net, either hitting drop shots or short stuff. And when
we're not bringing him to the net we are coming to the net. Alright. So we
have to change the rhythm of it.

The pusher is used to move side to side. We have to make the pusher feel
like the length of the court is an albatross for him. We're going to drag
him up. If he comes to the net we're going to make him hit that volley
because he probably doesn't have one. Alright.

So the last bit of advice to beat that pusher is when you come to the net
prior to playing that match with the pusher practice your overhand because
he's going to throw the ball up in the air when you show up at the net.

Joe: That's right. And so what Kirk generally just described also is you that want to, what I call, hit through a pusher. If you develop your aggressive, offensive
game you bring the person up and then you pass them or lob them with an
offensive lob, because they're probably going to run back an easy lob
because they can run very fast. So try to hit through a pusher. That's
another way to beat a pusher, okay? But in any case, you're going to have
to execute, you're going to have to be steady, and you're have to be ready
for a battle because a pusher is going to hit everything back.

Kirk: And the final thing with that pusher is move your feet. He's hitting
it softly. You have time to get into great position for most of the balls
because he's not hitting fast. So if you get in good position you can take
a comfortable aggressive swing without being out of control.

Joe: Right. So that's how you beat a pusher.

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