How To Beat A Pusher In Tennis

One of the toughest players to face in tennis is the Pusher! He or she’s biggest weapon is simply to get one more ball back in play. No pace, no flash, just good ole no power tennis. A pusher takes solace in you failing rather than they hitting winners. The more shots they execute, the closer you are to your inevitable tennis death. It can be heart wrenching to watch yet so beautiful in it’s simplicity. Are you a tennis pusher? Do you struggle against a pusher? Here are a few tennis tips on how to beat a tennis pusher.

1) The 5 Ball Rule
Remember that the Pusher in tennis relies on you making errors.  Being patient is of the up most importance when playing this style of player.  I like my players to incorporate the 5 Ball Rule.  They are not allowed to go for a winner until they execute 5 balls in play.  Now, if they receive a short, weak ball early in the rally I do give them the green light to move forward and attack.  The only issue is that 5 balls can seem like an eternity and every ball seems like a big juicy attack ball.  The ball you receive has no pace and often times will land short.  Precede with caution, a pusher doesn’t mind that you hit hard to the corners.  She moves effortlessly and usually is in good shape.  She doesn’t have a problem running down balls and putting them into play. Similar to Nadal or Djokovic but not with all the muscles!
2) Party at the net
The net can often times be a player’s nemesis.  Many players only get to the net to shake hands at the conclusion of a match.  Their comfort zone is at the baseline.  I like to teach an all court game.  Players need to win from all areas of the court.  Getting to the net against a pusher is imperative.  You know going into the match that you receive a lot of short balls.  Be prepared to take these weak balls and move forward.  Be cautious, a pusher has no problem with you coming to the net.  They actually like a target.  
3) Hit behind them
A power baseliner has zero tolerance for another ball coming back. They really do want to end the point in the shortest time possible. Patience is not one their strong points. Knowing that, make it goal to run every ball down and return it. You obviously have to be in good shape and not get disappointed when a few winners are zipped passed you. Make it a goal to make at least 5 shots on every point. It may take more than 5 balls to win the point but no worries, it’s a marathon, not a sprint against this style of player.
4) Bring them to the party
Power baseliners are usually rhythm players. They like to get into a flow, continue to pound you with their power and depth. Make it a goal to never show them the <spanstyle=”font-weight: bold;”=””>same ball twice. That means mixing up your pace, spin, depth and height of the ball. One drill that I conduct with my students is to have them vary the first two shots of any rally. They achieve this by changing the variables I mentioned above. They may hit one topspin shot followed by a ball that is sliced. The same can be done with the height, depth or pace of a ball.</spanstyle=”font-weight:>
5) Down the middle solves the riddle
You want to talk about changing things up, how about going to the net? A power baseliner enjoys having the freedom of hitting deep to the corners. When you approach the net, they may become uncomfortable. In order to pass you, they may try and keep the ball a bit lower, forcing them to hit more shots into the net. Forget about them lobbing, they probably don’t have a lob in their game. There are obviously exceptions to this rule but not many. One other thing to consider. If you can place your approach shot into a corner and get them out of position, your next volley only has to be average because by them hitting hard, the ball gets to your quick, leaving them out of position.
I would be interested in your thoughts. What experiences have you had with Power Baseliners? Is there anything I left out in this article that may help someone beat this type of player? If you are a Power Baseliner, what types of players do you dislike? Please share your thoughts with the readers.