What Is a Pusher in Tennis & How to Beat Them

Tennis is a game of strategy and skill, where different player styles bring unique challenges.

One particular type of player that can be tricky to compete against is known as a “pusher.”

In this article, we will explore what a pusher is in tennis, identify their playing techniques, and provide strategies to defeat them.

What is a Pusher in Tennis?

A pusher in tennis is a defensive player who primarily focuses on returning the ball accurately rather than executing offensive shots.

They rely on consistency, patience, and their opponents’ errors to win points.

Their main goal is to keep the ball in play for as long as possible, forcing the opponent into making mistakes.

Characteristics of a Pusher

Pushers have several identifiable characteristics.

They typically have a good sense of court positioning, which allows them to anticipate their opponent’s shots and return them effectively.

Their emphasis is not on power, but on precision and consistency.

They often utilize a variety of spins, lobs, and dinks to disrupt the rhythm of their opponent.

Moreover, pushers are incredibly resilient and patient, which are key traits for their style of play.

Strategies to Beat a Pusher

While dealing with a pusher can be frustrating, there are strategies that can help tip the scales in your favor.

These methods require a solid understanding of your own playing style and abilities, as well as tactical adjustments to combat the pusher’s strategies.

Play Aggressively

One effective method to beat a pusher is by adopting an aggressive style of play.

Instead of simply returning their shots, look for opportunities to create powerful and well-placed offensive shots.

By adding speed and pressure, you can prevent the pusher from settling into their comfortable, defensive rhythm.

Work on Placement

Pushers are skilled at covering the court and returning shots, so you need to think about placement more than power.

Aiming for the lines, creating sharp angles, and using drop shots can all disrupt a pusher’s rhythm and force them to make more challenging shots.

Improve Your Consistency

Pushers thrive on their opponent’s mistakes, so improving your own consistency can help neutralize their strategy.

Practice hitting a high number of balls in the court without making errors. This will help reduce unforced errors and keep pressure on the pusher.

Implement Variety

Variety is a key element in defeating a pusher.

By frequently changing the pace, spin, and direction of your shots, you can keep the pusher guessing and disrupt their rhythm.

Mixing in slices, topspins, and flat shots can be very effective.

Stay Patient

It’s crucial to remain patient when playing against a pusher.

Their style of play can lead to long rallies, which can be mentally and physically draining. Don’t rush or force shots.

Remember that the pusher’s game is designed to make you lose patience and make errors.

How Do I Stop Being a Tennis Pusher?

If you want to transition away from being a tennis pusher and develop a more well-rounded game, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Assess your playing style: Understand why you have been relying on a pushing style of play. It could be due to a lack of confidence in your aggressive shots or a fear of making errors. Identifying the reasons will help you address them effectively.
  2. Improve your shot variety: Start working on different shots such as topspin groundstrokes, volleys, and overheads. Develop a consistent and effective serve to gain an offensive edge.
  3. Develop your attacking mindset: Shift your mindset from playing defensively to actively seeking opportunities to attack. Look for chances to take control of the point and finish it off rather than waiting for your opponent’s mistakes.
  4. Practice aggression and timing: Work on hitting the ball earlier, taking it on the rise, and generating more power and pace. Practice drills that focus on developing your offensive skills and incorporating aggressive shot selection into your game.
  5. Take risks in matches: During practice matches or competitive play, consciously take calculated risks. Push yourself to go for winners and play more aggressively. Accept that you may make errors in the process but learn from them and adjust your game accordingly.
  6. Seek guidance from a coach: Enlist the help of a qualified tennis coach who can assess your game, identify areas for improvement, and provide tailored training to help you transition from a pusher to a more dynamic player. They can also provide valuable insights and strategies to enhance your game.
  7. Increase physical fitness and conditioning: Being physically fit will enable you to execute more aggressive shots and sustain a higher level of play. Focus on building strength, speed, and endurance through regular fitness training and conditioning exercises.
  8. Practice match play against different opponents: Seek opportunities to play against a variety of playing styles. This will help you adapt your game and test your newly developed skills in different scenarios.
  9. Stay patient and persistent: Transitioning from a pusher to a more aggressive player takes time and practice. Don’t get discouraged by initial setbacks or mistakes. Stay committed to your goals and continue working on developing your game.

By implementing these steps and staying dedicated to improving your game, you can gradually move away from being a tennis pusher and become a more versatile and competitive player.

How Do Elite Players Handle Pushers to Beat Them?

Elite players often have specific strategies and techniques to handle pushers effectively.

Here are some ways elite players beat pushers:

  1. Dictate the pace: Elite players take control of the match by setting the pace and rhythm of the points. They hit aggressive shots with depth, pace, and angles to keep the pusher on the defensive. By dictating the tempo, they prevent the pusher from settling into their comfort zone.
  2. Aggressive shot selection: Elite players aim to hit winners or force errors by taking the initiative with aggressive shot selection. They look for opportunities to attack the weaker shots of the pusher and take risks when necessary to put pressure on their opponent.
  3. Exploit weak shots: Elite players carefully analyze the pusher’s game and identify their weaknesses. They target those weaknesses by attacking vulnerable areas of the court or exploiting the pusher’s limited power. This forces the pusher out of their comfort zone and increases the chances of winning points.
  4. Mix up shots and spin: Elite players use a variety of shots and spins to disrupt the pusher’s rhythm. They incorporate topspin, slice shots, drop shots, and volleys to keep the pusher guessing and prevent them from settling into a consistent defensive pattern.
  5. Approach the net: Elite players approach the net whenever possible to shorten points and put pressure on the pusher. They use well-executed approach shots to force the pusher into difficult passing shots or set up easy volleys.
  6. Stay mentally strong: Elite players remain mentally resilient when facing pushers. They don’t get frustrated by the pusher’s defensive style or prolonged rallies. Instead, they stay focused, maintain a positive mindset, and trust their skills and game plan.
  7. Consistency and patience: Elite players understand that beating a pusher requires patience and consistency. They are willing to engage in long rallies and focus on keeping the ball in play until they create an opening to attack. They avoid going for low-percentage shots and wait for the right opportunities to strike.
  8. Adjust and adapt: Elite players are quick to adapt their game plan during a match. They recognize what works and what doesn’t against a particular pusher and make adjustments accordingly. This flexibility allows them to exploit weaknesses and find effective solutions on the court.
  9. Physical fitness and endurance: Elite players maintain excellent physical conditioning, allowing them to endure extended rallies and stay mentally sharp throughout the match. Their fitness enables them to outlast the pusher and maintain a high level of play.

Overall, elite players combine a strategic approach, aggressive shot-making, mental strength, adaptability, and physical fitness to overcome the challenges posed by pushers and secure victory in matches.

FAQs – Pusher (Tennis)

1. What is a pusher in tennis?

A pusher in tennis is a player who relies heavily on defensive shots and rarely takes aggressive shots to attack their opponent.

They usually employ a strategy of hitting the ball with minimal pace, utilizing short slices, and aiming to keep the ball in play as long as possible.

Pushers often rely on their opponents’ mistakes rather than actively trying to win points themselves.

2. How can I identify a pusher during a tennis match?

Identifying a pusher in a tennis match can be done by observing their style of play.

Pushers tend to hit shots with little power, using slice shots to keep the ball low and induce errors from their opponents.

They focus on consistency rather than aggressive shot-making. They may also try to slow down the pace of the game and extend rallies to frustrate their opponents.

3. What are the challenges of playing against a pusher?

Playing against a pusher can present several challenges for a player.

The slow pace and consistent shots of a pusher can disrupt the rhythm of an aggressive player, making it difficult to generate winners.

Pushers are skilled at retrieving balls and keeping them in play, often leading to longer rallies.

Their focus on defense can frustrate opponents, who may find it challenging to finish points.

It requires patience, precision, and a strategic approach to overcome a pusher’s tactics.

4. How can I beat a pusher in tennis?

To beat a pusher in tennis, it is essential to employ a well-thought-out strategy.

Here are some tips to improve your chances of success:

a) Maintain patience: Pushers thrive on opponents’ errors, so avoid rushing and stay focused throughout the match.

b) Vary your shots: Try mixing up the pace, spin, and depth of your shots to keep the pusher off balance. Alternating between aggressive shots and drop shots can be effective.

c) Use angles: Pushers often prefer to stay in the middle of the court, so try hitting shots wide to open up the court and force them to cover more ground.

d) Approach the net: Pushers generally struggle with shots hit at their feet or shots approaching the net. Use this to your advantage by coming to the net when the opportunity arises.

e) Stay mentally strong: Pushers aim to frustrate their opponents, so maintaining a positive mindset and not getting discouraged by long rallies or defensive shots is crucial.

f) Improve your fitness: Pushers excel at retrieving balls and extending rallies, so being physically fit will help you endure longer points and outlast them if needed.

g) Analyze their weaknesses: Pay attention to the pusher’s weaknesses, such as limited power or difficulty generating pace. Exploit these weaknesses by targeting specific areas of the court or using drop shots.

h) Practice with pushers: Regularly playing against pushers in practice sessions will familiarize you with their style and help you develop strategies to counter their tactics.

Remember, beating a pusher requires adaptability, patience, and a tactical approach rather than relying solely on power or aggression.

5. How can I improve my consistency to counter a pusher’s strategy?

Improving your consistency is crucial when facing a pusher.

Here are some tips to enhance your consistency:

a) Focus on footwork: Good footwork allows you to get into an optimal position to make solid contact with the ball consistently.

b) Practice deep and controlled shots: Work on hitting shots with consistent depth and control. This will make it harder for the pusher to take advantage of short balls.

c) Develop your patience: Avoid going for winners too early in the point. Instead, focus on maintaining a consistent rally and waiting for the right opportunity to attack.

d) Strengthen your defensive skills: Practice defensive shots such as slices and lobs to handle the pusher’s low and slow shots effectively.

e) Work on your mental game: Stay focused, positive, and composed during long rallies. Avoid getting frustrated and making unforced errors due to impatience.

f) Play practice matches against pushers: Regularly playing against pushers will expose you to their style of play and help you develop the necessary consistency to counter their strategy.

Consistency is key when playing against a pusher, as it allows you to stay in control of the point and find opportunities to take control of the match.


A pusher in tennis can be a challenging opponent to face.

They employ a defensive style of play, focusing on consistency and capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes.

To beat a pusher, you need to adjust your strategy. Play aggressively, work on your shot placement and consistency, incorporate variety in your shots, and most importantly, stay patient.

With these tactics, you can effectively counter a pusher’s strategy and improve your chances of winning the match.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *