Pusher (tennis)

Pusher (tennis)

In tennis, a pusher is a player who "pushes" back any shot they can chase down, without deliberately hitting a winner. This style of play, likened to a "human backboard", often tires and frustrates more skilled opponents. Pushers tend to have great success at the 3.0 and 3.5 NTRP rating levels.Fact|date=July 2008 However, they are usually easily beaten by players with an NTRP rating of 4.0 and up, as higher level players can hit more aggressively and often possess serve-and-volley skills which rob pushers of the time they require to chase down a shot. Like their style of play, a pusher's mental approach to the game is deliberately contentious.

The pusher's strategy can sometimes be effective even at the upper levels of the pro game. Brad Gilbert is often referred to as the greatest pusher of all time, reaching the top 10 in 1990. [ [http://www.atptennis.com/3/en/players/playerprofiles/?playernumber=G016 ATPtennis.com - Player Profiles - Brad Gilbert] ]


Playing pushers, especially in the lower levels of competition, can be difficult for players unaccustomed to their style. However, there are several counter-strategies players use to defeat a pushers.

First, players try to never let the pusher see them frustrated. A pusher's mental game is very important to them [cite web|title=Tennis Server - Turbo Tennis - Junkyard Tennis: How to Play the "Pusher"|url=http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_98_7.html|accessdate=2008-07-17] , and an opponent who is obviously tired and angry will make them more confident. Players need to stay calm and focused to outlast and beat pushers.

In a similar vein, pushers will often complain loudly to themselves when losing, occasionally with the intent of rattling their opponent. To counter this, players must either ignore the outbursts, or train themselves to be encouraged by it.

Some pushers will go to lengths attempting to psychologically abuse their opponents. In order to trip up a player, a pusher may deliberately question the score and line calls; players counter this by clearly denoting their line calls and by loudly and obviously stating the score before each point. Not only will this give the pusher fewer opportunities to act confused, but will also help the player's case if a referee's intervention is required. [cite web|title=Tennis Server - Turbo Tennis - When "Push" Comes to Shove|url=http://www.tennisserver.com/turbo/turbo_05_10.html|accessdate=2008-07-17]

A quick serve-and-volley game is the hardest strategy for a pusher to beat; it forces them to cede control of the point early, and lowers the time they will have to react to shots. Hitting a moonball to a pusher's backhand side will often force them to hit a lob, allowing a relatively leisurely overhead to end the point. In some cases, players may be able to outlast the pusher by hitting several cross-court strokes and waiting for the pusher to hit a ball that can be volleyed away.


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