How To Beat A Pusher In Tennis: Strategies & Tips

As a tennis coach, one of the most common challenges I see players face is defeating “pushers” on the court. Pushers are players who rely on consistency and placement rather than power to win points. They often frustrate opponents by returning every ball and making it difficult to hit winners. However, with the right strategies and mindset, you can beat a pusher and take control of the game.

In this article, we will explore effective strategies and tips for defeating pushers in tennis. We will examine both technical aspects of playing against them, such as shot selection and footwork, as well as mental strategies for staying focused and confident during the match. By mastering these techniques, you will be able to overcome even the most stubborn pusher on the court and achieve your full potential as a tennis player.

Understanding The Pusher Playstyle

The pusher playstyle is one of the most challenging to beat in tennis. This type of player relies heavily on consistency and patience to wear down their opponents, rather than overpowering them with aggressive shots. Pushers often have a defensive mindset, staying on the baseline and returning every ball with deep, high-arcing shots. They are also known for using slice shots to disrupt their opponents’ rhythm.

One common mistake that players make when facing a pusher is becoming frustrated and impatient. It’s essential to remember that pushing back against a pusher’s playstyle will likely result in unforced errors and mental exhaustion. Instead, players should focus on maintaining their composure, playing smart tennis, and waiting for opportunities to attack.

Another mistake that players make is underestimating the pusher’s abilities. Many people assume that because they lack power or aggression, pushers are not talented players. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Pushers are often incredibly skilled at moving around the court and returning difficult shots with ease.

To beat a pusher effectively, it’s crucial to analyze your opponent’s weaknesses thoroughly. Every player has areas where they struggle more than others, and identifying these weaknesses can help you build a winning strategy. In the next section, we will discuss how to analyze your opponent’s game plan effectively and use it to your advantage during matches.

Analyzing Your Opponent’s Weaknesses

As a tennis player, it is essential to analyze your opponent’s weaknesses to gain an advantage during the match. One way to do this is by paying attention to their body language as they prepare for each shot. Analyzing their posture, footwork, and racket position can give you insight into their tendencies and preferred shots. By observing these aspects of your opponent’s game, you can anticipate their next move and prepare accordingly.

Another way to analyze your opponent is by identifying their shot patterns. This involves paying attention to the type of shots they tend to use in certain situations, such as returning a serve or hitting a baseline shot. Once you have identified these patterns, you can adjust your positioning on the court and anticipate where the ball will be hit. This will allow you to react quickly and get into position for a better chance at returning the shot.

It is also important to pay attention to how your opponent reacts under pressure. Do they become flustered when facing a challenging shot or losing points? Or do they remain focused and composed? Analyzing their behavior in these situations can give you insight into how best to approach the match strategically.

By analyzing your opponent’s weaknesses through body language, shot patterns, and reactions under pressure, you can develop a game plan that plays into those weaknesses. In the next section, we will discuss how to use this information to create a strategic plan that maximizes your strengths while exploiting your opponent’s weaknesses for maximum success on the court.

Developing A Game Plan

Analyzing your opponent’s weaknesses is just the beginning. Developing a game plan to exploit those weaknesses and create opportunities is where the true challenge lies. It’s like building a puzzle, where each piece represents a different shot or tactic that you can use to gain an advantage over your opponent. By strategically placing these pieces together, you can construct a winning strategy.

The first step in developing a game plan is identifying the weaknesses of your opponent. This could be anything from their footwork to their backhand stroke. Once you have identified these weaknesses, it’s important to assess your own strengths and determine how you can use them to exploit your opponent’s vulnerabilities.

One effective way to exploit weaknesses is by varying your shots. This means mixing up your pace, spin, and placement of the ball to keep your opponent off-balance. For example, if your opponent struggles with high balls, try hitting more lobs and topspin shots. Similarly, if they struggle with low balls, hit more slice shots and drop shots.

Creating opportunities also involves taking calculated risks. This means being willing to take chances when presented with an opening, whether it’s going for a winner or attacking the net. But it’s important not to get too caught up in trying to hit flashy shots or take unnecessary risks. Stick with what works and focus on playing within yourself.

By following these strategies for developing a game plan, you will be well on your way to beating pushers on the court. Remember that success comes from exploiting weaknesses and creating opportunities through smart shot selection and calculated risk-taking. So vary your shots and stay focused on executing your game plan with precision and confidence.

Varying Your Shots

  1. To beat a pusher in tennis, groundstrokes should be hit deep with topspin, and at an angle away from the opponent to open up the court.
  2. It is also beneficial to use slice shots to keep the ball low and away from the opponent’s reach.
  3. Drop shots can be used to surprise the opponent and make them move out of position, which can open up the court for a winner.
  4. Utilizing a combination of deep groundstrokes, slice shots, and drop shots can make it difficult for an opponent to anticipate the next shot.
  5. Variation in shot selection is key to beating a pusher; mixing up the shots allows the player to keep the opponent guessing and off balance.
  6. By varying the shots and using strategic placement, a player can take control of the point and outmaneuver the pusher.


To beat a pusher in tennis, mastering groundstrokes is crucial. Footwork drills are essential to improve your footwork, which is an integral part of hitting effective groundstrokes. Quick and precise footwork allows you to get into the right position to hit your shots accurately. Incorporate footwork drills into your training sessions, such as the ladder drill where you step in and out of each rung of the ladder with both feet or the cone drill where you move around cones placed in a specific pattern.

Shot selection strategies are also vital when playing against a pusher. Varying your shots helps to keep your opponent off-balance and unable to predict your next move. One effective shot selection strategy is hitting high-bouncing balls deep into the court, which forces the pusher to retreat and play defensively. Another strategy is hitting low slices or drop shots that require them to come forward, putting them out of their comfort zone.

Using different types of groundstrokes can help you vary your shots and throw off a pusher’s rhythm. For example, mix up forehand topspins with backhand slices or drop shots. This gives your opponent different looks and forces them to adjust their game plan accordingly. Additionally, changing up the pace of your shots can be effective – slowing down after a series of fast-paced rallies can throw off a pusher who has become used to playing at one consistent speed.

In conclusion, mastering groundstrokes with efficient footwork drills and incorporating shot selection strategies are key elements in beating a pusher in tennis. Use various types of groundstrokes, including topspins, slices, drop shots, and changing up the pace of your shots frequently during matches will keep your opponent guessing and make it difficult for them to maintain their defensive style consistently. By employing these strategies effectively, you’ll be able to take control of points against even the toughest opponents on court!

Slice Shots

To beat a pusher in tennis, it’s essential to have a versatile game that can disrupt their rhythm and force them out of their comfort zone. One way to achieve this is by varying your shots, particularly with slice shots. Slice shots offer several benefits that can help you gain the upper hand in matches.

Firstly, slice shots are low-bouncing shots that can be challenging for pushers to handle. The ball trajectory is different than typical groundstrokes, making it difficult for them to anticipate where the ball will bounce. Secondly, slice shots can pull your opponent out of position by forcing them to move forward or backward quickly. This opens up space on the court for you to hit winners or put your opponent on the defensive.

Perfecting the slice shot requires practice and patience. Start by using your non-dominant hand on the racket handle to ensure a continental grip, which allows for better control over the racket face angle. When hitting a slice shot, aim to brush under the ball with an upward motion while keeping your wrist firm and steady throughout the swing.

Incorporating slice shots into your game plan against pushers can make all the difference in breaking down their defense and winning points. Use them as a surprise tactic when your opponent least expects it or as a consistent shot that keeps them off balance throughout the match.

Remember that mastering slice shots takes time and effort but is well worth it when playing against opponents who rely heavily on defensive play styles like pushers. With practice and patience, you’ll be able to incorporate this shot effectively and take control of points during matches.

Drop Shots

As a tennis player, it’s crucial to have a versatile game that can adapt to different opponents and situations. One way to achieve this is by varying your shots, which can disrupt your opponent’s rhythm and force them out of their comfort zone. In addition to slice shots, drop shot techniques can also be useful in achieving this goal.

Drop shots are low-bouncing shots that require precision and finesse. They involve hitting the ball with an exaggerated upward motion to create backspin and cause the ball to drop abruptly over the net. Drop shots can be particularly effective against opponents who are more comfortable at the baseline, as they force them to move forward quickly and put them off balance.

When considering when to use drop shots, it’s important to remember that they should not be used excessively or predictably. Instead, use them as a surprise tactic when your opponent least expects it or when they are out of position. Additionally, drop shots are most effective when hit from a neutral or defensive position on the court.

Mastering drop shot techniques takes practice and patience. Start by ensuring you have a continental grip on your racket handle for better control over the racket face angle. When hitting a drop shot, aim to brush under the ball with an upward motion while keeping your wrist firm and steady throughout the swing.

Incorporating drop shots into your game plan against certain opponents can give you an edge in matches. Remember to use them sparingly and strategically for maximum effectiveness. With practice and patience, you’ll be able to incorporate this shot effectively into your playing style and take control of points during matches.

Using Angles And Spin

Mastering topspin and using slice shots are two effective strategies for beating a pusher in tennis. Topspin is a technique where players hit the ball with a higher rotation, causing it to dip sharply over the net, making it difficult for the opponent to return. This strategy works well against pushers as they tend to stand far behind the baseline, making them vulnerable to high bouncing balls. Practicing topspin regularly can help players gain more control over the shot and increase their chances of winning.

Another useful strategy is using slice shots. Slice shots are hit with an underspin that causes the ball to skid low after landing on the court. This makes it difficult for pushers to return as they usually prefer hitting balls at waist height or above. Slicing also allows players to change up their rhythm and pace, throwing off their opponents’ timing and forcing them out of position. Incorporating slice shots into your game plan can give you an edge over pushers.

It’s important to note that mastering topspin and using slice shots require proper technique and practice. Players must focus on brushing up on the ball when hitting topspin shots and keeping their wrist firm but relaxed when slicing. Practice drills like hitting cross-court forehands with topspin or slicing backhands down the line can help players improve these techniques.

Incorporating angles and spin into your game plan is crucial when facing a pusher in tennis. However, these strategies are not foolproof, and players must remain patient and focused throughout the match. In the next section, we’ll discuss another tactic that can help players beat pushers – approaching the net.

Approaching The Net

Using angles and spin can be a great way to beat a pusher in tennis. However, another effective strategy is approaching the net. By coming to the net, you take away your opponent’s time and force them to hit more difficult shots.

When approaching the net, it is important to have good volley techniques. Your volleys should be compact with a short backswing and quick follow-through. Keep your wrist firm yet flexible, and use your non-dominant hand for balance.

When hitting volleys at the net, aim for depth rather than power. A deep volley will put pressure on your opponent and make it harder for them to return the ball effectively. Additionally, hitting with depth gives you more margin for error while still allowing you to maintain control of the point.

Another benefit of approaching the net is that it allows you to cut off angles and hit more aggressive shots. By taking away space from your opponent, you force them to hit tougher shots that are more likely to result in errors or weak returns.

Incorporating net approaches into your game can be a game-changer when facing a pusher in tennis. With proper technique and an emphasis on hitting with depth, you can take control of points and put yourself in a position to win matches. Hitting with depth will not only give you more opportunities at the net but also keep your opponent on their toes as they try to return your well-placed volleys.

Hitting With Depth

As the pusher constantly tries to keep you at the baseline, hitting with depth is a crucial strategy to effectively counter their game plan. Deep shot placement forces your opponent to move back, giving you enough time to recover and position yourself for the next shot. This also helps in neutralizing their shots and reducing their ability to control the points. To execute this strategy, aim for the middle of the court or towards the corners as it requires more effort from your opponent to retrieve those shots.

Attacking short balls is another way of hitting with depth. When your opponent hits a weak or short ball, take advantage of it by hitting a powerful shot deep into their court. It prevents them from taking control of the point and forces them into defensive play. This also gives you an opportunity to move forward for an offensive shot if needed.

Mixing up pace and changing the rhythm are additional ways of implementing this strategy effectively. Varying your shots between slow-paced and fast-paced ones can disrupt your opponent’s timing and make it difficult for them to anticipate your shots. A change in rhythm can also throw off their focus and momentum, giving you an advantage in controlling the pace of play.

Incorporating these tactics into your game will require practice and patience, but will ultimately lead to success against pushers on court. Practicing proper footwork is essential in executing these strategies correctly. In the subsequent section, we will discuss how improving upon footwork can enhance your overall game plan against pushers on court.

Practicing Your Footwork

Footwork is one of the essential components in tennis. Besides improving your stamina and speed, it enables you to cover a significant portion of the court and hit back those pesky push shots. To achieve this level of proficiency, engaging in footwork drills is vital. A coach can help you develop and execute drills that focus on agility, speed, and balance.

Agility is critical in tennis because it allows you to change direction quickly while maintaining balance. You can perform various drills that involve jumping over cones or running around them. These exercises improve your foot coordination and overall body control. Similarly, ladder drills enhance your quickness and help you learn how to move your feet rapidly.

The importance of agility cannot be overstated because it enables you to cover more ground on the court with ease, making it harder for the pusher to catch you off-guard. The faster and more efficiently you move, the more likely you are to return their shots effectively.

To become an effective player against pushers, it’s crucial to practice patience and remain focused during matches. This requires self-discipline and mental toughness since pushers aim to frustrate their opponents by prolonging rallies. However, with consistent practice of footwork drills that improve your agility, stamina, speed, balance, and coordination skills coupled with mental fortitude training, you will be able to stay patient and focused throughout the match.

With these footwork techniques in mind, staying patient and focused becomes much easier as they allow for swift movement around the court while maintaining balance at all times. By incorporating these strategies into your training routine consistently over time – through dedication – becoming a competent tennis player is achievable!

Staying Patient And Focused

The key to beating a pusher is staying patient and focused. It may seem like an impossible task, but with mental toughness and consistency under pressure, you can outlast even the most frustrating opponent.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that playing against a pusher requires a different mindset than playing against other opponents. You need to be prepared for long rallies and lots of defensive shots. It can be easy to get frustrated and tempted to go for too much too soon, but this is where mental toughness comes into play. Stay calm and focused on your game plan.

Consistency under pressure is also crucial when facing a pusher. They thrive on forcing their opponents into making errors, so it’s important to stay disciplined with your shots. Don’t try to hit winners from difficult positions; instead, focus on keeping the ball in play until you have a clear opportunity to put the ball away.

Another way to stay patient is by using variety in your shots. Mix up the pace and spin of your shots to keep the pusher guessing. This will also help prevent them from settling into a rhythm and controlling the match.

In summary, staying patient and focused is essential when facing a pusher in tennis. Mental toughness and consistency under pressure are key components of this strategy. Remember not to rush your shots and use variety in your game plan. By doing so, you’ll increase your chances of coming out on top against even the most stubborn opponents.

As we move forward, another crucial aspect of beating a pusher is managing your emotions on court.

Managing Your Emotions

Mental preparation is a critical aspect of any tennis match, but especially when facing a pusher. It’s easy to get frustrated and lose focus when your opponent constantly sends the ball back over the net with little pace or power. Therefore, it’s essential to approach the match with a clear mind and a positive attitude. Take time before the game to visualize yourself playing well and executing your game plan successfully.

Maintaining composure is equally important when playing against a pusher. It’s crucial not to let frustration take over and affect your performance. Remember that while their style of play may be frustrating, they are not doing anything illegal or unethical. Take deep breaths between points, focus on your breathing, and try to stay in the present moment rather than getting lost in negative thoughts about the past or future.

One way to keep your emotions in check is by having a specific plan for how you want to play against the pusher. Having a clear strategy can give you more confidence and help you stay focused during the match. For example, you might decide that you will aim for shorter angles or try to hit more drop shots. By focusing on executing your strategy rather than getting upset about their style of play, you can maintain control over your emotions.

In summary, mental preparation and maintaining composure are crucial when playing against a pusher in tennis. Approaching the match with a clear mind, visualizing success, and having a specific strategy can all help keep frustration at bay during the game. By staying focused on executing your plan instead of getting upset about their style of play, you can put yourself in a better position to win the match.

As we move forward in this discussion on beating pushers in tennis matches, adjusting your serve is an important next step towards gaining an upper hand as it allows for greater control over points from start to finish.

Adjusting Your Serve

As the famous idiom goes, “you can’t win a match without winning your serve”. This holds particularly true when playing against a pusher who will try to wear you down with their consistent and persistent shots. One of the keys to beating a pusher is adjusting your serve.

Different types of serves can be used to keep a pusher off balance. A kick serve, for example, can be effective in disrupting a pusher’s rhythm as it bounces high and away from them, making it difficult for them to return. Alternatively, a slice serve can also be useful as it stays low and away from the pusher’s strike zone.

However, regardless of which type of serve you choose to use, consistency is key. It is important to ensure that your serves are landing in the court and not going out or hitting the net. This will not only prevent giving any free points to your opponent but also allow you to dictate play and keep control of the match.

In addition to being consistent with your serving placement, varying the speed and spin on your serves can also make it more difficult for a pusher to adjust. By incorporating different types of serves into your game plan and maintaining consistency in your serving, you can gain an advantage over your opponent and set yourself up for success.

With adjustments made in serving technique, you now have an opportunity to play to your strengths against a pusher. The subsequent section will cover how focusing on what you do well rather than trying to beat them at their own game can help turn the tide in your favor.

Playing To Your Strengths

Identifying your weaknesses and maximizing your strengths are crucial strategies for beating a pusher in tennis. As a player, it is important to know your limitations and work on improving them. Analyze your game and identify areas where you struggle against pushers. Is it their ability to keep the ball in play? Their consistency? Their ability to change direction quickly? Once you have identified these weaknesses, work on refining those skills through practice drills.

Maximizing your strengths is equally important in beating a pusher. If you have a strong serve, use it to your advantage by aiming for the corners of the service box or going for an ace. If you have good footwork, use it to move around the court quickly and get into position early for shots. Having a strong forehand or backhand can also be an advantage when playing against a pusher.

In order to effectively play to your strengths, it is important to maintain focus throughout the match. Don’t let frustration get the best of you if a pusher keeps returning shots that would normally be winners. Instead, stay composed and continue playing to your strengths. Remember that consistency is key when playing against a pusher and that maintaining patience during long rallies can pay off in the end.

Identifying weaknesses and maximizing strengths are key strategies for beating a pusher, but they are not enough on their own. In our next section, we will discuss how anticipating your opponent’s shots can help you take control of the match and ultimately emerge victorious against even the toughest pushers on the court.

Anticipating Your Opponent’s Shots

Being able to anticipate your opponent’s shots is a critical skill in tennis. It can help you read their intentions, react more quickly, and position yourself better on the court. However, it requires a combination of mental preparation and reading body language.

Reading body language is an essential part of anticipating your opponent’s shots. You must learn how to recognize different cues that indicate where your opponent may be hitting the ball. For example, if they turn their shoulders towards one side or lean forward, they are likely going to hit the ball in that direction. Similarly, if they glance at a particular spot on the court or adjust their grip, it may indicate their intended shot.

Mental preparation is equally important when anticipating your opponent’s shots. You need to be fully focused on the game and aware of every detail happening on the court. By doing so, you can pick up various patterns in your opponent’s play style and predict their next move more easily.

To improve your ability to anticipate your opponent’s shots effectively, consider these tips:

  • Watch professional tennis matches and observe how players move and position themselves before making a shot.
  • Practice playing against different opponents with varying play styles.
  • Focus on keeping a calm mind during matches to ensure you don’t miss any crucial cues from your opponents.

In conclusion, anticipating your opponent’s shots requires both mental and physical skills. By paying attention to body language cues and practicing mental preparation techniques, you can improve this vital aspect of your game significantly. The following section will explore how adapting to different court surfaces can improve your overall performance on the court.

Adapting To Different Court Surfaces

As a tennis player, it’s important to be able to adapt your game plan based on the specific court surface you are playing on. Each surface has its own unique advantages and disadvantages that can impact your strategy and overall performance. In this section, we will explore some of the key differences between various court surfaces and provide tips for adjusting your game accordingly.

The most common court surfaces in tennis are clay, grass, and hard courts. Clay courts are known for being slow and providing high bounces, which can make it easier to hit spin shots. Grass courts, on the other hand, are fast and low-bouncing, which favors players with serve-and-volley styles. Hard courts fall somewhere in between, with medium speed and bounce. Understanding these differences is crucial when adapting your game plan.

To adjust your game plan based on the court surface, start by considering your strengths as a player. If you have a strong serve or like to play aggressively at the net, grass courts may be advantageous for you. If you prefer to rally from the baseline or use spin shots to control the pace of play, clay courts may be more suitable. On hard courts, it’s important to have a balanced approach that incorporates both aggressive and defensive tactics.

In summary, being able to adjust your game plan based on the court surface is an essential skill for any tennis player looking to improve their performance. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different surfaces and adapting your style accordingly, you can increase your chances of success on any court. In the next section, we will discuss how reviewing your performance and progress can help you continue to develop as a player.

Reviewing Your Performance And Progress

As a tennis player, it is important to continuously monitor your performance and progress in order to identify areas that need improvement. Setting goals is an effective way to focus on specific aspects of your game and track your progress over time. When setting goals, it is important to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance, you can set a goal of improving your percentage of successful returns against pushers by 10% within the next three months.

Tracking progress involves regularly evaluating your performance against the set goals. This helps you identify any areas where you are falling behind or making improvements. You can track progress through various means such as keeping records of match statistics or working with a coach who provides regular feedback on your performance. By tracking progress, you can measure whether you are meeting the set goals and identify any adjustments that may be necessary.

It is also important to celebrate milestones along the way as this helps maintain motivation and reinforces positive behavior. Celebrating small wins like winning a point against a pusher or successfully returning their serve can help build confidence and keep you motivated to continue working towards achieving your set goals.

In summary, reviewing your performance and progress when playing against pushers requires setting specific goals that are measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound; tracking progress using various means such as match statistics or feedback from a coach; celebrating milestones along the way; and making adjustments where necessary. By doing this consistently over time, you will improve not only against pushers but also in other areas of your game.


The pusher playstyle in tennis can be frustrating to deal with, but there are strategies and tips that can help you beat this opponent. It starts with understanding the pusher’s strengths and weaknesses and analyzing your own game to develop a plan of attack. Varying your shots, using angles and spin, playing to your strengths, and anticipating your opponent’s shots are all important elements of this game plan.

As you adapt to different court surfaces, remember that reviewing your performance and progress is critical to continued improvement. It takes practice and discipline to beat a pusher in tennis, but with the right mindset and techniques, you can outsmart them on the court.

As a professional tennis coach, it’s important to emphasize that beating a pusher requires more than just hitting harder or faster. It requires patience, strategy, and a deep knowledge of the game. By analyzing your opponent’s weaknesses and developing a flexible game plan that allows for variations in shot selection, angle placement, and spin manipulation, you can effectively neutralize their defensive playstyle.

One effective technique is to use soft shots that force the pusher out of position or disrupt their rhythm. Another approach is to anticipate their shots by reading their body language or patterns of movement on the court. Additionally, playing to your own strengths by focusing on aggressive serves or net play can put pressure on the pusher and force them into making mistakes.

Ultimately, beating a pusher in tennis requires a combination of mental toughness, physical skill, and strategic thinking. By honing these skills through practice and analysis of your own performance over time across different match situations including varying court surfaces , you can achieve success against even the toughest opponents.