The dreaded pusher—those players who lob back almost every ball or who don't have a lot of pace and almost never miss—can be miserable to play against.
It can make people crazy trying to play pushers. Just like playing anyone else, there is always a strategy you can take to the court with you to try to counter-attack the counter-puncher.
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Anyone with a NTRP of a 4.0 or higher shouldn't really have any problems beating someone who pushes the ball back. The main reason being is that it takes a variety of skills and execution to successfully beat these types of players.
Many players go into a match against a "pusher" thinking they can destroy these types of players, at least that's what it looks like from the sidelines. You must have respect for these types of players and their game.
They will not make your life easy over the next two to three sets. If you think you can crush someone and they start winning, it makes tennis all the more frustrating, and that's exactly what they want.
1. Don't Play Their Style of Game. Don't allow them to dictate the pace of play and do not start pushing back your shots if it's not your typical game plan.
You cannot beat a pusher by pushing the ball yourself. They're most likely much better at that style of play than you. You also never want the "pusher" to see you angry, stay focused and do not let them have the mental edge.
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2. Get to the Net: "Pushers" usually don't have great passing shots so you should be able to get just about anything they try to pass you with. It's also not their typical style to try to hit hard to pass someone, so it may force the error.
Getting to the net will help you to be more aggressive and cut down your opponent's reaction time. This almost sounds like a bad idea since they may just lob you anyway, but there are some good ways to approach this that will help.
I like to serve and volley when playing these types of players. They usually do not lob back the serve, and even if they do I am not having to run backwards to get the lob since I am not that close to the net yet.
Another great way to find a way to get to the net is to chip and charge off of their serve. This keeps the ball low and cuts down their reaction time.
You can also find the short ball in baseline rallies and hit approach shots to get to the net. It is hard to hit great lobs on short low bouncing balls which will be to your advantage especially if you are coming to the net.
This last way to get to the net is my favorite way to get to the net against these types of players. The sneak attack!
Trade some baseline shots and roll one deep to their forehand or backhand. As they are backing up to hit the ball sneak into the net. Usually what your opponent will hit is a floater which you can take advantage of from the net.