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How to Beat a Pusher in Tennis: Outsmarting the Wall

We've all been there—facing an opponent in tennis who doesn't seem to make mistakes. They don’t have flashy shots, they’re not incredibly fast, but somehow, they return every ball you hit. These players, often referred to as 'pushers', can be incredibly frustrating. But fear not! With the right strategies, you can outmaneuver the pusher and turn the game in your favor. Let's delve into how to beat a pusher in tennis.

Understanding the Pusher

Before you can effectively counter a pusher, you need to know what makes them tick:

  1. Consistency: Pushers prioritize getting the ball back over the net over all else.
  2. Mental Fortitude: They often thrive on their opponent's frustration, banking on you making errors.
  3. Defensive Play: Pushers rarely go for winners. Instead, they rely on solid defensive strokes.

Strategies to Outplay a Pusher

  1. Maintain Your Patience: The pusher's game plan revolves around you getting frustrated and making unforced errors. Stay calm and wait for the right opportunity to attack.

  2. Mix Up Your Shots: Use a variety of spins, speeds, and depths. Slice, topspin, drop shots, deep balls – keep them guessing.

  3. Attack the Net: By approaching the net, you can put away volleys and cut off their returns. Pushers often struggle with passing shots under pressure.

  4. Target the Weakness: While pushers can return most shots, they usually have a weaker wing, either forehand or backhand. Identify it and exploit it.

  5. Use Angles: Instead of hitting deep balls, which pushers love, hit sharp angles to pull them out of position.

  6. Practice Overheads: Pushers like to lob, especially when you approach the net. Ensure your smash is on point to punish any weak lobs.

Mental Game is Key

One of the most important aspects when playing against a pusher is maintaining your mental composure:

  1. Stay Positive: A single point isn't the match. Even if the pusher gets a good point, reset and focus on the next one.
  2. Avoid Showing Frustration: Remember, pushers thrive on your visible disappointment. Keep a neutral demeanor.

Fitness and Endurance

Playing against a pusher often results in long rallies. Building your stamina can be beneficial:

  1. Train for Longer Rallies: Incorporate endurance training into your regimen.
  2. Practice Footwork: Ensure you're always in the best position to hit the ball, reducing the chance of errors.


Facing a pusher in tennis requires a blend of mental resilience, physical stamina, and tactical play. While they might not have the powerful serves or flashy winners, they present a unique challenge. However, with the right approach, patience, and a diversified shot selection, you can break down their defense and emerge victorious. Remember, it's not just about overpowering; it's about outsmarting!