Singles Strategy: 5 Ways To Beat The Pusher In Tennis

How To Beat The Pusher In Tennis

It’s finally here!. You’re about to discover the secrets on how to beat the pusher in tennis. Let me ask you something, how many matches have you lost to pushers over the years?. Maybe 5, 10, or 20? Have you lost count?.

I’m sure you feel frustrated because you continue losing to that player who does little to nothing. The player who seems to just get the ball back one more time over and over again. Hence, you may be wondering about the best tennis tactics to stop losing to the dreaded pusher. Well, I’m glad you asked. Today, you’ll learn five simple, yet powerful strategies you can use to beat the annoying pusher once and for all.

The harsh reality is that annoying pushers exist at all levels of the game. When you follow these tennis tactics, you will have complete clarity on how to beat a pusher in tennis and won’t feel uncertain anymore. In fact, you’ll start to win more matches and have so much more fun playing tennis. It’s time to reveal the first strategy to beat the pusher.

Are you ready?. Let’s get into it.

Hit The Backhand Slice Short Crosscourt

How to hit a slice backhand

Pushers love standing way back behind the baseline. It is their happy, comfy place to hang out.

With this deep backcourt positioning, pushers can run down more balls and have more time to get back every shot. They thrive on being able to defend against your offensive shots. However, you can expose them, when they stand way behind the baseline, by using the backhand slice short cross court shot.

You can totally break the pusher down with this little known and sneaky shot. But, let me be clear by stressing to don’t hit the slice backhand deep crosscourt. Instead, play this shot short and low over the net with a soft touch. Hence, the pusher has to move forward into the court.

The pusher doesn’t like to move from behind the baseline for dealing with a low sliced ball to the backhand side. They simply don’t want to be forced to reach for a low ball, neither come to the net. Both scenarios often make them feel very vulnerable, which leads to frustration.

Consequently, the key is getting the pusher to do something different and get them out of their comfort zone. Now, let’s move on into the next tennis strategy to use for easily beating the pusher.

Attack the Wimpy Second Serve

How to attach a second serve in tennis

Sometimes the biggest weakness a pusher has is their 2nd serve. Thus, if you do not want to get in long rallies with the pusher, attack their second serve. In fact, it might be the shortest ball you get during a point. Attacking the second serve effectively will put the pusher on the defensive and let you play points on your terms. 

When attacking the second serve, the most important thing to focus on is where you will hit the return. Many coaches will just tell you to be aggressive and attack, but that’s not specific enough. Hence, having a very specific target in mind before you return is critical. 

One of the secrets to crushing a pusher’s weak 2nd serve is imagining seeing a window right above the net strap in the middle of the court. This target allows you to focus on a specific and safe area above the net. Consequently, you can swing aggressively at the ball and give yourself the best chance of making the return.

“Break the Window”

Tennis return of serve tip

By aiming safe and “breaking the window” above the net, you can really let yourself swing aggressively. You can take control of the point with a powerful return that puts the pusher on the defensive immediately. With this first strike, you never let the pusher get into the point flow where they can do their damage.

Now, what if the pusher is smart and makes an adjustment after you start nailing returns against them?. They may move even deeper behind baseline after the serve. However,  you can easily adjust your return strategy to mess with the pusher’s head if that occurs.

Hit Short Angle Returns

Tennis return of serve strategy

If your opponent moves behind the baseline after a weak 2nd serve, you can start hitting devastating topspin angles. Therefore, you can pull them off the court, force them to move wide, and completely unravel them.

Moreover, by hitting an aggressive topspin angled shot, you’ll  surprise the pusher who is normally prepared to handle a deep return. Now that you have four amazing strategies that will help you beat the pusher, here’s a fifth cutting edge tip. This is one way to beat the pusher in a smart fashion.

Hit Angle Approach Shots

How to hit winning approach shots in tennis

I consider that using the angle approach shot can help to beat the pusher. Please understand that the down the line approach shot can be effective against many players. However, it won’t work as well against the pusher who stands several feet behind the baseline.

Here’s why.  If you hit an approach down the line when your opponent is way behind the baseline, they can simply take one or two steps across the court. But, if you hit an angle approach shot, you force the pusher to cover more ground.

The pusher has to run further across the court (move up into the court) to deal with your angled shot. This is tricky for the pusher because they might be forced to hit a floating weak slice back to you. Thus, you’ll be adding that surprise element by angling the approach shot instead of always hitting down the line.  

The pusher will be forced into hitting a low percentage passing shots down the line. Perhaps, they’ll have to hit a defensive ball back through the middle, which you can easily put away.

That’s a wrap. Five powerful strategies on how to beat the pusher in tennis. Now, you can implement these strategies on the practice court. Consequently, you’ll improve your singles game and start winning more matches against this type of opponent. 




By Jeff Salzenstein, Founder Tennis Evolution


Jeff is a former top 100 ATP player and USTA high performance coach committed to helping players and coaches all over the world improve.

P.S. – Ready to take it to the next level with your tennis? Click here to get a free membership (no credit card required) which includes 21 lessons covering all aspects of your tennis ($567 value). Learn the exact step-by-step system that has transformed the games of thousands of players worldwide.


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