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Old 04-23-2013, 09:18 AM   #1
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Default Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

I'm coaching a novice level 12 and under tennis team. This past week, my number one Singles player ran into an issue against a disgusting little pusher on another team. Every time the kid was outclassed in a rally, which happened often, he would resort to hacking at the ball for a slice lob, which my kid had no prior exposure to.

There are multiple ways to handle this shot. But seeing as it's a novice 12 and under team, my kids aren't at the level where they can effectively do so by dropping the back shoulder and hitting up for more topspin or driving through the ball. I tend to think, at their level, that they'd have more success going for something high percentage and easier to accomplish, like a lob of their own if necessary. Playing it like a high volley even yields some success.

Not sure though, as this situation is brand new for me. So I'm wondering if you all have any insight, experience, or advice that might help?

Thanks.
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Old 04-23-2013, 02:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

In the situation you described, forehand slice it back?
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

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In the situation you described, forehand slice it back?
That's the other thing I was considering. But off of a high ball, that's easier than said for a 12 and under because the ball is so out of their comfort zone. It would also require getting behind the ball really well, which is difficult for them to do when they're so panicky about how it'll bounce.


I think in my next practice session with them, I'm gonna feed them some and go through a few different looks.
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

Hitting drive volleys seems to be logically the best for your situation. This way you can forget the bounce altogether and take the initiative in those types of points because the last thing you want to do is play their game.

Against pushers though, when I was younger (perhaps around 12 is when I started encountering a lot of pushers as well), if I was hitting too many errors, I would slice the ball short. If you have a good slice, you can easily draw plenty of errors from your opponent who has to deal with that awkward spin, they would have to generate their own pace and now they are stuck in no man's land which opens many options for you. Of course, like you did mention, they are 12 but I think having an adequate slice backhand developed by that age is not farfetched. But yes, dealing with such underspin can be very tricky for youngsters (which is partly why I was successful when I was younger since my slice backhand was always a really strong shot), however, they can certainly get used to it if you feed them enough sliced shots when going through their groundstrokes.

But yeah, hitting a drive volley on these shots if the pusher is indeed just floating them back with underspin is the best way IMO to tackle such an issue. That is odd though that his opponent chose to float the ball using a slice. Good pushers will load up on the topspin from my experience, which is wayyyyy more difficult for younger players to cope with.
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

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But yeah, hitting a drive volley on these shots if the pusher is indeed just floating them back with underspin is the best way IMO to tackle such an issue. That is odd though that his opponent chose to float the ball using a slice. Good pushers will load up on the topspin from my experience, which is wayyyyy more difficult for younger players to cope with.
Yeah, usually moon-balling is very effective at that age because it exploits their height. To the little pusher's credit, though, he was very good at underspin floaters, and it was troubling because my players (in Singles and Doubles) have had little exposure to that spin, and it really exploited their movement and anticipation, which most kids struggle with at that stage.


I'm with you on the drive volley, and appreciate your logic and reasoning behind it. It's definitely what I'll work to implement the next time I meet with them.
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

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Yeah, usually moon-balling is very effective at that age because it exploits their height. To the little pusher's credit, though, he was very good at underspin floaters, and it was troubling because my players (in Singles and Doubles) have had little exposure to that spin, and it really exploited their movement and anticipation, which most kids struggle with at that stage.


I'm with you on the drive volley, and appreciate your logic and reasoning behind it. It's definitely what I'll work to implement the next time I meet with them.
Man when that shit happened to me during a doubles match, I would always try to tag that player when they were at the net especially during high school where I kept the same doubles partner all 4 years and for USTA events as well. He and I used to get very confrontational on cuort with such players which included assholes that were poor (or cheating) line callers during our singles matches. Definitely messes with their mind and if you get them angry enough they aren't going to lob anymore lmao.
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

I mean really the best thing is to just practice it with them until they're used to it. Then they can hit it back whichever way they are comfortable with.

Although every once in a while I'll screw up a backhand slice and instead of hitting it flat I end up moonballing it with a TON of slice, and even experienced players sometimes are thrown off by the bounce. At the very least it disrupts timing. I don't do it on purpose though because 1) I don't like moonballing, 2) if I did it often they would get used to the bounce anyways, and 3) I try to practice consistent low groundstrokes with my backhand, not moonballs.

Definitely can be an effective shot though.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

my experience i havent liked playing people that do topspin lobs. played in a doubles final last year at a club . one of the players was probably the top junior at the club and he kept hitting topspin lobs. it got very annoying as it was about 29 degrees (which is rather hot in the UK). Ended up losing, although they wernt really pushers this was just one tactic they had.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

Pushers are an absolute disgrace to the game. Don't get me wrong, pushing is as viable a strategy as any, but year after year, I see extremely talented young kids choose other sports besides tennis simply because they find nothing fun about being lobbed and hacked and moonballed for 2 hours before shaking hands at net. At lower levels, it is very difficult for even the most talented youngsters to withstand the constant barrage of pushing.

That said, the best way to deal with these high slice moonballs is probably to hit drive volley off of them, but if your #1 is good enough to aim, try to get him to aim DIRECTLY AT the pusher. You'd be surprised how many pushers at that age struggle when a shot comes right at them. They're usually good at stretching to their backhand or their forehand, but hit it straight at the pusher and he'll either 1) Get hit by the ball 2) Reflexively toss up a very short lob that can easily be smashed 3) Hit it out

If this pusher has really good reflexes, then perhaps it's a different story, but it's something to try. I imagine most kids 12 and under (particularly pushers) aren't used to having to reset their feet to get out of the way of the ball. It certainly worked for my friend and I when we played doubles pushers in high school a few years ago.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

in my experience, I've seen a lot of pushers get eaten alive by good players. I seem to push a bit when i play people i know i should beat easily and just kill any short balls they give me. not that i agree with pushing but I am all about balance.
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Old 06-15-2014, 08:33 AM   #11
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

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in my experience, I've seen a lot of pushers get eaten alive by good players. I seem to push a bit when i play people i know i should beat easily and just kill any short balls they give me. not that i agree with pushing but I am all about balance.
I was playing in a ratings event about 16 years ago where I saw this guy get utterly buggerd by a pusher! the guy pushing guy looked liked a 30 somethin office/clerical type and his opponent was a younger athletic type, blonde hair, big game. He won the 1st set 6-1, in the second the pusher started blocking service returns instead of taking big swings and missing, in the rallies he lofted his shots about 5 feet over the net deep into the court bit like jose higueras used back in the day. Anyway the athletic guy couldn't get his head around the high slow balls and he made error after error trying to hit the cover off the ball, his big serve wasn't doing the damage it did in the first set and he just didn't know how to adjust or play soft slicey shots. He lost the match 6 zip in the third.
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Old 06-16-2014, 12:12 AM   #12
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

So glad I learned to push before I became a decent player...
I recently faced a kid who, whenever things became troubling for him, pushed/sliced lob.
If it was deep, I just pushed back.
If I had a look at it, I drop-shotted the ball, then smacked it right in the kid's face for trying it.
I beat the kid 6-1, 6-2.
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Old 07-12-2014, 01:32 AM   #13
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

I'de always rather play a pusher than someone that dictates with a big heavy topspin ball . Or just big strokes in general . Give me a pusher any day . Certainly been a long bloody time that anyone beat me by pushing .
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:36 PM   #14
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Default Re: Novice Level Tactics Against Pushers

Played a pusher today won 6-3 , 6-0 . Only 1 ace overall for me . But plenty of hitting deep followed by drop shots finished off with a passing shot ( cross court topspin forehand with sidespin) or a wide cross court backhand plus a few dtl . Some nice high deep defensive lobs when I needed it as well .
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