Pushers give everyone nightmares.
They are “walking” bad losses. Everyone expects us to beat them, but these pushers know the game and are darn hard to beat. They scoot around the court, slow the ball down and rarely miss. Finally, their hitting the ball softly thing and the attendant lack of pace often ruins our timing and ability to generate our own pace. Finally (as though this would be needed) the longer the rally, and the longer the match, they happier they appear to become.
Coming to terms with pushers requires patience on your part. It requires determination. It requires managing your own errors. And it requires adjusting your timing so you can “wait on the ball.”
Lagging on the way back
Against pushers our errors occur from preparing and stepping too early – said again our loss of rhythm and confidence occurs from preparing and stepping too early – instead you must turn to the side early, keep your feet moving, and delay the backswing until after the bounce. Said another way, as regards preparation, you must lag or delay the racquet head (but there is much more to this story).
Lagging on the way forward (the modern forehand)
There was a time when strokes were taught with the phrase – point the racquet to the back fence to prepare and to the front fence when finishing. But in the modern method the racquet initially points to the front fence and finishes pointing to the back fence. This is an acceleration model – and certainly the modern forehand is all about racquet speed.
There is one more piece to this puzzle, and this is in the lagging of the racquet head on the way forward. Your operative word is – loosen up and pull. In sequence the body unwinds but with subtle delays where the torso leads the arm, the arm leads the hand, and finally the hand leads the racquet head.
With practice and renewed determination revisit the dreaded pusher. You must be patient. You must move your feet. You must choose when to attack. But when that moment occurs – wait on the ball, delay the backswing, lag the forward swing – and paste the lines with your winners.
Don’t be shy, let me know if you’ve found this stuff to work for you…