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A pusher can be one of the most annoying types of players to be up against. Because of the way they play, beating them requires a great deal of mental toughness.

How do you be mentally tough enough to beat a pusher then? Well, let’s get into it!

Why is a Pusher SOOO Annoying?
Pushers are a huge threat to us and the way we are used to playing. They make us work really hard and challenge our patience. They thrive on us missing and making mistakes. Probably the biggest reason pushers are so annoying is because their style of play pits us against ourselves. Additionally, they not only make us play against ourselves, but oftentimes make us beat ourselves- we especially hate this. Lastly, they are a threat to our fun and winning when we are on the court with them.

The Mental Trap When Playing a Pusher:
It is easy to get angry and upset when playing this type of player. To really play well against them, we have to avoid allowing our focus shift to several different things.

The first is thinking how they are wrong for playing they way they do. You can resist and think the way they play is bad as much as you want, but they are not going to change and the only thing that is going to happen is your mental toughness will suffer. Something that goes along with this is you have to give up thinking that you are playing the right way (real tennis) and they are playing the wrong/invalid way (not real tennis).

Lastly, when we get mad at the pusher, we get ourselves off of the hook from having to play well and off of the hook from any mistakes that we make (we use them as an excuse). We tell ourselves that we are playing badly because we are against a pusher and it is their fault that we are missing. To be mentally tough and beat a pusher, we have to give up this notion. Otherwise, we have no chance.

How to Win:
So once you have given this garbage up, what there is to do now is to really flex that mental muscle, and it really is a muscle, to make yourself focus on mastery, or excellence or your game plan, or whatever it is that you keep focused on during your match.
Side note- if you do not have anything that you keep in mind when you are playing or anything to focus on while playing, I highly recommend you do.

On top of that, the pusher is going to do what he is going to do, you cannot control him and you can’t change the way he plays. I promise. And no matter what you think about him, how he should or should not play, he will not change. You can get as mad as you want at the traffic, but it will still be there. Same with pushers- and this goes for any type of player that annoys you- grunters, cheaters…. All of them
Just accept that he is going to be this way, you cannot do anything about it and focus on what YOU can do to win, which starts by keeping your head in the game.
Lastly, this is a process, something that you have to practice, and something that you will probably have to do many times during a match with a pusher.

David Groemping
Gemini Mental Toughness Training

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Comment by Mark / The Mayor on December 8, 2009 at 11:05pm
Very true. Pushers are sooooooo annoying for exactly the reasons that you point out.
Comment by Mr. Jessie L. on December 7, 2009 at 7:36pm
Everyone has a weakness. Figure it out and pick on it!!!

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