Other than the pace of play, the biggest difference between a top player and an average tournament player is often how they push. A top player doesn’t push to keep the ball in play; he pushes with the intent of winning the point.
How does he do this? He does so by pushing effectively, so the opponent doesn’t have an easy ball to attack. The opponent is forced to either attack weakly or erratically, or must simply push back – potentially giving a ball to attack, if the push isn’t equally effective.
How does a top player push effectively? There are four things he does that lower-ranked players don’t do.
- His pushes are consistently low.
- His pushes are quick off the bounce, so the opponent doesn’t have time to react.
- His pushes are well placed, usually wide the backhand, with occasional quick pushes to the forehand.
- He can push both long and short.
In general, #1 simply takes practice. #2 is a technique problem – most players push on the drop, which is how beginners are taught. If you want to have an advanced push, you need to push quick off the bounce. (You can take the ball late as a variation, or if you are trying to really load up on the backspin.) #3 is simply a habit to develop, with practice. #4 is the hardest to learn, since pushing short takes quite a bit of touch. You should start developing this habit now if you plan on using it someday.
Have you practiced your push much recently? I didn’t think so!
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