Coaching tip of the week: How to Push Extremely Heavy
(By Larry Hodges)
A heavy push can cause havoc when done at the right time, and sometimes is all that’s needed to take away an opponent’s effective attack. How do you do this shot?
First, keep in mind that it’s not enough to just have lots of backspin. It also needs to be low, deep (unless you are pushing short, a different type of push that usually isn’t as heavy), well-placed (usually to a wide corner, sometimes to the middle against a two-winged looper), deceptive (sometimes aim one way then go the other), and somewhat quick to rush the opponent (either off the bounce, with some pace, or both).
To get that extra bite on your heavy push, here are some tips.
- Use wrist. Bring the wrist back before contact and then use both wrist and forearm to smoothly accelerate the racket.
- Accelerate through contact. You want the racket accelerating right through contact.
- Graze the ball with a relatively open racket. The more you graze the ball, the more spin you’ll get. In fact, if you graze it enough, you’ll have to put extra energy into the shot to make it go deep, since most of that energy is going into spin.
- Grippy rubber. You simply get more spin with a spinny rubber.
How do you develop this shot? Practice! You can do this both with regular practice and in games. One mistake many make is having two players both practicing their heavy push at the same time. Result? You develop a really nice heavy push against an incoming heavy push – and then, in games, you pop the ball up against serves and pushes that aren’t equally loaded. The best way to develop your heavy push might be to have someone practice their serves, where they vary from heavy backspin, side-backspin, and no-spin, and you learn to push heavy against all of them. (Chop down against no-spin to keep it low. You can even push against short topspin/sidespin serves by chopping down at contact.)
Then, as the ultimate practice, try to win practice matches with your newly-developing heavy push. Find someone who likes to serve short and then loop, and see if you can win by loading up your receives with heavy backspin – but remember to push deep, well-placed, deceptive, and quick & fast!