If you have been watching any of the Wimbledon matches this
year you have seen the value of the slice groundstroke. The
ball stays so low on the grass that the top players in the
world realize that there are certain situations that a topspin
shot will not work. Did you see how the top pros use the
slice to return serve? It just simply isn't possible to hit
a big topspin shot while returning a booming serve on grass.
Another time that a slice is useful is on a low ball when it
is just impossible to get your racquet lower than the ball
to produce topspin. If you get a low short ball bringing
you into the net, slice allows you to get the ball back and
keep it low while continuing to an offensive position at the
net. If you are pushed wide on the backhand side, having a
one handed slice backhand can make the difference in you
being able to return the ball. Learning a defensive lob with
a little slice on it can add great touch to your game in
stressful situations. And what about when a ball bounces
high around your shoulders? Attempting a low to high topspin
shot on this one could put so much spin on it that the ball
simply dies into the net. The slice groundstroke is a safer
shot to use in these situations.
Hitting a slice forehand or backhand can not only get you out
of a tough situation but can be a weapon as well. You can
use it against that opponent that hates the low ball. Some
players feed off hard shots right in their hitting zone.
Taking the pace off with a slice can take the big hitter out
of their game. Try mixing it up in the warm up and see how
your opponent likes hitting different spins. If a player has
an extreme Western grip then they will probably not like low
balls. Steffi Graf built her game around her slice backhand
by setting up points with low shots moving her opponent around
the court. Having the slice can also allow you to hit
devastating drop shots.
So how do you hit the slice? The first rule is to try and
have a Continental grip. You can use an Eastern backhand grip
although you have to turn the wrist back at contact. That grip
is a more neutral grip that allows the racquet to slide
slightly under the ball. Take your racquet back slightly
higher than the incoming ball and take your racquet from the
top of the ball to the bottom allowing the racquet to slide
under and through the ball. If you are just starting to hit
a slice then it might be a good idea to keep your wrist locked
and think of it as more of a volley. This will prevent you
from getting too wristy and popping every shot straight up.
The more of them you hit the more comfortable you will feel in
getting the proper amount of wrist action. You want to try to
finish with your racquet going forward rather than across you
body. Allow your non-dominant hand to move away from your body
as you hit for balance.
The slice can be a delicate shot used on both the forehand and
backhand. Give it some practice and it can be a great weapon
in your arsenal.