Backhand slice

Backhand slice can be considered an advanced weapon loved and widely used especially by the older generation of tennis players. Even though slice is not as widely used as probably 15 - 20 years ago (remember Stefi Graf), but is still a necessary tool of a complete tennis player. And even though that many recreational players are using it daily in their game, I very rarely meet a player with good form and proper execution of this stroke. In this article I will not go into technical details of playing slice backhand (maybe in some future article), but I would rather attack the execution and the idea behind the use of slice backhand, which should eventually get you on the right track for a perfect slice.

Understanding slice


There are three cases when you may opt to use slice:


1. Defending - your opponent is chasing you around the court, you are grinding the base line from right to left and getting to the balls later and later. Suddenly a ball comes extra wide on your backhand and you have no other option than to stretch and use the extra 20cm of your one handed reach to get to the ball. You slice it to slow the game down so that you can recover your position and get to the next ball. 


2. Your opponent is a boom boom guy that likes to hit hard and push. The game is very monotonous and you opt for a backhand slice to change the rhythm of the game and eventually get your opponent out of his comfort zone. 


3. You get a short low ball somewhere on the T and you use the slice approach, to prepare the ground for some killer volley. The idea behind the slice approach is not to kill the ball directly with this approach shot, but rather to get a good position at the net and wait for an easy volley to finish the point. The slice is a good tool for this because the ball goes slower than regurl backhand (you get more time to get closer to net) and the ball doesnt bounce as high as a regular lifted backhand (the opponent needs to take the ball up, which gives you a good chance to play the volley above the net level making it an easy ball to finish).  


The similar characteristic of all these above mentioned shots is that the ball is meant to fly slow through the air and not to bounce very high. So use and train slice with this idea in your mind. Slice is not meant to be hit as hard as normal forehand or backhand. Slice is a delicate stroke, where the ball is your girlfriend and you want to cuddle with it and treat it gently. The ball should float through the air, not go like it was shot from a canon. Also, for slice you use underspin, but use as little as you can. The more underspin you use the more likely you are to kill the nice floating trajectory of the ball (mostly the ball starts heading up up to the sky, because you start opening the head of the racket to much). Last tip - while hitting slice, try to keep the ball on your strings as long as you can. 

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