View Full Version : Slice serve questions

01-06-2010, 12:42 PM
I am in need of some help with my slice service. Can you tell me if you stand differently to deliver this serve. My coach told me to bring my back foot closer to my lead foot to open up my body more, I guess I was staying closed for too long because I hit mainly flat and kick serves, where you stay sideways longer. Doing this resulted in some awful serves because I was foreign to this style of delivery.

Also, do you hit under the equator of the ball (like you would flat, kicker) and to the side (3 o' clock), or mainly hit ON the equator of the ball. Because my toss is lower for the slice serve, I'm having difficulty exploding UPWARDS into the ideal slice contact point. Also,do you find your feet leave the ground as much for the slice as for the other serves? I guess I'm having difficulty applying certain concepts with kickers and flats to the slice. My toss is erratic, sometimes I'm far into the court...and its GOLD. I try to replicate that...and I slap tape. Then I'll toss more to my side, sacrificing velocity but increasing spin...and GOLD. Then the inconsistencies arise again.

01-06-2010, 04:14 PM
Pure slice, you slice the equator with a toss well out to the right if you're right handed.
But few players use the lower bouncing pure slice serves nowadaze. Most hit a combo top/slice, where you hit the top of the equator getting 45 degree forward spin. Safer, more net clearance, higher bounce.
I don't think anyone better than 5.0 uses a backspin serve, but I don't know for sure.
Slice contact point can be HIGHER than twist/kick contact point. Unless you want a low skidded slice with some backspin.
Highest contact point is of course, the first flat serve.

01-06-2010, 04:30 PM
Although there are differences on teaching this serve, I like the player to use more arm and less body rotation staying sideways more than on a regular serve. Try it and you'll probably like the results.

01-07-2010, 07:14 AM
I was reading some tennis literature from the 70's and there was a paragraph dealing with the slice serve and how the Eastern backhand grip is the recommended grip for this serve. I've always used a continental grip, does anyone else recommend possibly switching to an EBH for a slice serve?

01-07-2010, 07:17 AM
Why? You can slice serve with Eastern forehand, with Aussie forehand, with conti, and with EBH or derivatives of.....
Why not keep EBH for top/slices, where the toss is more over your head?
If you're tossing off to your right for slices, why would you want to shorten your hitting arm distances?
No difference in pace or spin. Biggest difference in height of the strikepoint.

01-07-2010, 07:22 AM
LeeD I don't necessarily want to toss way off to my right, that would give away my serve, although I do sometimes if my opponent isn't good enough to capitalize on this information anyways.

I guess I'm confused to the height of the contact point as well as the reach out wide, both can vary greatly with this serve and success can still be had, that's why its hard for me to pinpoint an exact location for my toss.

01-07-2010, 07:29 AM
My slice serve, even without topspin, is barely (less than 8") off the toss location for first flat serves. And when I go really wide, about the same as first flats. So the location is not really giving away the serve.
Even at the very top levels, the returner focus's on the ball, and the direction of the server's followthru, not his exact toss and body location. He knows you're either serving a first serve or a second. He knows the first is faster, and he has time for the second. So disquise is less important than a solid, well located serve.
And here, we're not talking 6.0 levels.
Biggest problem with EBH is that shorter leverage arm, a lower strikepoint, but a lower, skidded ball possibly. Most good returners can handle anything from mid thigh to shoulder. Higher strikepoint allows more consistency.

01-07-2010, 07:35 AM
How about the knee bend? Is it just as extreme as say a flat serve? Just as much explosion upwards to the ball? Because I'm hitting directly on the equator of the ball I'm not focusing on the underbelly of the ball as much...should I be?

01-07-2010, 07:42 AM
If you try to hit the underbelly, you'd get a backspin component as well as sidespin. This flattens the arc of the ball, skids really low, but lessens the consistency of the slice serve. You do as you want for the results you want. My idea of slice serve is to get the opponent out wide, not to force him to hit returns from mid thigh or lower.
Yes, kinetics the same, kneework the same, swing is faster than first flat swings.
I like to hit slightly above the equator, to give some topspin effect, for more consistency, more arc, higher bounce, and allows me to swing faster all the time and still get the ball in.

01-07-2010, 08:06 AM
Eureka! I bet you I wasn't accelerating the racquet head like I do on my other serves! LeeD do you want a straight arm when you make contact with the slice or should there be some crook in it?

01-07-2010, 08:13 AM
I never hit with a purely straight elbow, even reaching up for first flat serves. There seems to be some small/slight amount of elbow bend. I think I get more armspeed with a barely bent elbow. And I hate to snap straight my left elbow, the one always in pain (injury).
Most bend in topspin or kick serves.
Less so for slices, but depends do you want a low skidder, or purely a wide directional slice?
And least for first flat serves, as you're trying to heighten the strikespoint to get more margin for error.

01-07-2010, 08:20 AM
It seems to me that with the slice serve, you can get away with hitting the ball "down" into the box. There doesn't seem to be that up over the net, then down into the box. Maybe not hitting down into the box is quite right, more like hitting across into the box. You can take the net out of the equation by having a high contact point.

Does this seem correct to you?

I'm still going to mess around with an EBH grip with this serve my next practice and see how it goes.

01-07-2010, 08:24 AM
Wouldn't that depend how tall your are, your strikepoint height, and how fast you hit the slice serve.
I know some really short guys at the 5.0 level who hit up on their slow slices, making huge arc with lots of side movement and some skid.
I also know some 6'6" Div1 guys who seem to hit their slices with almost NO ball arc, as it's going so fast the ball seems flat like their first flats. So they might be hitting "down" a little.
I'm in the middle, around 5'11", so need to hit straight out on most of my slice serves.

01-07-2010, 08:44 AM
LOL my height might have helped. I'm a long limbed 6'4".

01-07-2010, 08:46 AM
Are you hitting a slice serve to get the ball really wide, or are you hitting it as a variety bounce that goes low and skids?
For really wide, I'd combine topspin with slice.
For a variety serve, a low strikepoint will allow a low skidded ball, with some underspin.

01-07-2010, 08:52 AM
At this stage of my tennis I'm mainly interested in not double-faulting. I have found the kicker in the ad court (I'm a righty) to be an asset for me. In fact I hit kickers on both serves in the ad court, the first serve more of an Edberg-esque "snap" kicker with a lot of pace and heaviness and the second serve more of the traditional "brushing" of the ball, emphasizing contact with the felt and not the rubber.

Although I'm still in the learning process, I have found that the kicker in the deuce court (for a second serve) isn't as successful. I don't know if it's because I'm going across my body in that court or not. My first serve kicker is fine but my second serve kicker in the deuce is something I need to practice more because I usually hit with slice there. Also, vice-versa in the ad court, I need to practice more slice serves in that court for variety's sake.

Again, regarding the slice, I'd like something with safety and some good net clearance.

01-07-2010, 09:00 AM
Personally, I'd abandon the search for a pure slice second serve.
Instead, as every male pro uses, learn a topspin/slice second serve, which you can swing faster than any other serve, and it always goes in....unless you mishit, of course.
The topspin stroke is forwards towards the target, not upwards like the kick serves. This swing is easier to learn, mostly tossed over your head, and any grip works, pronation or not. You basically chop at the ball with your fastest swing. Aim for the top/side, like 45 degrees or 10 o'clock.
It's the easiest, most consistent serve anyone can do.
Kicks don't work well for right handers on duece court because the court is shorter, and the net lower. Well, net lower has little to do with it. Shorter court doesn't give you that big bounce.
Kicks work great for lefties on duece court, not so great for ad courts.
So, flat serves when you are confident, any location.
On duece court, kick up the middle, or top/slice wide.
On ad court, twist out wide into the alley, or top/slice up the middle.

01-07-2010, 09:08 AM
Thanks LeeD for your help, it's been immensely appreciated.

With this top/slice serve, since I'm hitting it at 2 o' clock (righty), am I still tossing the ball as high as I normally do for other serves, or just slightly lower? Am I still aiming for the highest possible comfortable contact point?

I guess what I'm asking is am I extending my arm after I make contact with the ball (like a kicker) or while making contact?

01-07-2010, 10:27 AM
Even if you had done it before, it's worth going back through Will Hamilton's videos on the slice serve now that LeeD has given you such good pointers. The visualization should cement his comments, and be a good source to go to again as you practice and continue to tweak your slice serve.

W Cats
01-07-2010, 11:55 AM
Hey LeeD, I've been using a kick up the T on the duce side in doubles lately, I'm a righty. At my measly 4.0/4.5 level teams will often put the weaker BH on the duce court and this serve seems to either generate an error or an easy put away for my net man or myself when I come in. I've been using the following 4 1st serves on the duce court with some success; kicker down the T, flat down the T. flat in the body and slice out wide. I never thought about hitting a kicker on the duce side as I always thought of it more of an ad court serve untill I saw a vid. clip of Federer dishing up a nasty kick down the T that went by Davidenko.

01-08-2010, 06:47 AM
In watching Will's FYB slice service video, the greatest disparity I see with my toss to his is his is perhaps a couple of inches more to the side, compared to the flat, as my slice toss is perhaps 18 inches farther out to the side than my flat. This is possibly why I'm not exploding up into the ball like I should and why maybe the top/slice is more difficult for me. Coupled with the fact that my toss is well into the court as well.

Tomorrow I'm going to incorporate an EBH grip with the slice serve and I'll post results here. I'm curious to see if this grip will be more ideal for me.