Forehand slice - the most underrated shot in tennis?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by davced1, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. davced1

    davced1 Rookie

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    I played last night and realised that my forehand slice is much better and more consistent than my backhand slice. For me it's the shot that feels most natural and I can do it without any effort it seems. I can place it wherever I want and almost never miss it.

    But you seldom see pros use it except on some low balls and when under pressure in the corners. I feel like it's a shot that is not really accepted to use except in those cases mentioned before. It's just to easy to pull it off, feels almost almost like cheating.

    What do you think?
     
    #1
  2. rafazx10

    rafazx10 Rookie

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    Slice in general is a defensive shot, usually not needed on the forehand.

    And while it may work great, and even cause some damage at lower levels, at high levels a proper top spin forehand is much more efficient.
     
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  3. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I'd say that you're NOT crazy - that shot is definitely among the essentials in my toolbox, but I have to qualify my opinion. I grew up playing serve and volley tennis on grass courts, so I learned backspin shots right out of the gate. Slicing off both wings was a bread-and-butter essential for hitting good approach shots, but even though I've built a stronger baseline game, I still love my slice forehand.

    The heavy topspin game with exchanges of loopy deep shots can freak some players out. Some hitters get pushed back by those high bouncers while others may try to hit some of those incoming loopy balls on the rise with a topspin reply - a more demanding shot, but it can be a solid alternative to letting those bounding balls back you up near the fence. Coaching high school kids has given me some perspective because slicing doesn't seem to be among the essentials for so many young (or even older) players these days. It can also be tricky business to teach it.

    The drawback with the forehand slice is that it doesn't have as much zip as a decent topspin shot, so it can give a stronger player trouble if it's a low skidder, but it's not a shot that often travels through the court. Sure, consistency and accuracy rank quite high on the list of "stroke priorities", but better opponents may have much less trouble with this relatively slow shot.

    In the same way that every player with either a one or two-handed topspin backhand should also learn a backhand slice, I believe that the same reasoning works with the forehand wing. The forehand slice is a strong option for returning serve, changing pace in a baseline rally, approaching the net, putting opponents at the net on the defensive (with a low shot)... blah, blah, blah. I suppose that my biggest problem with this shot is that it can be too much of a security blanket sometimes and I'll use it more than I should. I guess that's more of a tactics issue though, and not a problem with the shot itself.
     
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  4. AnotherTennisProdigy

    AnotherTennisProdigy Professional

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    It's fine at the lower level. However, the higher up the tennis ladder if power you go, the harder it becomes to hit a slice without it becoming mauled by the opponent.
     
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  5. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    it is a nice shot to have but on the pro level it is really rare in those days. the only one who uses it regularly is murray I think
     
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  6. AnotherTennisProdigy

    AnotherTennisProdigy Professional

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    Dolgopolov uses it a lot.
     
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  7. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Santoro mastered it, as well as any other uncommon shot.

    There's a time and place for any shot. I use slice to mix it up and keep an opponent off balance. In general, I hit with topspin to keep an opponent behind the baseline. But if they camp 5 feet behind the baseline, they'll get a drop shot or slice to keep em guessing.
     
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  8. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    5 feet? You better be great at droppers..lol. But yeah I do that too.

    Dropshots are tough though. If you don't have them mastered, that drop shot can easily become a free winner for the other guy.
     
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  9. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    FH slice has its place, and can be useful when you want your opponent to have to hit up on the ball to get it to clear the net. Punch them DTL on approach shots and keep it low and you can bank on an easier first volley.
     
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  10. texacali

    texacali Rookie

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    I love having the forehand slice. I play at 3.5 so not a high level, but if the forehand drive is not working, the slice keeps me in there until I get more comfortable hitting harder. I try to mix it with placement and keep it really low since I also realize it is not the greatest offensive shot. I guess since many folks use some form of western grip, the slice may not be as natural? I grew up with Eastern so no adjustment necessary.
     
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  11. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    There is still a place for the forehand slice in today's game. It may not be your first option, but it's good to have in your toolkit. Two common situations are when stretched out on defense and when hitting an approach off a short, low ball. In the first situation, I know defense can be a dirty word around here, but its a necessary part of the game and you are not always going to be able to set up to hit that big shot you want. When you are strethced out wide and can barely get a racket on the ball a slice may be your only option. In the other situation, if that ball stays down, it's going to be difficult to get under the ball and come over it to hit an effective topspin shot with a western/semi-western grip, so your next best option may be to hit a sliced approach that stays low.
     
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  12. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    It's not underrated. The thing is, you probably dont understand why.

    The ball flight isnt any "worse" on a forehand slice than on a backhand. That's not the reason why people stay away from the forehand slice. In a nutshell, its this: 90% of the time you can hit a slice forehand you can hit a topspin forehand and the same cannot be said about the backhand side.

    It's quite easy to junk ball someone with forehand slices, but chances are, if that's securing you wins, you could have done the same thing with a topspin forehand.

    Eventually, you'll go up against someone that it just wont work. Slices have to be low, very low, with loads of spin to keep them low after the bounce. If you can hit a proper slice, you should have the ability to hit a proper forehand and backhand (at level).

    I thought id never say this... but moonballing is probably better than a forehand slice up until high level 3.5 or 4.0 simply because its easier to hit and harder to punish. A bad slice is simply going to be a floater at the net or a ball that will bounce and sit up right in the strike zone relatively close to the net.

    Underrated? No.
    Overused and misunderstood? Yes.
     
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  13. robbo1970

    robbo1970 Hall of Fame

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    Its a great shot. Especially against some of the intermediate 'power hitters' I play against. Without having a hard shot played at them, they have to generate the power themselves and dig the ball up to get it over the net, the amount of errors made makes it a very effective weapon to gain control of a rally.

    Executed well, its a great tool, executed badly and you feel like a tool.
     
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  14. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I agree with this. It's useful if that's your best shot and you are playing at the 3.5-4.0 level. Even 4.5 players can be messed up by someone who really masters the slice and uses it effectively. Beyond that, it's a shot that's used sparingly, either for defense, drop shots, or low approach shots. High level players will eventually either hit a winner or wear you down while you are constantly playing defense.
     
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  15. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    yeah ive gone up against some folks who have mastered the slice, (playing some old folks in doubs, whooped us 10-1,10 game pro set match, without breaking a sweat). ive also done the same to people, played a whole match of just slicing right up the middle because he could do virtually nothing with it.

    but as NTRPPolice said, one day you'll come across someone who will eat those balls up all day erry day hungry hungry hippo style .
     
    #15
  16. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    FH slice is an ideal approach shot when you're too close to the net to hit a topspin ball. If you can angle it enough you can often put away the ball for a winner. Sometimes straight ahead works well too, when you've got enough open court or can wrong foot your opponent.
     
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  17. USS Tang

    USS Tang Rookie

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    Having played recently in a couple of national 65s tournaments (grass and clay), I notice that the top seeds hit slice forehands most of the time and very effectively.
     
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  18. cluckcluck

    cluckcluck Hall of Fame

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    I use the FH slice when I'm late on the crosscourt. It floats so it gives me a little bit of extra time to reset my position and view of the court and my opponent.
    It's certainly something that I should practice more.
     
    #18
  19. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    Anything under 4.0 and FH slice can be a huge tool of your game. When the ball is out of the strike zone, I now use FH slice as a defensive probability shot. So do most pros. Anything is better than blasting the ball into the net or back fence. Play the odds. Reduce unforced errors.

    And, like you, I can hit FH slice with razor sharp accuracy, and it can even be offensive. (like placing a passing net shot) I've been doing slices since age 6, and it's like a 6th sense.

    It's also a killer return of serve shot. (Think of how you effortlessly slice killer "winners" back when the serve is called out)

    Trying to hit topspin winner when the ball is at my eyes? That's for 3.0 suckers. Read this:
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=438284
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=440190
     
    #19
  20. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Over-hitting is bad on any shot and it doesnt only happen on forehands. It just has a tendency to happen more on forehands with people trying to emulate Monfils 90 mph action. People can definitely over-**** slices... I take "assertive" swings on my slices and you need that to send the ball back with a good amount of spin. All the people that ive seen who hit forehand slices as "weapons" tend to over-hit them just like how normal players over-hit their topspin forehands.

    Sure, you can say "look at how easy it is to hit winners off serves" but I bet you're not looking at the whole statistic.

    What about the fabulous slices that:

    Were not killed, but would have been if the ball was live?
    Balls that hit the doubles alley in singles?
    Balls that hit below the bottom half of the net?
    Balls that have no pace on them at all?
    The questionable repeatability of these shots?

    The logic of "see how good slices are because they're controlled swings" is a bit faulty. If you take a good player with a topspin forehand they definitely dont need to take full swings on everything and have some form of "ease of repetition".

    90% of the shots you hit with a forehand slice can be hit with topspin for a much better effect.

    If you're chopping winners all over the place, the mobility of your opponent is in question, not the quality of your strokes, IMO.
     
    #20
  21. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Depends on the level of play. I could see how it could give lower level players fits.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Depends how well you hit it too.
    Hit like Connors, it would beat most 6.0's.
    Hit like me, it loses to strong 3.5's.
    OTOH, run wide, full speed, it's the best shot to recover with, low, hard sliced skidding ball that takes time to travel over the court, giving me time to stop, recover, and head back towards center of intersect.
     
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  23. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    The main reason you don't see it much is that you have to pass up a TS Fh to
    hit it
    most of the time, and since the TS Fh is often a players best shot...
    why not hit your best shot as often as you can? Yes, you can mix it up some
    if you are getting a lot of looks on the Fh side, but most often your opponent is
    going to try and work your Bh if your game is like the avg player.

    If your TS Fh is not your best shot, likely your game sub par, but clearly not always
    the case, like with Murray and DJ. Their overall level is so high it does not matter
    much though. Even though their Bh may be better in ways, their TS Fh is still brutal
    as well as versatile. Most club players Bh is only better because the TS Fh is weak
    for some reason and makes the Bh look better incomparison.

    It comes down to the fact that most players are not going to pass up many looks
    on their bread and butter stroke, to hit a Fh slice.
     
    #23
  24. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    Yea, but against a good player, you will very often have FH shots OUT of position. Under 4.0 will usually make an error on these shots. This is why a slice can become "the best offense is a good defense". Against a strong player, you might hit more FH slices b/c you're never in position to hit a clean topspin FH anyway.

    Slice always beats an unforced error.
     
    #24
  25. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Well sure, if you are overmatched like that you will be forced to go to the slice
    more, but
    Pros are never overmatched that much. I thought this was asking why you don't
    see the Fh slice more in normal matches where each player is good enough
    to work their game and actually have a game.
    you said, "But you seldom see pros use it ", so that is what I commented on.

    All bets are off for beginners looking
    to build a game and strokes. You might see anything and yes, do see many Fh
    slices in these type matches.
     
    #25
  26. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    OK, I agree with majority that FH slice is a niche shot and your basic rally ball and aggressive shot should be a topspin FH. This is high percentage tennis and is the goal.

    But, there are always exceptions. I have played against and with a guy who won at 4.5 level with 90% of the FH being hit with slice. He did play mostly doubles. He also won 4.0 singles matches and won more than he lost when he was in his late 50s.

    Don't forget Paul Annacone was in the top 20 (maybe 10?) and he hit a touch on slice on most of his FH. I saw him play McEnroe in an exhibition and he stood in and attacked everything with underspin off both sides. I would venture that Annacone would beat all the 5.0s on this board playing nothing but FH slice if he wanted too. McEnroe was another great example as he hit a high percentage of FH slice and could kill 5.0s and down.
     
    #26
  27. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Paul would beat EVERY player on this forum currently, bar none. He's still at least a strong 5.5.
     
    #27
  28. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    Fed, hello!
     
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  29. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    It's true that when you could hit FH slice you could also hit a topspin FH. The thing is, why would someone only want to hit topspin FHs? 95% of the time they bounce right into the opponents preferred hitting zone and you do little to no damage with them. With topspin only you have to go for harder shots and push the angles more.

    Slice in general is a great way to pull someone out of a rhythm. It is also a great way to not give them a ball that goes right into their preferred hitting zone. For example, a great use of FH and BH slice is to take off most of the pace and let the ball bounce twice before the service line. Against a baseliner, this is a great way to keep him from pummeling the ball and forcing him to come into the net where they are usually much less comfortable.
     
    #29
  30. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    I have always noticed this. It seems like topspin HELPS your opponent when the ball lands midcourt at the service line. It helps to reach him, and he moves less. Topspin only seems useful if you're also driving the ball deep. Otherwise, a slice is a more offensive shot, ironically.
     
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  31. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Well, a slice that lands at the service line isn't exactly offensive either. Really, any shot that goes through the court is more offensive and any shot that brings the opponent inside the court is either defensive or a screw up. Aside from a well placed drop shot.
     
    #31
  32. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I love seeing players admit to the above mentality and you are right, that if you
    can't hit good pace to the right spot, you might as well use the slice,
    especially if you can skid your slice with modern technique.
    In the practice for smarter targets thread, it is explained how if you can hit TS with
    good pace, you can hit strongly away from your opponent with low risk, creating
    very good pressure on them.

    But yes, If you can't hit strong TS with pace to a good target...sure slice away!
     
    #32
  33. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Totally agree.

    Annacone and Mac are very unique players. Annacone would and did come in on anything. His whole game was about getting to the net. He made Mac look like a baseliner. Both of those guys have great hands. They could both slice and dice me to death. However I don't play either of these guys very often.

    For us normal folks, if you get a fh, pound it with ts. Make your opponent deal with pace and spin.
     
    #33
  34. Netspirit

    Netspirit Hall of Fame

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    No, a short slice is more offensive than a short topspin shot as it creates more problems for the opponent, makes him scramble and leaves him out of balance.
     
    #34
  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You really can't say either way as it is the direction and quality of shot that matters.
    A short skidding slice can be brutal, but not as good as a power TS Fh that is angled off short near the svc line for a clean winner.
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Short skidded slice or heavy topspin, it bothers certain players and other players just eat it up.
    Old school guys love short skidded slices, using them for their sliced approach shots.
    Young hard topspin hitters don't like being bothered by short slices.
    Old school guys hate heavy topspin high bouncers.
    Young guns want that incoming ball so they can pummel another one.
     
    #36
  37. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    First time I've ever heard a sitter referred to as offensive.

    That's what a slice is that doesn't penetrate the court, it sits up.
     
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  38. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Unless it hits the service line, skidds up to about ankle heights, and goes sideways as well as forwards.
    A strong slice, lower than 1.5' over the net, can do this.
     
    #38
  39. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    That sounds like a failed dropshot attempt to me and would certainly be a "sitter" in most cases provided the person has seen the shot coming (high take back) and doesnt have mobility issues.

    Even at my level, dropshots need to be pretty good to be winners and slices need to be pretty deep in the court and low bouncing.

    Anytime a drop shot isnt stuck well its almost an automatic loss of point. That's the gamble with droppers. If your opponent gets to the ball they have a lot of open court from being so close to the net regardless of where you're standing in the court.

    And, well, if you can count hitting the line as intentional, I guess that shot would be a nice offensive winner.
     
    #39
  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    #40
  41. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    I will be damned if I ever see a slice to slice rally like that in 4.0 (or even 4.5) or below tennis. Those slices are probably traveling faster than your average topspin drive at those levels. That was also a slice to slice exchange from the baseline from players showing a great amount of patience in a point. That level of patience you will not see until high levels of tennis. Remember, those guys can "turn it on" at any point in time. It's not like a 10 moonball exchange at 3.0.

    When you see a low level rec player hit a slice that lands towards the baseline, it's not like the few you see in that video from Federer. It's not even close.

    People who seem to be slice fanatics cling to a select examples from pros who use the slice a lot. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, someone who can properly execute a slice has many other weapons they can use (like Fed/Youz) and shouldnt be compared to a low level player who only has a slice on their backhand, or carves winners from the baseline with their forehand.

    The slice is a fantastic shot if you can do it right. That can be said about any of the shots in tennis. A forehand slice has a place in tennis. All im saying though, is if your forehand slice is your "weapon" then you're not doing it right. When I see threads like this im really hesitant to encourage the use of slice mostly because most people who play tennis on the planet dont even have a topspin backhand to begin with. Some dont even have a topspin forehand. Then they see a thread like this and think their slice is awesome and wont bother learning anything else.
     
    #41
  42. Doubles

    Doubles Hall of Fame

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    I'm not going to bother reading the whole thread, but I'll say this. Earlier this summer there was a city singles tournament and the guy who won it almost exclusively uses a slice forehand. This is a kid who plays second singles at a DI school (U. Toledo) so he's no slouch. If I were to give him an NTRP I would estimate 5.0? So yeah, I think you could say that the slice forehand works at high levels if you know how to use it.
     
    #42
  43. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    No one is saying that. I am saying as a defensive shot, the slice is very underrated in the 3.0 to 3.5 levels. There, people try to hit winners on EVERY shot. Even eye level balls with you on the back of your heels. Instead a slice back will keep you in the point. Watch the pros, they hit tons of slices waiting for the right time to crush a forehand topspin. That is why 3.0's have massive unforced error rates. The best offense is a good defense.
     
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  44. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I'm by no means a slice fanatic and don't cling to anything except that the
    modern slice is very easy to learn for all levels...not just top pros.
    My point with that vid was related to those who think any slice to the svc
    line is easy to put away, which is mostly a wrong idea.

    Go back to my other posts and you can see I agreed that the Fh slice only has
    a small place with most good players as the modern TS Fh should be a better
    options in most situations.

    Either way your comments are all over the place and don't seem to stay on
    track with the OP. He asks why it's not used more and that is because a good
    player will normally have better options, right?
     
    #44
  45. Djoker91

    Djoker91 Rookie

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    Great way to change pace. Get opponent off balance. Sets up a net volley winner
     
    #45
  46. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    Even in the 1970s, most players came over the ball on virtually all forehands and under the ball on most if not all backhands. Since coaches back then talked about how the backhand was the more natural shot and therefore most good players had better backhands than forehands, one would have thought players simply weren't skilled enough to hit slice on the forehand side.

    That's only true if you're playing a base-liner. Most good players in the 1970s were constantly looking out for the short ball that would give them an opening to attack the net.

    Is that because 65 players are no longer capable of effectively covering the net? (The only reason players began experimenting with topspin backhands and heavy topspin forehands in the 1960s and '70s was to defend against net-rushers.)

    Are any of these matches available on the Internet?
     
    #46
  47. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Old farts have worn rotator cuffs, can still swing from high to low with the help of gravity.
    Old farts are slower and reflexes slower, can't cover lobs, so yes, their net play sucks.
     
    #47
  48. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Definitely.

    Still looking for a short ball to attack, I expect.
     
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