Players with a wicked consistent slice backhand....share your tips

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by freelans, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. freelans

    freelans Rookie

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    at this point my slices often hit the net or float
    sometimes I hit a few slices that barely clear the net, travel at a fast pace, go deep and skid low on impact.


    I'd say it's the hardest shot in tennis, even harder than the backhand smash.
    How many of you here can hit amazing slices with consistency?



    What was your learning process?
    What tips helped you along the way?
    How hard do you grip? How do you hold your wrists?
    How close to your body is the contact point? How far in front do you try to hit the ball?
    Advice would be appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
    #1
  2. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    I find it an easy shot for some reason.
    Have a continental grip.
    Start high, slice the ball in front of the body. Step into it.
    One tip was from Brad Gilbert was to start the racquet high and slice and then finish high.
    Good luck
     
    #2
  3. oble

    oble Semi-Pro

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    I also have a hard time doing a good slice.

    I seem to do be able to slice better when the ball is at knee height or lower. I struggle with slices that are chest-high and above. :(
     
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  4. Rorsach

    Rorsach Hall of Fame

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    For me too. For some reason i hardly ever miss a slice shot.
     
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  5. Radicalized

    Radicalized Semi-Pro

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    You probably have the racquet face too angled at contact and are swinging down too slowly. First, make contact with the ball at a shallower angle from above the ball with the face slightly angled back. If you do swing with it more open, you must swing from a higher point above the ball when starting your swing. If you contact it with the face angled too much at too flat of an angle, you know what happens.

    I use a 1HBH. For normal slices, I use my standard BH grip with my knuckle on the top bevel. If I'm going to swing at a really high ball, in my case, I usually switch to one bevel counterclockwise. If the ball is really high, I will almost turn my back to the net to get the high and steep angle. Wrist stays firm. Arm extended at contact.

    Work on the swing to the ball and then try to adjust your footwork and stance as needed to position the ball.

    Angles and approaches vary depending on the situation.

    Once you have the swing down, you can also try "stepping" into the shot.

    Footwork is again important. You have to be in position so you aren't stuck in a position where you are going to float. And in some cases to catch low one, remember, bend the knees. For your swing, note the position of contact in the front of the body for a given ball height that you get a good slice.


    Also, with the high ball, some tend to get in the backseat when taking the ball. This just increases the angle of the stringbed to the ball even if you were approaching the ball correctly otherwise. Be mindful of your shoulder heights, for example, relative to each other. And don't be afraid to get on your toes if necessary.

    It is often easier to slice those low balls because you are already "slicing" down on it. You know to do that part. For higher balls, see the info above. Also, if the face is angled open a bit too much from a low point, the ball won't float as high. Plus you have the benefit of sweeping the racquet farther than if you had a short shallow stroke to a high ball. That also eliminates the float. The face, given the position of your arm and hand, would usually keep the racquet from getting really open at that point anyway in a good stance and you don't get too "wristy."

    And like any other time, when possible, get in on the ball before it either bounces too high or squirts out on you when you are late on a lower one. With either, maybe you end up just "blocking/floating" it back and get blasted.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
    #5
  6. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    This is pretty hackish just sayin. It is not the right way to grip for slice. You cannot get to the right prep position using an eastern bh grip on slice and you cannot hit the ball right. I see a lot of people do this and it is just plain wrong. Wrist leverage issues just to name one problem. Tons of reasons why.

    (If your saying you use an eastern bh grip for slice )
     
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  7. ARKustom93

    ARKustom93 Semi-Pro

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    Agree, ... quite a strange recipe for a slice BH.
     
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  8. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    I call it the old man slice. Guys who taught themselves tennis usually play this shot.
     
    #8
  9. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    The two that stuck in my head were
    'stop trying to hit it like youre roger federer'
    'guide it to the area, youre trying to hit it at a spot'
     
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  10. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    The basic key points for executing the stroke are:
    1. continental grip, closed/neutral stance

    2. high prep with hitting face behind and facing the head, elbow bent, firm L-shape with racket and forearm.

    3. pull of the buttcap/handle forward to the ball, elbow straightens, racket face opens up to the ball and it moves down and through the hitting zone, shoulders stay put through all of this.

    4. follow through is usually across the body, to the opposite side.

    A more advanced thing to try for a wicked slice, once you have the basics, is actually aim right at the net tape or even slightly lower, and have the spin lift it over and in. It won't bounce more than a foot...
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
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  11. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

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    5. Finish position should be both arms wide, like "safe" in baseball.
     
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  12. ARKustom93

    ARKustom93 Semi-Pro

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    Re what you wrote in the first paragraph: If your form and swing speed are consistent and produce these three distinctly different results, you're most likely varying the depth of your contact point. Assuming that #3 is the desired shot quality, on #1 you're slightly late, in #2 you overshoot the ideal contact point, and catch the ball too far upfront.

    In terms of timing your swing more precisely, you need to get a clearer picture of just where your 'ideal' contact point is located. If possible, work on that with a ball machine first, and once you feel secure enough about the shot, take it into a hitting situation, where you'll find out how a varying ball from your partner affects your shot. A warning upfront, this step can be quite frustrating at first, so don't be too hard on yourself; at this stage, you can't expect to hit a perfect ball off shots that are borderline or out of that tiny comfort zone you developed with the ball machine...
     
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  13. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    I've found the slice to be well suited for wall practice. The ball comes back to you at a good height, you don't need a lot of time for prep or follow-through so you can hit it realistically on the wall, and you can get a lot of reps really quickly.

    If you have a line on the wall at net height, you can really work on dialing in your net clearance so that the slice doesn't float on you.
     
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  14. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    Agree 100%. Also, remember to ALWAYS swing your non-hitting arm backwards simultaneously as you swing the racquet forward. This keeps you well balanced through the stroke. By swinging the other arm back you can also do some amazing defensive gets by stepping into the shot and then swinging the whole upper body down at hips! If you don't swing the other arm back, you won't stay balanced down there and will miss the shot.
     
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  15. Douggo

    Douggo Semi-Pro

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    For me, I get better penetrating slice when my stance is closed. When it is open, my slice tends to float.
     
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  16. Radicalized

    Radicalized Semi-Pro

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    I wrote:
    "For normal slices, I use my standard BH grip with my knuckle on the top bevel." Then I went on to note the adjustment I have to make for really high balls.

    I will try to be specific: I said "top bevel," not "top side." I guess how you count "sides/edges" is the difference (in some cases using just a 1,2, etc.... clockwise.). I will say to be clearer, top-right bevel--Continental for those who know.

    I acknowledge that the word "standard" adds confusion.

    While I wasn't specifically clear, for example, to see it online I know tennis.com describes the grip as top, bottom, right, and left sides, with bevels in between the sides. The graphic they had there a while back I know referred to the Continental as the first bevel.

    I looked it up: The format of the page is different than it had been with the diagrams years ago, but the text is there. http://www.tennis.com/your-game/2009/10/grip-guide---a-grip-on-your-game/17981/#.VAczNbadTJ1

    If there is a problem with the above way of describing it, all I can say is there are others to take it up with.

    As not being discussed, on topspin shots, I use "between" the top side and the top-left bevel (Eastern to extreme Eastern for those who know the terminology).

    In the future I will link to the page or give definitions.

    If there is a TT standard method, let me know.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
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  17. uncle pollo

    uncle pollo Rookie

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    I hit it against the backboard 1 hour a week.
     
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  18. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    A struggle with BH slice grip? A solution: switch to 2HBH! Then you can hit the topspin 2HBH and 1HBH slice both with the continental grip on the dominant hand, without changing grips. That's how I do it, and the disguise is perfect!
     
    #18
  19. uncle pollo

    uncle pollo Rookie

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    Yes. Same goes for forehand.
     
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  20. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Just a misunderstanding on the wording. There is no standard ttw usage. But I think the easiest usage is conti. Eastern. Semi-Western. Western. Imo.
     
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  21. Radicalized

    Radicalized Semi-Pro

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    No big deal. I thought Continental probably but I have a habit of just writing without "terminology."

    I had to look more (nothing personal toward you or the other poster) to find what I remember. I had to use the Wayback Machine:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20090304234126/http://www.tennis.com/print.aspx?id=649

    That one appears as I remember. It shows the different grips as diagrams.

    I don't know the last time I saw it, but the last Wayback date was 2009. The original post date is 2006.

    So, if anyone doesn't know the grip names who are reading this thread, the link has explanations.

    Of course, there is always the 1,2,3 etc... from the top going clockwise for those who might see or hear that in a lesson.

    Thread derailment not intended. :oops:
     
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  22. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    The most common problem with pop ups in my experience is not hitting through the ball, instead using an abbreviated stroke.
     
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  23. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Long fast swing, hit thru the ball, aim 18" above the netcord, and you get a penetrating skidding slice that most topspinners have to back off and carefully hit back into your court.
    If they can pummel this ball you hit, resort back to loopy topspin deep balls.
     
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  24. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    @LuckyR and @LeeD allude to it - acceleration. If you try to baby it (unless your goal is to bring someone whose not a good volleyer to net), the ball will float and sit up and probably get ripped back at you.
     
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  25. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    For most players, it's easier to swing FASTER from high to low, a slice, than to swing low to high, a topspin shot. So, use it to your advantage.
     
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  26. AsianArnold1

    AsianArnold1 New User

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    #26
  27. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    In my experience people chop under the slice too much, which:

    A. Makes it travel in a loopy trajectory, giving the opponent a lot of time to react.

    B. Is hard to control direction with, as the swing is too fast.

    C. Flies long if you try to drive it harder, or sits high in the short court off of dropshots, if you try to put away sitters.

    The much better approach to slicing is to keep the racquet head flatter (less open) and to focus on ensuring clean contact through the ball towards the target aiming low over the net, rather than trying to clip the edge of the ball to impart spin. This doesn't require as fast a swing and is easier to control, and leads to a shot which:

    A. Keeps very low stealing time from the opponent, and is good for either driveing through the baseline or skidding short to move the opponent around

    B. Is easy to place accurately as you are swinging cleanly through the ball.

    C. Can be driven low through the court with sidespin or dropshotted low with no pace off of sitters.

    Once you have the technique worked out you can add more spin, but placement and bounce height is even more important, so unless you can place 9/10 exactly where you want with a low bounce in practice then you are probably hitting with too much spin for your abilities.
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I find a fast, little backspin slice shot VERY ineffective.
    It's like a flat shot, bounces normal, no skid, medium speed, just a sitter for everyone to crush.
    Easy to hit, eBackhand, flattish high to low swing, you get run around if you hit this shot, even at low levels.
    Better to add tons more spin, lose 30 mph ball speed, and make it skid sideways on the bounce and force the opponent to set up early and precise with lots of little steps and adjustments.
     
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  29. oble

    oble Semi-Pro

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    @Radicalized
    Thanks for the tips. I think I don't hit through the ball enough on high slices. Too much high to low chopping, cuz I notice these shots tend to land very short (in the service box, sometimes into the net), and then barely bounces forwards after.

    I guess the longer swing path for low slices automatically has more "swinging through" component to it and therefore the ball flies flatter and deeper more easily.

    I do use the continental grip for slice backhands. I'll see if rotating the racquet a bit more towards eastern backhand helps with the high slices that are above shoulder height. :)

    @uncle pollo
    My local tennis club has no backboard for practising =(
     
    #29
  30. freelans

    freelans Rookie

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    Thanks everyone, great tips, keep em coming.
    I found pulling the right arm back all the way with the left arm, and keeping the left elbow up to help(I'm a righty) as this seems to give me more leverage and more leeway to hit cleaner.
     
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  31. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    I agree with some comments above. A slice is not about loads of backspin. It's about keeping the ball low and skidding through off the surface. Too much backspin will result in a high, slow, floating shot, or an unintended drop shot.
     
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  32. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    That kind of slice is fine if you are out of position and trying to find time to recover, butyou better be ready to sprint down an attempted winner against a decent opponent. The type of shot I'm describing does have a decent amount of sidespin and undespin, but the main focus is on clean contact through the ball so that the player can hit the ball low over the net with good placement.

    Like described here (I'm not crazy about the more old school follow through path of the guy in the second video, but he does a great job of describing the mistakes a lot of rec players make):
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MYqYBUeigEc
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UYN38g1U8M4
     
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  33. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    I hit with a shoulder height (my racquet head just extends above my shoulder by 6 inches or so) back swing and a long down, across and forward follow through -

    a. A flattish fast slice passing/attacking shot that skids low with an Eastern grip if its above mid-thigh height (more extreme Eastern if it's above my elbow height) but a Continental grip if it's between mid-thigh and mid-shin height.

    b. A controlled medium pace slice that skims the net, with a Continental grip if I can't quite set up for the ball as well as I prefer

    c. A skidding sharply angled slice as a put away, with a Continental grip but with my knuckle one to half a bevel closer to the forehand side (Bevel 2), depending on the height of the ball.

    d. A delicate, medium paced slice that's almost a drop shot at a sharper angle when I can set up for it off a ball between mid-shin and mid-thigh height (very useful against SW and Western grip forehands, especially, since it doesn't bounce any higher than ankle height.)

    e. A low, heavy reverse cross court (or inside out) slice that goes deep to my opponent's Deuce Court corner, with a Continental grip.

    f. A topspin backhand off any ball below mid-shin height with a weak Eastern backhand grip when rallying but hit a slow, heavily sidespinning slice with an awkward bounce as an approach shot if I get a really low short ball.

    Oddly, when I want to rip my backhands, I choose my flat slice backhand 90% of the time. The only times I rip my topspin backhands are when I am hitting from far behind the baseline. Even when I occasionally hit a topspin passing backhand, it's usually more of a controlled placement.







    My forehands....*sob*....don't ask!
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
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  34. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    The first thing you have to keep in mind is that you are playing tennis. You don't chop, push or brush the ball as much as you actually hit the ball. To many people swing very vertically on various strokes, including the backhand slice, but they all know that they want the ball to move forward. Of course players swing on a downward plane, yet this plane is often more horizontal than what it might seem to be. If you try to chop the ball, I swear you will hit the frame very often and you'll have troubles getting the ball over the net without opening your string bed too much and floating it very high. So, don't do that.

    If you want a nifty, hard and low slice, picture your stroke as a sort of flat shot and hit that ball; if you want a ball that floats a bit more, try to get a little more spin. Basically, it's the same thing as with your top spin strokes, except in the other direction: the ball more or less behave as your racket does and adding spin typically comes at the cost of pace (that is, you can only hit so hard and it takes energy to hit top spin; the same goes for a slice).

    Another great tip is to adjust your swing to the contact height. Think about an arc around your body and on a sort of steep downward slope: the higher your contact, the more down and straight you are allowed to swing; the lower, the more you will have to hit across the ball (as in sideways, giving it side spin). Find a few video of your favorite players -- if one of them has a one handed backhand, it's even better because he likely uses his slice a lot better and a lot more often. See what they do on a low ball: they carve the side of the ball, just as I said.

    Now, for your concerns. Tennis is not a game to be played with brute force and recklessness. We don't grip your racket like it's a super heavy medieval sword, nor even like we are about to strike nails with a carpenter's hammer. We hold the handle gently, all the time and for every single shot because we want our forearm to behave in certain ways that require mobility. If you grip your handle too tight, you won't be able to use your forearm properly when you hit the ball -- and, yes, there always is something your forearm is supposed to do when you hit correctly.

    In this very case, you could let go a bit of your hand. I'm talking about using some ulnar deviation (bending your hand towards your pinkie side) and, to some extent, a bit of a wrist extension (pulling your whole hand towards your forearm from the knuckle side) around contact can help push the ball. I'm not talking about playing badminton; it has to be something subtle and small.

    As for the appropriate position of your hand at the wrist, we try to begin the movement with this sort of L shape created with the handle and your forearm. As I said, it can -- and for a good player should -- move a bit during the stroke, but that's how you start the stroke.

    The final tip is distance. A slice is a shot you hit with a continental grip and anything with that grip has to be struck rather close to your body. With that said, you do not want to run right into the ball and you do not want the ball to move beyond your hitting shoulder. A good reference point would be to hit the ball slightly in front of your dominant foot when you are in a closed stance (and I mean, with some of your back showing towards the other side, not just standing sideways). For a one handed backhand player, the reference point would be to hit the ball slightly later than usual.
     
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  35. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    ^^Agree, rec players tend to brush and chop the ball too much, and not hit through and transfer weight forward enough. Me also... :lol:

    On slice however I tend to do it well. Key is to transfer body weight forward to the front leg during the stroke. Avoid being a lazy azz!
     
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  36. ARKustom93

    ARKustom93 Semi-Pro

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    Speaking of which, ... just how many different grips are you using there??
     
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  37. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    Maybe it's already adressed somewhere and I missed it, but pointing your shoulder at the incoming ball is key. From there step in and move your bodyweight through the ball. This will help with the height and depth control of your shot, and keep it from floating too much/sitting up.
     
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  38. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

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    Regarding grip: If you look at a lot of pros, especially the ones with very good slices, you'll see that they are using a grip that is weaker than true continental. In other words, their knuckle is more towards the eastern forehand grip. I believe that Murray is pretty much Eastern forehand.

    I switched to this grip (from true conti) and found I get a lot more "bite" to the shot.

    Swing path: HIGH (takeback) -- to LOW (through contact) -- to HIGH (at end of follow through).
    - Your opponent should see your rackethead carving out something that looks like a "J" or a reversed "C" (if you're right handed).
    - Your buttcap should be finishing like you're trying to stab someone standing behind and to the right of you.

    The high followthrough is imporant since it will help keep the racketface at a steady angle through the contact zone.


    Body checkpoints:
    - Most of your weight should be transferred to your front foot by contact
    - Your shoulders should not open.
    - Both arms should be flung down, back and out on the follow through, kind of like a skiier who has pushed his poles back to propel him forward.


    Attitude: Swing aggressively
     
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  39. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    My slice is ok for a good 4.5. I notice that when I get tight I tend to block the ball rather than swing at it. I have a mental block that keeps me from performing at peak state most of the time. This is most noticeable on my bh slice. In practice I can take a big swing at it and it becomes a real weapon. In match play my swing slows down and it becomes a defensive weaker shot.

    For inspiration (espeically on slice) I watched this video every day for a long time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTjBXVQyiwg
     
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  40. widmerpool

    widmerpool Rookie

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    The biggest tip is to "lip up" at the end. You want to drive through the ball, not just chop down.

    PRO TIP: If you have a OHBH, you can rip a flat backhand cross-court of the grip and takeback for a slice.
     
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  41. Crisp

    Crisp Semi-Pro

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    Simpletipthat helped me form Felix mantilla. Make contact later. Changed my slice massively made it less passive but still consistent.
     
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  42. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    That makes great sense, it means you're much less likely to hit with an open stance. Will keep that tip in mind.
     
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  43. Lance L

    Lance L Rookie

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    This. I like to have one thing in my mind when I hit a shot and only one thing.

    Serve: have a noodle arm
    Forehand: full shoulder turn
    slice backhand: finish like an umpire calling "safe".

    When I mishit my 1hbh usually my left arm is in by my side, not stretched out behind me.
     
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  44. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    ^^This, and the aggressive weight transfer forward are the keys to a great slice! Ever since my coach said about the left hand finishing behind, I've grooved the BH slice. Before I realized this, my BH slice was just a defensive sitter chop. Now it's a real weapon where I can aggressively swing forward, with the body still staying in perfect balance!
     
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  45. dr_punk

    dr_punk Professional

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    Watch how the ball comes off your racquet -

    If it floats, you're probably whipping the frame too fast in comparison to the incoming ball speed, or you're aiming up on the ball. ONLY time you should aim up is when the ball is below your knees so that you get over net clearance.

    If it hits the net, you'll need to get low with your knees (Don't bend you back), or you are hitting the ball down. ONLY time you should hit down is if the incoming ball is above your shoulders -on the baseline- or you're at the net.

    The slice for the most part is a defensive stroke, so hardly any effort is needed as far as swingspeed. Timing is your friend. Only other option is the ball comes with little pace, that's the time you'll want to put some of your own weight.


    That will be $15 for reading this, thank you.
     
    #45
  46. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    Learn bh volley. It's the same shot except bigger swing. If you can't hit a good bh volley your slice won't be good either.
     
    #46
  47. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

    Joined:
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    For me it was the other way around. I couldn't BH volley and still can't that well, but after I learned the slice, the volley has improved tremendously. For some of us it's easier to learn correct technique with a bigger swing. Understanding the coordination of different body parts and footwork still feels so difficult for me at the net, but imitating the slice seems to work whenever I remember to volley like that!
     
    #47
  48. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Messages:
    626
    Continental, modified Continental, weak Eastern and extreme Eastern - four, I'd say. Though to be fair, I can also use the weak Eastern to hit a more controlled sharply angled crosscourt shot off a high ball (anything shoulder height or above).

    The weak Eastern is my go-to grip because if I'm not trying to rip the ball, I can hit almost all the other shots with it except for balls that bounce above my head. I treat those like a backhand smash or high volley and try to slam it forward and down with an extreme Eastern - more forward than down if I'm further back.

    I agree completely. I could never figure out why the pros insist on hitting floaty slices all the time - or returning high topspin balls with topspin backhands instead of simply slamming the ball forward and down like a backhand smash. It's less tiring and easier than trying to swing the racquet up higher when the takeback is already so high up anyway...but then I'm only 2.5 so what do I know?
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
    #48
  49. 5point5

    5point5 Banned

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    Location:
    1 floor above, dropping the bass.
    Graphene Prestige MP is my secret.
     
    #49
  50. 5point5

    5point5 Banned

    Joined:
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    Location:
    1 floor above, dropping the bass.
    For a wicked backhand crosscourt slice - I hold a eastern/semi-western forehand grip, and aim to hit the side of the ball.
     
    #50

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