Slice Return

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by BCTennis, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    I am a level 4.0-4.5 junior player. Starting now there are many big and powerful guys with monster serves that has good placement( I'm only 5'6 and 160 pounds, and I maxed out my serve at 114 mph) However, I consider myself as a horrible returner. I slice everything, backhand and forehand, on even the slowest serves. My backhand slice return is in fact incredibly good against junior players, as many of them have a hard time ripping the low skidding slice. But my forehand return looks like a JOKE. It either just drops over the net, or its a float slice easy to be pounded. Any tips on forehand returns? What should I practice?
     
    #1
  2. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2005
    Messages:
    9,087
    Depending on your grip choice. If you have an eastern(ish) grip, you have a fairly easy time blocking back serves if it's within your reach. Use the serve's pace and focus on making good contact with the ball off the bounce, take it early, and block it back with good placement (if you can).

    Lastly, you don't want to slice ALL the time so that your opponent knows it's your go-to (or perhaps the only shot).

    If you have a western(ish) grip, I'll have other people help you. But still, your focus should be take it early, use the pace of the serve, and block it back deep/good placement.

    I know this wasn't your question originally, but if you're a junior, there's no reason why at 5'6, you're ~160lbs. I'm not picking on you, but it'll be tremendous for your game if you can drop at least 10 pounds.
     
    #2
  3. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    19,558
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Once you start slicing your returns, it is difficult to break out of the habit for at least the remainder of the set. You need to go for your returns right off the bat and at least see if you can hit through the ball. The slice return is always going to be there as a backup if you need it.

    Do you play doubles? The reason I ask is that it is much more difficult to get away with a slice return and it forces you to come through your returns.
     
    #3
  4. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Oh haha, Im an amateur bodybuilder as well. I know its not good for my tennis game, but at times it proves to be helpful because i can outpower most people. It also helps my serve because im short, but my upper body strength can cover that problem.
     
    #4
  5. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Good question- the reason I asked about slice returns is because im starting to play doubles as well. I find that people just absolutely murder my slice shots. Thats why i want to practice topspin or flat returns.
     
    #5
  6. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    Messages:
    3,249
    Location:
    Bedford,Massachusetts,US
    Pl get in touch

    If you are from a Boston area please get in touch with me via an E-mail
    Please see my signature below
     
    #6
  7. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,110
    Until you develop a more driving return, your slice can still be effective. Just do a high floater deep to the middle of no man's land. (Nadal does that often.) Assuming you're a baseliner.
     
    #7
  8. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Oh sorry I live in Canada
     
    #8
  9. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Yes I agree. My backhand slice is very effective and can draw lots of misses. However my forehand slice is very weak and often too short.
     
    #9
  10. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    If you have friends with big serves have them practice serves to you. You practice actually hitting them back with top spin.
     
    #10
  11. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Ok so bascially practice makes perfect. But I still would like to know if I should drive through the ball more or return with spin. Or does that depend on the speed of the serve?
     
    #11
  12. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    590
    I always try to drive the ball more. A slice only going to get you into the point unless you place it very well and can really put you at a disadvantage if it pops up a little short. Drive the ball deep with good pace and you are in pretty good shape to start the point unless you put the ball right on their racket.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
    #12
  13. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    19,558
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I like to put returns in the court so I go for more spin. A few of my opponents love to tee off on my 2nd serve with flat returns. They have a few winners but also quite a few misses.
     
    #13
  14. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Ok, so it really depends on the speed/height of the ball. So on higher slower balls I should rip through flatter(maybe down the line?), and on lower balls I should brush up deep cross court? Where do most advanced players place their returns?
     
    #14
  15. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    This is my opinion.
    Against a big server you need to just redirect the first serves back to hopefully neutralise the serve. Hard to do. So just focus on meeting the ball properly and use the pace of the serve for your return. On second serves it is my belief that you should attempt to at least get the point to neutral. Good servers have good second serves too so that is hard to do as well. But it is easier to rip a return if you happen to get one that sits up in your strike zone.

    Good Big servers are used to winning their serves. You need to accept that fact he will win most. Your job is to at all costs hold your own serve. And do something to break his confidence enough to get a break on his serves. To do this you need to have a return he feels if he let's up even a little you will take control of the point. Do this enough times and he might crack enough for a break.

    So you need to have a driving return with placement. He needs to know if he gives you anything in your wheelhouse you will pound it. If all your doing is floating them back it does nothing to rattle him. He knows he can go safer on his serves and still control the point.

    So practice returns.
     
    #15
  16. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    On higher slower 2nd serves to the fh rip it DTL. Both sides. Or severe angle cross court to pull him wide. To neutralise a good second serve just high and deep with a lot of pace and top spin.

    It also depends what the opponent doesn't like
     
    #16
  17. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Thank you for clarifying things.
    I think these are very good points. I noticed that my serve falls apart when I feel pressured that the opponent could threaten me with a driving shot off my second serve. So it should be the same for other servers as well. Sorry to ask one more question(you seem to know a lot about returns) What is considered good placement on a block return off a strong first serve?
     
    #17
  18. arche3

    arche3 Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    5,389
    Well against really good servers with a big first I consider a good return one that goes in the court. Lol. Even if you watch pros you will notice they are just trying to get it into the court however they can. Good servers have a lot of variety. Or just too much heat to deal with effectively.
    If the guy serves big but lacks variety I'd suggest anticipating the same serve and picking a spot he doesn't like. Usually I like to hit it back at his feet deep middle of the court or the BH corner is always safer. The thing is if you block back a serve it is really a defensive shot. It you give too much angle you will get run around like mad. I'd stay away from most peoples fhs blocking a return.
    The point is if your talking about people with real consistent and strong serves you can only hope to bring the point to neutral. And any easy second serve openings you have to take control of the point because they won't come too often.

    So the best way to be a better returner is to make your own serve better so you can take more chances on your serve returns. Since you have less chances of losing your own serve.
     
    #18
  19. Bowtiesarecool

    Bowtiesarecool Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    Messages:
    257
    Location:
    New Smyrna Beach, FL
    For me, I had to focus on leading with the hand and letting the racquet come around on it's own. Otherwise, I found myself taking too much of a backswing on the return.
     
    #19
  20. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Ya you're right. Most pros just block back huge serves(except djokovic).
    And because I have taken up my game to the next level I'm facing other top juniors. Some of my opponents can place the ball perfectly in the corners with great speed, so its hard for me to break. I myself have a powerful service game, but I have a bad return game.
     
    #20
  21. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Ya I have heard that shrotening the backswing reduces errors
     
    #21
  22. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2005
    Messages:
    9,087
    Practice is one thing, and of course it's important. But I think it's also as important if you have the mentality of "I'm not going to get pushed back."

    Sometimes it's rewarding to be aggressive on returns.
     
    #22
  23. BruceD

    BruceD Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Las Vegas, baby!
    start with a continental grip and find a wall or backboard to start hitting at, close, about 5' away and hit a soft shot, leading with your elbow, keeping your wrist pretty firm.
    Lean on to the shot a little, but let the strings do the work at this point.
    start backing up a foot or two at a time, hitting with a little more pace, each time. If you can LEAN on the slice, your weight will help make it a more penetrating, skidding shot that your opponents will have a hard time with.
    You can also use it to set up a late surprise appearance at the net. Just float it down the line and as your op is concentrating on watching it bounce, follow it to the net for an easy volley.
    The slice backhand volley can have as much or MORE pace on it, safely, than a topspin volley. Use your racquet head like a shield at the net, to pick off shots with angles and touch, leaving shots out of reach of your opponent.
    Ken Rosewall was the last men's player that had a hard, penetrating slice. Federer rarely puts much on it, these days, since he's fallen in love with his topspin backhand. I watched Johnny Mac play in a Champions Series match and he's hitting a better slice than ever, with a new-tech racquet, strung pretty low in tension.
    Also, use it for high kick serve returns. I'm 5'6", when on my feet and used it a lot, years ago, as much as I do now. now.
    Yeah, I like the slice backhand..a lot!
    Now, ask me about a slice/chip FOREHAND, that's NOT just a "sqwash shot"!
     
    #23
  24. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2012
    Messages:
    1,294
    FH slice return - it's the same as a FH volley. OP I suspect your FH volley maybe flawed... try this visual.

    imagine there is a big piece of cardboard on your right side facing the target. you are gonna put your upper arm, elbow, forearm, racket shaft, racket face... everything on that cardboard..... now this is a very heavy unit. and you are gonna chip/block that serve back with this entire unit.

    I believe this will fix your FH return and FH volley :)
     
    #24
  25. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Oh on the contrary I am one of the most deft volleyers at my age (u16). My forehand volley is pretty versatile, but i admit that I occasionally miss those slow floaters from overhitting. But thanks anyways ill definitely try out that tip.
     
    #25
  26. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Ya I love backhand slices- against juniors its especially effective.Its both a great defensive shot and a good offensive shot if played well. I often charge the net after a skidding dtl slice.
     
    #26
  27. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1,954
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    I'm not qualified to offer any advice, but here's a vid of a couple of my forehand returns ... not sliced but more or less flat.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PERTN3ranI

    And here's a vid of a well-placed backhand slice return:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnwanVPJzYI
     
    #27
  28. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1,954
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    I love backhand slices too. Here's a few examples:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ7Yuq4spD8
     
    #28
  29. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2012
    Messages:
    1,294
    ok that's good :)

    let me correct myself by saying that the FH slice return is the same as the 1st volley, where you have to hit it solid and deep... (not the 2nd volley which is angled off drop shot :)
     
    #29
  30. BCTennis

    BCTennis New User

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Ya you mean those volleys around the service line and half volleys right? Yes I do miss those sometimes but its not a big problem like my forehand return :)
     
    #30
  31. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2012
    Messages:
    1,294
    yes, the service line volley....

    so for the return, once you have the solid unit on the 'cardboard', just move your weight forward (by stepping forward with the left foot), and allow this heavy cardboard to collide with the ball, you should produce solid penetrating chip returns every time :)

    in my own experience, I'd say 50% of the power comes from the left foot stepping forward, and the other 50% comes from the right chest muscle contracting.

    the arm is passive... it's main job is to maintain the unit as 1 solid piece, and make sure that the cardboard always faces 1 direction (instead of flopping up towards the sky or down towards the ground).
     
    #31
  32. BruceD

    BruceD Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Las Vegas, baby!
    Hit it at his feet!

    If he's stalking the baseline, mix up wide shots with shots hit at his feet!
    IF he can adjust quickly by backing up/sideways, he may have time to crack off a inside-out forehand. You probably will NOT get a return aimed right back at you, or pulled down the line, if he is rushed by a powerful and/or well placed shot at their toes.
     
    #32
  33. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    3,990
    Location:
    1313 Mockingbird Lane.
    watch a lot of murray. notice that almost exaggerated looking deep split step and smooth low to high motion on his returns. he just uses their pace and redirects it back to the middle of the court.
    its hard to get out of the habit of slicing returns back, and that habit will get you killed.
     
    #33

Share This Page