The Rosewall Skidder?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Laver used to complain about a particular Rosewall backhand shot, he called "the skidder."

    Laver said he hated this shot because the ball did not come up. It would stay very low and and skid--not bounce. He said that if he could get to it and hit it all, he had to "hit it off my shoelaces".

    With my regular hitting partner hitting lots of deep, high-bouncing topspins to my one-handed backhand, I am forced to slice the ball back. (And I have gotten pretty good at it, I do admit.) But my slices seem to sit up, and don't have any of that fabled Rosewall skid quality.

    Does anyone know how I can learn to hit a "Rosewall skidder"?
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
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  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Sorry I think it was patented by that Australian born in 1934.

    Incidentally since I have a one handed backhand I pretend every slightly sliced backhand I hit is something Rosewall would have hit. Probably never succeeded in real life.:cry:

    Hoodjem, in all seriousness I occasionally hit with a friend who played singles on her college team. She is a terrific player but she actually hit sort of a Rosewall skidder with her forehand. It's super hard to return until you have hit against it a few times and a super pain in the neck when she uses it as an approach shot. She has a terrific topspin forehand too but that basically flat slightly sliced skidding forehand is unbelievable. I don't know how she does it. It goes over the net by inches, sometimes inch fractions and she rarely misses on that shot.

    Hoodjem, maybe you should try to flatten your backhand out a little. The extra penetration may make it skid.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
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  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Not easy, especially off a hard shot bouncing high to you.
    1. Stay solid, all body parts forward or stable.
    2. Fully turn, more than normal, your upper body.
    3. Hard forceful high to low stroke, with all your body weight behind it.
    4. For me, best to use a conti grip with a SLIGHT eFOREhand flavor, taken very late, almost level with my hitting shoulder.
    5. Targeted height is 1' over the net. The ball needs enough spin and ball speed to land into NML.
    6. Full followthru across your body and low to add some sidespin to the underspin.
    No 5 is the key, you have to slice hard and low over the net, but hard enough so the low net clearing ball goes all the way to at least NML.
    For most good players who can hit this shot, it comes and goes depending on who you are playing, and of course how you're playing.
     
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  4. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    to make your slice stay lower, try changing your grip more to the forehand side.
    it helps to use a really flexible frame with low string tension. the deepest slice i can hit is with my old wooden rackets
     
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  5. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu Rookie

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    My old school hitting partner hits a great slice "skidder" which most of us at our club are trying to emulate. He has the classic continental on the backhand, strikes it flat and pushes the head thru the ball and cuts the ball with backspin (varies from top-down or with slight side spin too).

    Am an old school player too and rely on the "Rosewall" style slice but my footwork isn't as clean as it use to be so its more like a side slice (how Fed works it). I find having a racquet that is correctly weighted (head) and strung on the medium side helps greatly to counter act the heavy balls of today's players (neutralize in coming shot and have the head to some of the work). When you're body weight is into the shot with the correct technique you'll see the ball hit the court and stay low making it difficult for your opponent to 1) dig it out and 2) make an offensive shot...am actually trying to develop a solid slice forehand too :) Signed: constantly working on it...
     
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  6. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    If you've ever played on an artificial grass tennis court(worst surface in the world) that is slightly damp every good slice (very low over the net, lots of spin) reacts like this.

    I've never played on real grass, maybe it's the same there? It is almost unplayable.

    Rafter was very good at getting his slices unbelievably low.
     
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  7. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Was Rosewall's more of a drive slice? And what about Graf's?
     
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  8. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    This is a very effective shot against the extreme Western forehand grips common today. The key is to hit through the shot and not impart too much slice.
     
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  9. powerslave

    powerslave Rookie

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    Well the only way you can get close to hitting a shot like Rosewall's skidder is to play on grass courts of the type prepared in those days, remember all old players alluding to how the grass courts in those days had this horrible inconsistent bounce ? Also the balls were smaller and bounced relatively lesser in those days (the old white ones). Then you have the rackets too, a modern racket with a large headsize and strung with poly will bite the ball so the slice will have a lot of underspin than what is needed for a shot that skids off the court, for latter you need to hit the ball flatter with just a hint of underspin and not the modern slice which tends to have a lot of under/side spin.
     
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  10. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Sounds like you're just slicing the ball too much. The skidder is a just slightly undercut drive, not a long 'drop shot', and it doesn't sit up ... it skids, stays very low, doesn't lose much pace, and presents difficulties for most (at least most rec) players.

    So, I would guess that the recipe for hitting it is to start by hitting flat backhands, and then just experiment with undercutting them slightly to produce the skidding effect, but not so much that they float and sit up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
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  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Rosewall could hit his backhand with heavy underspin to nearly flat and everything in between. Graf hit a heavy slice backhand much more often than Rosewall. In fact, I can't picture Graf hitting a drive slice. Instead, she did come over the ball on occasion which Rosewall never did.
     
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  12. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I am probably hitting with too much slice, and not enough drive.

    Oh no. If I start hitting flat backhands, I may un-do all the hard work I have put in to learn to hit topspin backhands. (I was taught to hit back in the sixties, when the chip approach was the rage.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
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  13. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    Rosewall had the best control of anyone in his era. His backhand skidded because he could hit it fairly hard by skimming the net and having it land just barely in -- consistently.
     
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  14. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    That type of shot is more a function of the poor quality of the grass surfaces and the technique took advantage of it. I think today his shot just looks like an average slice backhand. If you watch old clips of it, I'm not sure you can reproduce it when you have courts with true bounces.
     
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  15. ced

    ced Semi-Pro

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    This is the key to hitting the "skidder" ...... always w/ OHBH
     
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  16. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Nope. Muscles hit it on clay, indoors, and on cement. It's not a grass only shot.
     
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  17. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu Rookie

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    ...watching the US Open final... Murray's got a pretty good backhand skidder... he hit a couple of nice ones (inside out) in the 4 and 5th sets to elict a Djokovic error or two...Djokovic uses more arm instead of leaning on the shot so his backhand slice tends to sits up...great match! :)
     
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  18. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    The modern slice is a bit different than the shot that Rosewall hit. The modern slice has both back and side spin (in varying amounts). It has good pace (for a slice), stays low, can have a lot of curve, and you're never quite sure when it's going to finally land and bounce. The biggest downside is that you have to get it low over the net, so there's not a lot of margin.

    Here's a good tutorial on the modern slice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II7Wo0y6fC8
     
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  19. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    hoodjem,

    I copied this from a post I made in a thread from 2010 that got some positive feedback. I know you know this already, but here it is:

    Here's a gif of Rosewall's driven slice:

    [​IMG]

    Check the height of his hitting hand from takeback to contact to followthrough. While he demonstrates the classic "U" shaped swing for slice his hand doesn't stray too far above the intended contact point in either the take back or the followthrough. IOW it's a very flat U shaped swing. In an attempt to impart backspin, many players employ an exaggeratedly high take back with their playing hand above shoulder height, even though they are going to make contact at about hip level. That high a takeback sets up for a much more severe downward path of the forward swing, describing nearer a right angle between the path of the ball and the path of the swing. That severe an angle creates a very narrow window requiring exceptional timing for clean contact. The faster the incoming ball the more precise the timing will have to be with a very severe downward motion. Again look at how compact and quiet Rosewall's stroke is, look at the hitting hand, not the racket head. Note how "flat" Rosewall's U-shaped path is.

    This link draws a distintion between the example of Rosewall vs. Federer. Compare the flatness of Rosewall's playing hand to Federer's "relative chopping motion" and to yours.

    http://www.tenniscruz.com/content/view/27/9/

    2) Dr. Jack Groppel, PhD, a tennis coach who bases alot of his coaching on science states in "High Tech Tennis" that if the trajectory or ball flight from the strings to the bounce hit with underspin strikes the court surface at an angle of 45 degrees or greater, the rebound will tend to be greater than that and that in inverse is true at incoming angles less than 45.

    For example a ball which impacts the court at 55 degrees will rebound at an angle of 65 degrees, where everything else being equal a ball impacting the court at 30 degrees will rebound at 28 degrees.

    <edit> also, be mindful of how open the racket face is on contact, no matter how "flat" the U-shaped swing path is if the racket face is too open (facing the sky) that player's slice will tend to float and sit up. While not purely square (90 degrees to the court surface) it should be closer to 90 than 45 or less, depending on the amount of pace applied to a given shot.

    5
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
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  20. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I am not expert on how to hit it but I saw him play live in a small arena. It was a tour of seniors with Laver, Rosewall, Drysdale, McMillian, Stewart and a couple of others.

    Rosewall's bachhand did not have as much spin (slice) as most pros hit today. It was more of a flat drive with a hint of slice.

    Most of the courts during Rosewall's and Laver's prime were fast. All the slams were grass except the French.

    I would think Rosewall's BH hit hard with little spin would have a very low bounce on the grass courts.

    He also hit it surprisingly hard. He could drive a passing shot by a net rusher with it.
     
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  21. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks everyone.
     
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  22. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    Hello Hoodjem, I have been slowly trying to change my backhand slice to be more like Rosewall's (and more old school in general) and it has been paying off. I used to have more of a chop (similar to Federer's) and I sometimes revert to that during a match, but that is another story.

    I have a lot of success with my new slice especially when returning kick serves and handling good approach shots to my one handed backhand. I usually am not able to pass someone with my slice cleanly, but I am at least making them hit a tough volley.
     
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  23. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    NDQ,

    I, too, have a 1HBH. What's the secret of your "new slice"?

    Thanks.
     
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  24. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure if there is a secret. I have actually been working with a local instructor with a focus on changing my backhand specifically. When I began to use more modern grips I also changed my drive backhand grip to be very extreme in order to handle heavy topspin balls, but I am punished by lower balls and excessive pace to that side. That is why I wanted to have a more attacking slice in the bag.

    I try to drive through it more with a Rosewall like finish (the finish on my old slice was much different than this). I still tend to hit it too far out in front and I have to concentrate on moving into it with my body in order to correct this. Usually, if I am able to position myself correctly then I am able to hit slices with more penetration than my old chop. I'm sorry that I can't be more helpful.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
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  25. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    When I first started playing tennis in 1973, I bought a copy of "World Tennis" magazine. They had an instructional article on how to add more power to your game. On the forehand side, the recommended trying to put some topspin on the ball to help bring down hard-hit balls before they would fly long. (They said there were three ways to do this: (1) wrist flick, (2) pull up with the elbow, and (3) a gradually rising swing from the shoulder. The recommended (3) for most readers.)

    On the backhand side, they pointed out that heavy under-spin had the opposite effect, helping hard-hit balls float long. So they recommended that readers try to use less under-spin on their backhands when hitting with power.
     
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  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Guess WorldTennis got it wrong, as most publications do.
    To hit the low skidded slice, you have to take it LATE, almost beside your body, using a weirdo almost forehandy grip (continental, like your serve, wiht a tiny twist towards eFOREHAND. You step into the ball, lean forwards towards the target, slice the ball aggressively clearing the net by no more than 2', closer is better, the ball goes deep into NML and skidds about lower shin heights, dropping quickly from there with almost no spin, or some sidespin only after the skidded bounce.
    Takes an aggressive hitting mindset. This on painted cement courts.
     
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  27. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    ^^ That's a good description of what a slice should do. Funny how on the public courts all I ever see are high-arc, floating slices. Was watching the *fixtures* at my local courts today - these guys who are always there and supposedly the "best" - and all they do is loop these floating slices back and forth.
     
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  28. freeez

    freeez New User

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    Seems like LeeD is on the money.
    i've noticed my slices float when i'm on the run, not in position, or I just need time. To get the hard driving skidding slice I'm setup and focused on on making this particular shot. You really need to be aggressive(eventhough generally a defensiveshot).
     
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  29. BruceG

    BruceG Rookie

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    That's not true in the slightest; none of it. Back in the day the players always complained about the grass at the US Open; used to say it wasn't fit for cows. But Wimbledon was always said to be pristine and the Aussie Open was a quality surface but with more bounce when it baked in the summer heat.

    Seriously dude, I got to watch Rosewall play vets tennis alongside Stan Smith, Bob Lutz, Marty Riessen, Newcombe and Tony Roche and he could hit every type of shot off his backhand. He could hit it flat, with dirty slice, fade it away inside-out or roll it with some top. And he did that on hard courts, not grass. He also did it with an oversize Head graphite racquet. It's called talent and it trumps the racquets, balls, surface and generation.
     
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  30. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

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    I have a very good bh slice for my level and find that to hit the skidder I need to make contact closer to my body while still swinging aggressively. But the timing is quite a bit more difficult so it is a better percentage play to just rip a topspin bh. Unless of course your opponent particularly dislikes low balls, then its time to drive him nuts with the slice.
     
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  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Bingo!
    Closer to the body, more to the side than in front, weak grip, strong aggressive swing, firm stance, leaning forwards slightly.
    It's used mainly against western grip topspinners, or guys who don't like a shin high ball, which can be anybody.
    Usually, in practice, it's hit for about 10 minutes straight, without a topspin or conventional slice to throw form into disarray. After than, you can practice your topspin backhands and wide defensive backhands. Of course, this is the stuff of practice partner level tennis. YOU help him, he helps you, to get better and better.
     
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  32. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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  33. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    #33
  34. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    #34
  35. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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  36. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    you mean the DTL slice winner?
    it was ok, yea. not with much drive though.

    anyway it was mainly the crappy grass ;)
     
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  37. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    #37
  38. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    It appears that Rosewall scoops under the ball more than chops down across the back (as I do).
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2012
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  39. thor's hammer

    thor's hammer Semi-Pro

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    #39
  40. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    Superb vid clip which is more valuable than all the thread descriptions, as well as the above bh sequence. I think the telling clue to how muscles flattens out the slider with his initial open face contact is the pull-up follow thru and how his wrist allows the impact adjustment. Surely helps to use the same grip and similar stroke mechanics.
     
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  41. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Yes, great videos. Hoad's volleys were excellent, i read that he shortened his rackets shafts (Dunlop), to reduce backswing. Rosewall's backhand was no real slice, more a slight underspin drive. Interesting are the unorthodox groundies of Trabert. Looks very powerful, like a bulldozer (like Courier later), his backhand drive was one of the best of all time, he hit it early in front with the force of his whole body and got much power and leverage with it.
     
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  42. thor's hammer

    thor's hammer Semi-Pro

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    I used to hit with a friend who would laughingly refer to some of my shots (forehand and backhand) as "power slice". An aggressive (not floaty) underspin drive through a high (well above the waist or even shoulder) ball. When hit right results in a very hard/fast shot that stays really low, particularly when playing on fast surfaces, which used to be pretty common at older public park courts that hadn't been resurfaced in a while.

    I don't play with them regularly, but have a couple old wood Jack Kramer Autographs, and when you connect just right on a "power slice" with those heavy wooden rackets it is amazing how the ball shoots through the court! Deadly!

    I hope to live to see the day when a modern player pops up with "power slice" shots that are truly offensive, not just a changeup, slice rally ball or something to resort to when stretched. It would be cool to see someone playing that way give a beatdown to modern topspinners.

    A boy can dream, can't he? ;-)
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013
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