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Golden Retriever 05-25-2004 10:34 PM

Should I slice all my backhand?
I just can't hit a topspin backhand no matter how I try. I tried to hit it with 2hands and one but I just can't seem to hit it with any consistency at all. I know the technique well but I just can't do it right. I guess it is my destiny to not be able to hit a topspin backhand. On the other hand my backhand slice is one of my best shots. I can keep it low and deep at will. I can also handle high balls and lob with ease. The only drawback is that I can't hit it with much pace but I can hit it all day without error. So should I just throw in the towel, forget about topspin on the backhand side and just slice everything? I play predominantly on hardcourts so slices if kept low shouldn't get me into any real troubles.

JohnThomas1 05-26-2004 12:15 AM

Keep playing the slice in matches, but keep using it in practise until you feel confident enough to try it out at times in low level or social matches. Have you had an expert go over it with you?

Cypo 05-26-2004 01:17 AM

Almost only slicing the backhand worked for Steffi Graf. If you decide to only hit slice, I would reccommend being able at least to either keep it low or float it deep. Most players will pick up that you only play it low and will be waiting for it before too long.

But as JT1 said - don't give up trying to learn a variation. Two handed, flat, topsin - one of them will surely feel right. Personally I would recommend the two handed because it compliments the slice the best - 1) the balls can be taken later so you have a solid stroke when you're late, and 2) the balls have good depth and topspin so it keeps the opponent off balance. On the other hand a lot of people say it's confusing to yourself as well, but I think you get a feel pretty quickly for which ball wants which shot.

chadw01 05-26-2004 06:30 AM

Continue to work on your topsin/flat backhand - although relying on slice may have worked for Steffi, let's face it.. most of us need as much help as we can get.

I find it very easy to play someone who hits exclusively with slice on one side. It's very each to approach and attack that side by giving it a lot of pace as you know as a net player that it's not going to come back as fast as it left your racquet.

Golden Retriever 05-26-2004 07:33 AM

I usually use underspin lob to deter net rushers. Not about to attempt a pass with a backhand slice.

chadw01 05-26-2004 08:33 AM

Underspin/slice lob to deter volleyers, huh..?

Well if you can hit that shot consistently (including on the run), then more power to ya - that's a really tough shot.

Anyhow, like I said.. keep practicing the topspin. If it's pathetically bad now, how can it get any worse? Get an instructor to break down your stroke if you still can't get it right..

Bungalo Bill 05-26-2004 09:52 AM

If you can do it on the forehand you can do it on the backhand. The ball doesnt care which side you hit topspin from. It only cares how the racquet meets the ball. If you're not hitting topspin, then you got to get the racquet lower then the ball before going up through it. Look at your forehand swing in slow motion and find out how it gets lower then the ball then comes up to meet it, then duplicate th swing path for your backhand.

It is easier to get your racquet below the ball on the forehand. On the backhand you almost have to feel "weird" getting lower, that you think you're not going to hit it right - then trust it and swing up with a level racquet and perpendicular racquet face to the court.

The first thing you should do is practice over and over again on slow balls, then increase the pace - really loop it. You will suddenly see you can do it but you need to learn to do it under pressure.

If you have a good penetrating slice I would hit that as well. If you want to just stick with that - nothing wrong with that idea. Just learn how to mix up the spin and speed and hieght of the ball. You will have to be excellent with your placement hitting the slice all the time.

second_dubs 05-26-2004 12:45 PM

Golden Retriver, I been having the same problem. My 2 hand just is not consistent. During matches I resort to mainly hitting slice. A piece of advice: Make sure you get ur slices DEEP!! Use the slice to back opponents up and throw off their timing. The last thing you want to do is float a ball short and wait for your opponent to crush it. Good luck, have fun.

Joe Oldschool 05-26-2004 02:38 PM

It works for Younes.

Datacipher 05-26-2004 07:13 PM

I prefer all my students learn topspin off both sides period. But you know what? A really good slice alone can take you to the top of the game at any recreational don't worry about it. Use your great slice and relish the challenge of developing that topspin backhand in practice.

Golden Retriever 05-26-2004 08:04 PM

Its good to hear that. I just beat a pusher yesterday who used to beat me all the time by slicing everything on the backhand side except returns.

Frank Silbermann 05-27-2004 07:58 PM

Three options for strengthening your slice backhand
If you want to hit a topspin backhand two-handed, first learn a weak-handed topspin forehand. Then just pull it in so you can keep your dominant hand on the racquet.

If you want to learn an one-handed topspin backhand, be advised that it's a very difficult shot unless you use an extreme grip. (Martina Navratilova was #2 in the world before she learned that shot. Rod Laver "learned to control it" in his last years as an amateur -- when he was winning grand-slam titles.) And people with good slices don't use an extreme grip.

So if you want to strengthen your one-handed backhand, either learn to topspin it via a semi-western grip (all four knuckles near the top of the grip at contact), or simply learn to hit a flatter slice. A slice that rolls backwards very slowly can be a very strong shot indeed -- especially nowadays when so few players are used to receiving them.

Morpheus 05-30-2004 02:23 PM

The problem with the one handed backhand is that if you can't hit a topspin drive, you end up just blocking serves back and it is really tough to break through. I'm guessing that the top spin backhand return is one of the toughest in the game.

A weak backhand just puts pressure on the rest of your game. To those of you who only slice your 1 hander, what do you do on returns?

Max G. 05-30-2004 02:32 PM


Morpheus 05-30-2004 04:26 PM

Well it was a bit of a rhetorical question...but thanks for answering anyway.

finchy 05-31-2004 11:05 AM

slice deep on returns. its good for hard/fast serves.

ibemadskillzz 05-31-2004 04:25 PM

good net players will hit to your backhand and come in and wait for a floater slice and and put it away with a 120 mph volley. On other points, he will chip and charge to your backhand and put it away, then he will S&V after serving to your backhand and put it away. Learn the topspin, it will help you put away short shots to your backhand.

finchy 05-31-2004 04:57 PM

when i lose my confidence with my one handed backhand drive/topspin, i revert to my two hander which i hold like agassi: right hand continental, left hand semi-western.

i pound it right to their face. they only have a milisecond to react and the ball bounces off their racquet and into the net.


Mahboob Khan 05-31-2004 10:35 PM

If you have a good reliable forehand and great court coverage, then your slice backhand would be an asset even though you cannot hit a topspin backhand:

Slice is nice as an approach shot, as a rally change of pace shot, as a drop shot and as a volley shot. The only problem I could see with slice is on a deep ball, and when your opponent is at the net. When pinned deep in the baseline, I would recommend prolong the contact and have more follow=through. And if you cannot pass right away with your slice, use your slice to elicit weaker volley which you can then put away with your forehand.

To sum it up, you can live with slice if you have a good reliable forehand.

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