Follow-through of backhand slice

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by fortissimo, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. fortissimo

    fortissimo New User

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    I was told (or rather shown) by someone that the backhand slice follow-through should arch upward a bit after contact, in stark contrast to the drop shot which has the racquet chipping downward toward the feet (which I've seen Federer do a million times, especially in the match he lost in the 2018 US Open... given his success in that match with the drop shot, this may not be the best example, LOL).

    Players tell me I have a nasty backhand slice (lots of pace, low-bouncing and just "skips" off the ground). My natural follow-through is more downward oriented.

    When you put topspin on a ball, your racquet's follow-through is high, sometimes super high (for a reverse forehand), or sometimes even "level" for a flatter shot. Wouldn't it stand to reason that the opposite spin on the ball (backspin) would also have an opposite follow-through (low, or at least no higher than "level")? To have the racquet finish a slice higher than the point of contact just seems counter-intuitive to me.

    Also just curious: Is this element of technique is universally accepted, or is there any controversy among good instructors about how the backhand slice should finish? Are there examples of this with pros? Should a forehand slice (not a defensive one but a neutral/offensive one) have a similar upward follow-through?
     
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  2. Dan R

    Dan R Rookie

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    You know that's how I've been taught to hit a slice - swing relatively flat and cut under the ball and lift on the follow through. I'm questioning that especially if I watch Federer, who might have the best slice ever. He is cutting down on the ball and his follow through is fairly low. I've heard people say yes, but he's hitting the ball on the rise and so the downward motion matches the path of the ball. In the video below he's hitting balls that are low, high, rising, just starting to drop all the same. Frankly, I'm going to start hitting it this way.

    I think the key to a good slice is a strong wrist. You can see that his wrist is cocked at all times. I think that's more important than the swing path. You see so many club players that slice with the wrist bent the other way and the produces a weak inconsistent shot. IMO

     
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  3. Dan R

    Dan R Rookie

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    That said you don't want to chop down excessively on the ball that's too hard to time, especially with balls that are low but the swing path is not level either.
     
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  4. Big Bagel

    Big Bagel Semi-Pro

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    Generally following through up is better; it's a safer swing path and helps the ball go deeper easier. The chop follow through is more difficult to time and is harder to hit a deep, penetrating slice, but will have more spin. I always teach people to finish up, but if someone can hit it with a chop finish, I'm not going to correct them. Most people when they go for the chop finish will have very inconsistent depth and usually float the ball so it sits up. As Dan R mentioned, the chop finish is also much more difficult on low balls, whereas the higher finish can be hit with any ball.

    Both can be hit equally as effective, but for lower-level players, consistency is generally greater with finishing up. If you can hit the chop finish though, go for it. If it works, don't change it.
     
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  5. Dan R

    Dan R Rookie

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    I would agree with this. I think a good reminder is to try and match the path of the racket to the path of the ball. So if the ball is dropping the racket should be rising up to meet the ball. If the ball is rising the racket should be dropping into the path of the ball. You can't do this precisely if you're putting spin on the ball (either top spin or slice spin), but generally you want to adjust the path accordingly.
     
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  6. Wise one

    Wise one Semi-Pro

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    The chip, chop, and slice are all different, but start from the same preparation.
     
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  7. fortissimo

    fortissimo New User

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    Dan R, thanks very much for posting that video. What you say makes sense. I honestly don't know if my wrist maintains its shape through follow-through - this probably is the key.
     
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  8. Slicerman

    Slicerman Semi-Pro

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    I actually don't believe in hitting the same way for every slice backhand. IMO, the swing needs to be adjusted depending on the incoming ball. I don't even think about the finish, I just think about how I need to shape the shot, and the follow through becomes a byproduct of that. But for my standard slice I tend to lean into the shot more and finish cross the body in a forward but downward swing. Occasionally I might swipe down vertically on certain balls, like when I'm receiving a high ball around or above shoulder height and I want to simply neutralize it back deep. Against hard hit flat shots I may swipe downwards because the ball already has pace on it so you don't need to risk driving the ball. You can also lean into a hard flat ball with slice, but it needs to be hit more conservatively with a shorter swing. If you're on defense and you're getting to the ball late then you may also need to swipe downwards as well. Whatever the situation sometimes you can add extra drive in the slice if you supinate into the shot.
     
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  9. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    I think it heavily depends on the ball height, pace, spin...
     
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  10. sredna42

    sredna42 Semi-Pro

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    Same as throwing a frisbee, best tip i ever got for slice.
     
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  11. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation G.O.A.T.

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    My tennis development was a little bit upside-down in that I learned a slice backhand before anything else. I was lucky enough (or maybe cursed?) to be able to learn and play on grass courts in the summers, so I had to hit lots of balls that were down around my shins and also take up a serve and volley game right away. Now that I teach and coach, I can tell you that this counter-intuitive shot demands an extra dose of patience, both for teaching it and also when learning it.

    First let's consider the swing path through the ball. A topspin stroke reverses the spin of the ball after it has bounced off the court surface, but not the slice. This shot keeps the ball turning in the same direction when we send it back toward the other end of the court. That's why a topspin stroke needs a little extra low-to-high or "angular" contact across the back of the ball to create that topspin. A slice can run the racquet face almost level through the back of the ball and still sustain that backspin, underspin... the same spin it had after bouncing on the court.

    We don't need to add much of that backspin when hitting a slice (if any), so a stroke that's too high-to-low can be, um, the opposite of helpful. That heavy downward chopping is pretty much only good for producing a drop shot - it doesn't put much of any drive on the slice.

    You're right in terms of the follow through not necessarily needing to finish higher than the contact point with a slice. But I can say that when I slice a ball that's down rather low (knee high or lower), my follow through might finish higher than my contact point just so that I can stay balanced instead of lunging over just to keep my racquet down low well after it has hit the ball. It just needs to be on a downward path through the ball.

    Again, the slice is counter-intuitive compared with a regular topspin stroke. Contact happens with a slice very quickly after the racquet starts forward - the follow through can easily be longer than the racquet's forward swing to contact with a slice. It's okay though - the follow through encourages a proper move through contact and not just to contact. If the move through the slice stops early, the racquet gets too far ahead of the body, the racquet face opens up, slides under the ball too much, and produces a weak floater.

    When I teach a slice, I encourage the hitter to think of starting the racquet slightly above the ball and then taking it forward through the ball. As long as the racquet starts forward from the right height, it will have to gently descend through contact and not get too high-to-low choppy. The full follow through is good for balance, but also good for sustaining a proper arm and racquet orientation through the ball if the hand leads the racquet all the way to the finish.
     
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  12. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

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    for me,
    low balls (up to waist)... tends to be a high/low/high swing path (like a smiley face)
    high balls (above waist)... tend to be a chop down high to low (and across)

    i find that to add heavier spin (ie. maybe to scrub pace of a fast ball, or a ball i'm late on), i tend to finish more across my body... sometimes, i'll finish across to add more spin, on a say an approach shot, even if it's low.

    my $0.02
     
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