pure slice serve??,,,

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Hi....
I know I've said that I hit a top/slice serve, but a few hours ago, actually tried hitting a pure sidespin slice serve as a variety and counter to my normal app. 5' high bouncing top slice first and second serves. This one goes only about waist high quite often, is faster than my top/slice, and for today at least, almost competitive with no practice time. Even stranger, I can place it pretty well, easily to all 3 quadrants of either duece or ad, without prior practice.
Obviously, the need for this came on when I found opponent's who were successfully dinking my serves really short and angled, and since I'm hobbled physically, I could barely get there.....and miss the reply from 3' distance from the net.
Do any of you use both top/slice and pure slice serves? I"m confused enough with my toss locations for flat and twist serves, so maybe too many weapons equals no good weapons?
Anyways, it worked today, we'll see on Wednesday.
 

Fuji

Legend
I don't think it's possible to hit a "pure" slice serve, but I do like to hit a good slider. My shoulder still isn't healed enough to get the range of motion for a twist, but I can hit decent midpace sliders all day long all over the box without any discomfort. I think it's due to the fact that the toss doesn't have to go remotely close to behind my head, and I can just hit it off where I serve my flat serves.

Slice serves work really well for people who don't face them often. Especially if you can get them going into the body. It's definitely an underrated serve in my experience.

-Fuji
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Yeah, I was watching an aging ex Open level on the next court, using low skidded slice serves that never came up above upper thigh heights.
The two opponent's I was playing against just kept mishitting really short, angled wierdly spinning returns of serves off my high bouncing top/slices to their backhands, and I was getting frustrated running up all that way just to retrieve their mishits.
Hence the sidespin skidder slices, into the body, for 4 serves and a comeback from 1-4 down to a 7-5 win.
 

mightyrick

Legend
I've tried it, Lee. I can't do it. Not without modifying where I stand -- which is a dead giveaway in singles.

I won't be able to hit a real slice serve until I correct my service motion. That's next on the list.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Well, I'm sure I'll never duplicate it again.
Strange though, even though I said I thought there was no need for a sidespin slice serve, that one bounces only hip high, sometimes lower, while my normal top/slice first and second serves bounce up around armpit heights, or in Shroud's case, over his head..:):) Well, against Shroud, I was hitting as hard as I could swing, control be darned, since he's a good guy and fellow TW poster.
I think I hold my racket differently on slice serves than top/slice, less angle between the racket and the forearm, almost like a flat serve grip, which seems to allow me to hit my slices with the same exact toss as my first flat tosses.
Anyways, there's almost no arc in the flight of the ball thru the air until it lands inside the service line, so the bounce is much lower than expected from a spin serve. Or maybe I was blinded serving into the morning sun (me lefty), and didn't spot the arc. On twist and top/slices, I see a huge rounded arc tru the air from the ball.
 

Fuji

Legend
I've tried it, Lee. I can't do it. Not without modifying where I stand -- which is a dead giveaway in singles.

I won't be able to hit a real slice serve until I correct my service motion. That's next on the list.
That's interesting. I find the slice is the one serve I can hit no matter where I stand. It's just such an easy serve to hit with a fluid motion (for me, obviously YMMV!)

-Fuji
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I only did the slice serve to vary the height of the bounce, since the opponent's seemed grooved in on my top/slice safe serves.
I'll probably just keep it in the bag until I find another opponent who returns my serves every time with a mishit into the short corners of my court.
 

GoudX

Professional
I was having a huge amount of success hitting a big serve with a mixture of both slice and topspin yesterday. I managed to get three aces out wide from the deuce side and plenty of UEs/Sitters from the returner. Usually my pure topspin, kick and flat serves are my main serves.

As a spin serve, my 'pure slice' is the most telegraphed shot in the world, as I cannot hit it with anything like the same toss or motion as my other serves - and as I cannot place it particularly well it is more of a trick shot than a weapon. However I do find that adding a bit of sidespin to a flat serve is a good variation for body serves.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Every once in a while I would employ a sidearm slice serve. It is more of a novelty serve rather than one of my "normal" serves. The toss for this extreme slice serve is way off to the side rather than a more conventional toss placement. Instead of a shoulder-over-shoulder (cartwheel) action, the torso rotates with a spin axis that is nearly vertical.

The serve I am referring to is somewhat similar to the 2nd server in the video below. My toss might be even more to the left (as a lefty server) than this guy. I will sometimes employ an unconventional stance for my super-sidepsin serve -- my feet are side by side (hips facing the net) rather than let foot back. A right-handed server can employ such a serve on the deuce side rather than the ad side. If I recall correctly, Brad Gilbert (or one of Bryan bros) demonstrated a similar serve as part of a warmup sequence in a Sportskool instruction video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu8TBL7msJg
 

arche3

Banned
How did your served get returned by rec players? You have a 5.0 serve and volley game. Thats atp level according to you. And when did shroud reach 5.0? He must of improved fast to keep up with you.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Shroud is solid hitting 4.0. Only YOU said he was a 5.0, nobody else.
The "opponent's" yesterday was the NorCal No.4 JuniorGirl's 12 and her sis. They didn't hit any ANY solid returns off my serves. They would mishit or double hit, my partner shellshocked, and goofball it with wierdo spin about 3' over the net, my partner still shellshocked, so I had to run forwards, and you know I can't run, to try a silly ridiculous drop angle.
After they returned 2 each, I decided to try to stop the nonsense. NO, I didn't warmup any serves before my service game, so I didn't hit flat serves at all.
Almost nobody, and that includes some real USTA League 4.5's, can consistently hit with topspin, when I get my first serve IN, regardless of flat, twist, or top/slice.
Of course, even a 3.5 who knows my serve can lob it back, or chop a short weak, slow return off my serves.
I WILL be hitting with a few 4.5's who probably will try to hit topspin return of serves, and they might, if my serves go awry and start to spray.
Problem is, since I can't run, I can't take advantage of the slow, weak, high returns off my serves.
 

arche3

Banned
Shroud is solid hitting 4.0. Only YOU said he was a 5.0, nobody else.
The "opponent's" yesterday was the NorCal No.4 JuniorGirl's 12 and her sis. They didn't hit any ANY solid returns off my serves. They would mishit or double hit, my partner shellshocked, and goofball it with wierdo spin about 3' over the net, my partner still shellshocked, so I had to run forwards, and you know I can't run, to try a silly ridiculous drop angle.
After they returned 2 each, I decided to try to stop the nonsense. NO, I didn't warmup any serves before my service game, so I didn't hit flat serves at all.
Almost nobody, and that includes some real USTA League 4.5's, can consistently hit with topspin, when I get my first serve IN, regardless of flat, twist, or top/slice.
Of course, even a 3.5 who knows my serve can lob it back, or chop a short weak, slow return off my serves.
I WILL be hitting with a few 4.5's who probably will try to hit topspin return of serves, and they might, if my serves go awry and start to spray.
Problem is, since I can't run, I can't take advantage of the slow, weak, high returns off my serves.
Well I don't see how anyone can return your serves. If your really a 5.0 level doubles player. You can't run. Only go for winners. Your serve must be 125plus to keep at 5.0 level. Do you still claim 5.0 doubles? Or was that a lie also like the whole wta thing?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Very few Open level players use their flat first serves every single time. Mostly, they spin one head high wide to your backhand, come to service line position, first volley low and moderately deep, then continue another step and a half forwards to around 3' inside the service line, to await the reply.
So, while you didn't know this, that first serve, hit with a combination of top and some component of side, is usually poking in around 85-90 mph, plenty to get the job done. I can easily spin one in around that speed, plus, I"m lefty.
As for "5.0" level doubles...... if someone of your skill level was to pick a partner for 5.0 doubles, you would not pick me. I can't run, first off. However, if you had bothered to play some doubles with or against me (not talking YOU, Arche3 particularly, but a similar skill level 4.5-5.0 player), you'd find I can volley at that level, I can serve into 3 different quadrants of the opponent's service court, hit those quadrants with flat, top/slice, top, or twist serves (I didn't mention slice because it's new to me and not yet IN my quiver), and I can mostly slice low mid NML returns, and topspin my backhand on anything slower than around 100 if I"m confident and loose.
Some would say my slice backhand returns a liability, but I have played enough Open level doubles in the past, and know enough to preplan a slow hard slice DTL once I notice the netperson start to get anxious to cover the middle.
Other than that, I DO have a weakness to favor my backhand overhead, a weak shot with good placement, over a leaping backwards normal overhead.
And when my first serve goes all adithers, which it CAN occassionally, I often resort to just hammering my second top/slice with as much rackethead speed as I can possibly swing (not double faulting), but usually mindlessly placed. That's not always so bad, as the bounce height should normally get it up to chin heights for even the tallest players (6'4" and taller). And, it's lefty, and hopefully, my netman isn't shellshocked into a quagmire of mud.
 

AtomicForehand

Hall of Fame
I use a sidearm slice in both the deuce and ad courts. Sometimes I get so much slice on the ball that it looks like it's going wide in the ad court and curves all the way in to hit right in the corner of the T. It's an awesome serve. I had an opponent call it out yesterday when it was clearly an ace though. :(
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Yeah, I used to have a practice partner, who played B's (4.5) who served like that. He'd hit the serve maybe 45 mph, but the rightie slice made me step 7' inside my baseline and directly past my doubles alley to get a racket on the ball.
There is a 4.5 at our courts, JC, who serves similarly to that.
Trouble with my old practice partner, he was 6'4" tall, could pound a flat 120+ heater (out, of course), was that he ONLY used that serve in tournament play, so would not advance past the 3rd round of B's.
I"m not sure why he didn't use both the flat, his normal second top/slice, AND that sidways corkscrew softie in the same match.
 

arche3

Banned
Very few Open level players use their flat first serves every single time. Mostly, they spin one head high wide to your backhand, come to service line position, first volley low and moderately deep, then continue another step and a half forwards to around 3' inside the service line, to await the reply.
So, while you didn't know this, that first serve, hit with a combination of top and some component of side, is usually poking in around 85-90 mph, plenty to get the job done. I can easily spin one in around that speed, plus, I"m lefty.
As for "5.0" level doubles...... if someone of your skill level was to pick a partner for 5.0 doubles, you would not pick me. I can't run, first off. However, if you had bothered to play some doubles with or against me (not talking YOU, Arche3 particularly, but a similar skill level 4.5-5.0 player), you'd find I can volley at that level, I can serve into 3 different quadrants of the opponent's service court, hit those quadrants with flat, top/slice, top, or twist serves (I didn't mention slice because it's new to me and not yet IN my quiver), and I can mostly slice low mid NML returns, and topspin my backhand on anything slower than around 100 if I"m confident and loose.
Some would say my slice backhand returns a liability, but I have played enough Open level doubles in the past, and know enough to preplan a slow hard slice DTL once I notice the netperson start to get anxious to cover the middle.
Other than that, I DO have a weakness to favor my backhand overhead, a weak shot with good placement, over a leaping backwards normal overhead.
And when my first serve goes all adithers, which it CAN occassionally, I often resort to just hammering my second top/slice with as much rackethead speed as I can possibly swing (not double faulting), but usually mindlessly placed. That's not always so bad, as the bounce height should normally get it up to chin heights for even the tallest players (6'4" and taller). And, it's lefty, and hopefully, my netman isn't shellshocked into a quagmire of mud.
Ok wutever. I can't read all that. Your doubles 5.0 ok. I believe you.
 

arche3

Banned
I have a slice puff serve I use sometimes. It is so slow it will bounce twice before it hits the doubles alley line. Usually an ace.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Yes, my serve sucks now that I turned over 40, 25 years ago.
It's about 20+ slower than before, on my first flats.
OTOH, I"m probably more than twice as slow, I broadjump 2' 6" shorter, and it seems girls in their 20's aren't attracted to me anymore.
I can still throw a tennis ball from behind my baseline to OVER the fence and close to, or just barely over the net of the adjoining court. That is actually very hard to spot, since a bit of energy was used to throw, but the ball lands at the back of the baseline of the adjoining court, either bouncing over, flying over, or rolling under the net.
In 3.5-4.0 doubles, my serve is the Alpha in speed by far.
Adding the USTA 4.5 League team, SanPablo, I'd say my serve is the 3rd fastest, and so would the guys who had to return it. One of the guys is 6'4", a Brit who really can pound the ball, not like you typical rightie pusher 4.5's.
But other 4.5 league teams have more fast servers, I think.
On Albert's Park's state winning USTA 4.0 team, I have by far the fastest first flat serve of 11 of the 12 members. I haven't seen every single one of the players play.
But to you, my serve just sucks, so it's OK with me.
 

winstonlim8

Professional
I'm so jealous of you guys. I can't hit a real slice serve wide to the forehand except by accident. When I serve to the forehand in the deuce court, it's always a bit too flat or has some topspin so it almost never swings out low to one side properly. I only use it as a change of direction from my regular flat-topspin down the center or into the body.

I can serve out wide to the backhand in the Ad court but not in the Deuce Court because I hit mostly from 7 o'clock out and up mostly, I think.
 
Last edited:

10sGrinder

New User
An instructor taught me a slice serve at my first lesson. He says the slice was the basis for all serves. He says the topspin serve motion is just the same as his sidearm slice, the ball is just tossed in a different place, as in over his head and more out in front. It kind of made sense and my first goal was to hit the slice serve consistently, which wasnt' too hard. Now working on the topspin. Anyone else move through this kind of progression? Would you agree?
 

mightyrick

Legend
I hate it when that happens. As I hit very heavy serves and angled groundstrokes this happens much too often to me!
I used to think as you guys, but I've stood on the sidelines calling balls on few matches and now I think differently seeing things from the side.

When the ball is traveling fast and low... there are many balls that look like they are "in"... which are actually "out". The returner usually stands too far back to be able to call it -- because their viewing angle makes it appear as if the incoming ball hits the line.

I cannot tell you how many balls I called "out" over the course of three matches which both sides thought were clearly in.

The kick serves with a lot of topspin were much easier for everyone to call. But the flat and slice serves... the server/returner got the line calls wrong most of the time.

I'm sure professional players are better at this. They understand what an "in" ball is supposed to look like depending on its incoming angle and their viewing angle.
 
I used to go for the big power serve on all my first serves with a twist second serve. The 1st serve, when it went in (35-50%) earned a lot of winners, but on off days it led to a lot of double faults. Now I only whip that out 1 or 2 times a service game, and I mix in slices, topspin kicks and twists to varying spots and play serve/volley 1 or 2 times as well. The theory being that it keeps the returner uncomfortable and helps me increase my first serve %.

I'm sure higher level guys would read my setup and swing and be able to anticipate the spins, but it's working well for me at 3.5.

The slice out wide on deuce side serve/volley is the most fun I can possibly have on the tennis court when it is done right.
 

LuckyR

Legend
This thread strikes me as humourously interesting.

Back in the day (mid to late 70's, ie the Golden Age of american tennis participation), the "pure" slice serve was often the first serve players learned as it struck a nice balance between a honed throwing motion, yet had enough spin to give a higher success rate (than a flat serve). Lee's experience in being able, with little to no practice, to place it anywhere he wanted illustrates this point, it is a very easy to learn serve.

I use it to this day in every match. Mostly to go crazy wide in the deuce court or crazy up the T from a serving position near the sideline (we're talking doubles) in the ad court. But it is also a good trick "change up" serve since extremely high racquethead speeds, if put almost exclusively into spin, can result in a motion that looks like a rocket is coming at you but the ball barely clears the net with tons of spin, yet doesn't kick up, sometimes fooling a returner who plays way behind the baseline to come charging forward to hit the serve off of his shoetops. I typically S&V to pick off the popped up return, since I can get close to second volley position due to the slow speed of the serve.
 

GoudX

Professional
An instructor taught me a slice serve at my first lesson. He says the slice was the basis for all serves. He says the topspin serve motion is just the same as his sidearm slice, the ball is just tossed in a different place, as in over his head and more out in front. It kind of made sense and my first goal was to hit the slice serve consistently, which wasnt' too hard. Now working on the topspin. Anyone else move through this kind of progression? Would you agree?
Depends on whether you are hitting around the side, or across the back of the ball. The latter is fairly similar to a topspin serve, you just need to move the ball 'behind your back' (still out into the court but on the 'wrong' side of your head), and then you can hit up the back to get topspin instead of across the back to get sidespin.

For hitting a heavy slice serve you want to hit around the side of the ball rather than across the back, as this promotes a better swing out into the court, which results in a much faster shot. You still want to get the nice 'thump' you get with a decent flat serve, but you want to 'peel' around the outside of the ball.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I think most beginner tennis players learned to serve with their forehand grip, so it's almost a backspin serve when hit hard.
Then, when they want to get it IN, they add a slower swing speed, and some sidespin.
2 years down the line, someone tells them to serve with a continental grip. 3 months later, they can serve slice serves in, and experiment with flat serves, which almost never go in when hit hard, but has a decent percentage, when pushed in at 60 mph.
For me, that was 1974-1975.
 

winstonlim8

Professional
... Then, when they want to get it IN, they add a slower swing speed, and some sidespin.
2 years down the line, someone tells them to serve with a continental grip. 3 months later, they can serve slice serves in, and experiment with flat serves, which almost never go in when hit hard, but has a decent percentage, when pushed in at 60 mph.
For me, that was 1974-1975.
Thanks for this, LeeD. I never thought of it that way. As a kid, I learned to serve with an Eastern backhand grip (because it just felt more comfortable though my coach advocated a Continental instead) so maybe that's why I have problem trying to serve a good slice even after switching to what I call a Continental backhand grip (my knuckle and heel pad are on bevel 2 so it's not quite a proper Eastern any more).

I'm going to take a bucket of balls to the court at 3pm and try serving slower with a more pronounced sideways swing for sidespin and see if I can't start serving slice serves. I guess it should take me around 500-700 balls before I can hit it and get it in consistently at my regular speed.
 

GoudX

Professional
I think most beginner tennis players learned to serve with their forehand grip, so it's almost a backspin serve when hit hard.
Then, when they want to get it IN, they add a slower swing speed, and some sidespin.
2 years down the line, someone tells them to serve with a continental grip. 3 months later, they can serve slice serves in, and experiment with flat serves, which almost never go in when hit hard, but has a decent percentage, when pushed in at 60 mph.
For me, that was 1974-1975.
My experience is that beginners hit groundstrokes continental and serve SW trying to hit the serve the same way they would hit a nail with a hammer.

They always get confused when you tell them they have the grips back to front!
 

ProgressoR

Hall of Fame
When I started I decided to learn a slice serve first and used it all the time, first and seconds, till I got used to it, then I moved onto more top slice and more variation.

It was a great stepping stone for me and I still use the slice of course at at times.

It got me used to using racket head speed, and then the idea that to control it with RHS you need to brush the ball, and this is a concept still fundamental to me now.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Hmm, lots of views, but not necessarily one from my point...
I can hit almost flats, top/slices, twists, pure tops, but haven't hit slices since maybe the late '70's.
But just lately, the old slice, with a toss very close to flat serve tosses, seems to be more EFFECTIVE at getting a super weak mishit return, or a non return, than any of my other 3 serves.
Maybe it goes in at a pretty high percentage, even when swung as fast as I can swing. Maybe it skids a bit, throwing the timing of the returner off, or maybe I can place it sliding into the body, my first choice, so it crams the returner.
Anyways, it's working much too well, so I hardly get to hit a second ball from a defensive position.
I actually LOST a bagel set to one of my 4.0 buds, and I think I never hit a defensive ball after my slice serve went in. I can miss offensive shots, of course.
 

winstonlim8

Professional
I'm so jealous of anyone who can hit so many different spins on serve. I have poor coordination and it's taken me years to acquire just one reliable serve - a flattish topspin one that goes mainly down the center or into the body. That's why I'm trying so hard to get a proper slice serve for variety and better placement options.
 
Hi....
I know I've said that I hit a top/slice serve, but a few hours ago, actually tried hitting a pure sidespin slice serve as a variety and counter to my normal app. 5' high bouncing top slice first and second serves. This one goes only about waist high quite often, is faster than my top/slice, and for today at least, almost competitive with no practice time. Even stranger, I can place it pretty well, easily to all 3 quadrants of either duece or ad, without prior practice.
Obviously, the need for this came on when I found opponent's who were successfully dinking my serves really short and angled, and since I'm hobbled physically, I could barely get there.....and miss the reply from 3' distance from the net.
Do any of you use both top/slice and pure slice serves? I"m confused enough with my toss locations for flat and twist serves, so maybe too many weapons equals no good weapons?
Anyways, it worked today, we'll see on Wednesday.
Yes,I was taught that you can use a flatter slice serve as the first serve, and topspin slice for the second serve.
 

winstonlim8

Professional
The problem with that when I do it is that my flatter slice serve does not only NOT swing wide, it bounces about three feet high and right into most opponents' strike zones. That's why I only use it for a change of direction when I'm up 40-15 and I spot my opponent sidling over to cover his backhand. Even then the best thing that happens is that he has to rush a little bit to return my serve. In the last three months, I've only managed to ace anyone just four times with a slice serve wide in the Deuce Court - probably by accident, too, I am sure.


PS
I always count things like that and record them in my little tennis journal. I could also tell you how many forehands I shanked in the last ten months.

And yes, when it comes to tennis, I am just a wee bit OC.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Good stuff, both you guys.
I tried it again Thursday, and the pure hard slice seems to work best when I hit close to the body. Wide, it bounces into the strikezone pretty much. So, wide, I might just go top or top/slice, or twist, to get the ball over the shoulder's of my opponent.
And yes, best used as a variety stroke to lower the bounce height around 16".
It sure seems much easier to hit pretty hard, so I won't forgo it altogether.
 
if you mean what I think you mean then yeah, as when I hit a slice depending on how much swipe I go for goes in the deep corner really near the net and no depth like drop shot
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
No, my first serve, when sliced, bounces in and hit's the backwall around 20" high.....lower than my flat first serves.
 
Top