The "trick" to low biting slices

zill

Professional
I notice some of the older experienced players can consistently hit low biting backhand slices. What is the trick to doing it consistently??
 

zill

Professional
Timing and racket orientation.


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No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
Can you be more specific? Especially with regards to racquet orientation.
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
Racket orientation is relative to the rhs, so if you hit slow, you need more of a neutral orientation, cause you swing down and a slow shot would not fly into the back of the court with a really open stringbed.

Contact in front and fast enough rhs combined with suitable racket face is required.

The often not seen big factor is, that you drive your mass thru the ball, not just sling the racket underneath the ball. If you look at them consistent low ball slicers, you’ll find, that they lean forward thru impact. And make contact quite near the high point after the ball bounced.


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No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
 

zill

Professional
Racket orientation is relative to the rhs, so if you hit slow, you need more of a neutral orientation, cause you swing down and a slow shot would not fly into the back of the court with a really open stringbed.

Contact in front and fast enough rhs combined with suitable racket face is required.

The often not seen big factor is, that you drive your mass thru the ball, not just sling the racket underneath the ball. If you look at them consistent low ball slicers, you’ll find, that they lean forward thru impact. And make contact quite near the high point after the ball bounced.


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No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
My volleys are a strength. You think I should view the slice as a "big volley". So punch at the ball? So a lopez kind of slice.
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
My volleys are a strength. You think I should view the slice as a "big volley". So punch at the ball? So a lopez kind of slice.
I wouldn’t call it a punch, cause there is a follow thru as well. Could be it is a punch, but I think it is more of a swing. Punch draws an image of a more parallel and straight forward motion.

My non-tennis word would be plouw-thru in an accelerating manner.

Lopez seems to carve the finish letting the racket twist enhancing the spin on this.





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No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
 

zill

Professional
I wouldn’t call it a punch, cause there is a follow thru as well. Could be it is a punch, but I think it is more of a swing. Punch draws an image of a more parallel and straight forward motion.

My non-tennis word would be plouw-thru in an accelerating manner.

Lopez seems to carve the finish letting the racket twist enhancing the spin on this.





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No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
But lopez's slice seem to have the least amount of follow through compared to other players.
 

Pete Player

Hall of Fame
But lopez's slice seem to have the least amount of follow through compared to other players.
To my eye there is at least 90° past the ball. It doesn’t go towards the target, but sideways more.

That kind of a chopping slice doesn’t work very well against people with slow groundies. You need to hit more forward to fly it at the back.


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No more on -sorry, again on pain meds - all contributed matter and anti-matter are subject to disclaimer
 

golden chicken

Professional
I like to catch it at the top of the bounce, around hip to shoulder height so I can hit it with a flat trajectory. I try to drive through the ball with what feels like a long, flat stroke, but I'm sure if it was video'd it'd have a bit of high to low component. I try to visualize an elongated u or a sideways ) and I believe there's a bit of wrist supination and/or external shoulder rotation.

 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Stand on your baseline.
Drop feed yourself a low net clearance slice,
less than 2 feet that LANDS within 4 feet of the opponent's baseline.
THAT is a low biting slice.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Add a varied side spin component and that becomes an effective approach shot or neutralizing groundie.
 

ubercat

Semi-Pro
Biting slice is for speed thru court when u have them on run or if you're stretched wide. if people stand back enough they won't have any problem hitting this hard.

as leed said ideally then learn to get some side on as well that will draw a lot of errors.

I can't remember the name of the vid but the best one I have seen is top tennis training on the slice bh
 

Born_to_slice

Professional
You have to cut decisively across the ball. Around your belly button height. If you're tentative it will float higher. Self feed will teach you some basics but not much in terms of actual play, as we're mostly have need to slice faster balls, not slow ones. Faster the ball, shorter the takeback. Hit on the rise. Of course it has to go pretty close to the net, unless it has a ton of underspin, but then ball sits in place, like a drop shot.
 

ubercat

Semi-Pro
It's not rocket science.
1. Start with good turn and racquet above shoulder.

2. Load back leg and then step fwd and load front leg.

3. Keep racket face very slightly open nearly vertical at contact.

then of course there are all kinds of variations follow through and spacing depending on what you want to do and what the incoming ball is. Of course that needs a lot of practice.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
  1. Lean into the shot
  2. Cut straight down
  3. (for me) hit a bit later and closer to the body
Assuming the rest of your technique is sound
 

SlvrDragon50

Semi-Pro
The thing I was taught is you have to change up your grip as well. Unfortunately I have no idea how to describe it accurately. Closest I could say is it's like an eastern FH grip but the palm is rotated upwards. I am terrible at it though, the grip feels so weird.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Disagree with "cut straight down": IMO, that will lead to a lot of variability that's hard to control. I was taught to make more of a shallow U shape and drive through the ball.
See, I was taught the opposite, and the coach back then justified his instruction saying "we don't use wooden racquets anymore and no-one on tour hits it like that anymore unless it's a reaction slice or too close to the body"

I've actually tried different slices and I've found your approach to result in a lot of variability so I guess we're just used to what we're used to, so OP will have to try a few different ones and pick and choose ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sounds good. What level player are you? Just wondering.
4.5, but I can compete with 5.0 (and lose 6-4) if my rotator cuff allows me to serve like I want to
 
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See, I was taught the opposite, and the coach back then justified his instruction saying "we don't use wooden racquets anymore and no-one on tour hits it like that anymore unless it's a reaction slice or too close to the body"
Mattek-Sands demonstrates your approach [FF to 0:51 and 1:06]:

 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Mattek-Sands demonstrates your approach [FF to 0:51 and 1:06]:

I basically just copied what Fed and Dimitrov do for the most part. Works pretty well for me unless I try to slice too early and frame the ball. Keeps the ball nice and low. If the ball is a bit far out and I'm on the defence, I can use my wrist for a bit more punch. If the ball is too close to my body then I can carve the ball while pushing the ball away. Different slice strokes for different situations for the most part.

That said, the "other" type of slice that Blair Henley was teaching (which I maintain is the worst video on this topic ever made) makes no sense since by her logic I'd be making contact with the ball with the hitting face pointing at the sun. Since the ball is moving forward, how on earth am I going to reliably hit the middle of the sweet spot when the racquet face is practically parallel to the direction in which the ball is moving?

It'd be like trying to hit topspin by having the racquet in the PTD position and then never opening up the racquet face so it points at the ground from start to finish.
 

golden chicken

Professional
That said, the "other" type of slice that Blair Henley was teaching (which I maintain is the worst video on this topic ever made) makes no sense since by her logic I'd be making contact with the ball with the hitting face pointing at the sun. Since the ball is moving forward, how on earth am I going to reliably hit the middle of the sweet spot when the racquet face is practically parallel to the direction in which the ball is moving?

It'd be like trying to hit topspin by having the racquet in the PTD position and then never opening up the racquet face so it points at the ground from start to finish.
It's like hitting a backhand smash, or like the same principles as hitting a serve, only backwards in a way. You initially pull the handle towards the contact point but as you swing, you rotate the arm/wrist to bring the racket face into contact at the desired angle.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
It's like hitting a backhand smash, or like the same principles as hitting a serve, only backwards in a way. You initially pull the handle towards the contact point but as you swing, you rotate the arm/wrist to bring the racket face into contact at the desired angle.
She never actually says that in the instructional video IIRC

Maybe it's just me, but I can't time it particularly well either, and the idea that I have to rotate the racquet to contact, and then rotate the opposite direction after contact doesn't "feel" right to me. With the backhand smash and the serve, at no point does the racquet rotate one way then rotate back the way it came. Imagine if after pronating your arm to contact on the serve, you supinate instead of continuing the pronation.
 

golden chicken

Professional
I never realized there was an instructional video that went with the slo-mo that I linked to above.

I think my low skidding slices are more a function of exit velocity than rpm, whereas the ones that bounce more vertically or have some side spin are more a function of rpm. When I chop at the ball, I'm getting more rpm than exit velocity. When I supinate the racket head into contact and swing through the contact more, I get more exit velocity.
 

HuusHould

Professional
I find two things are crucial to penetration on the slice bh:
1. Hitting straight through the ball, keeping your strings perpendicular to your target and racquet travelling toward your target as far as you can, without breaking the V at the back of your wrist. (Point 2)
2. Keep your wrist fully cocked. (Racquet head as high above your wrist as possible). This is the opposite of what you'd do with your wrist if you were hitting a wristy inside out bh drop shot. So you're trying to hit with pure backspin (provided by the tilt of the racquet) with as little sidespin as possible. The V mentioned in this point is actually the most important thing. You need to practice maintaining a cocked wrist in varying situations.
 

golden chicken

Professional
How does adding sidespin make a slice lower and more biting? I can hit a floaty sidespin slice just as easily as a floaty non-sidespin slice, so clearly for me sidespin is not the dominant variable.
I realized as I was writing my last comment in this thread that there may be an interpretative difference when we see the word "Biting". I took it to mean low and skidding, but I could also see how some people would take it to mean one that has a bounce greatly affected by the spin applied. I believe both work up to about 4.5, and then most players aren't bothered by wacky spin/bounces any more if the ball doesn't also rush them a bit.
 

Kevo

Legend
Practice. The direction is just racquet face angle like anything else. A lot of people don't flatten out the face of racquet at contact so they hit low on the ball and the ball goes up. It's pretty simple really. Just square up the face of the racquet more and the trajectory will be flatter.
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
I find two things are crucial to penetration on the slice bh:
1. Hitting straight through the ball, keeping your strings perpendicular to your target and racquet travelling toward your target as far as you can, without breaking the V at the back of your wrist. (Point 2)
2. Keep your wrist fully cocked. (Racquet head as high above your wrist as possible). This is the opposite of what you'd do with your wrist if you were hitting a wristy inside out bh drop shot. So you're trying to hit with pure backspin (provided by the tilt of the racquet) with as little sidespin as possible. The V mentioned in this point is actually the most important thing. You need to practice maintaining a cocked wrist in varying situations.
Nope, sidespin keeps the ball low.
 

ubercat

Semi-Pro
I don't see why it would keep the ball low. but it does make it difficult to return because you have to get your racquet low and around it and if you misread it you can end up overstepping and jamming yourself.
 

HuusHould

Professional
Nope, sidespin keeps the ball low.
Not in my experience, either way the most penetrating slices go straight, not swinging with sidespin. I know its part court geometry, but the number of times players (including pros) try to fade the slice bh approach dtl and get stung with the fh pass is amazing. Sidespin is halfway to topspin, if topspin makes the ball kick up, it makes sense that the opposite does the opposite.
 

HuusHould

Professional
I don't see why it would keep the ball low. but it does make it difficult to return because you have to get your racquet low and around it and if you misread it you can end up overstepping and jamming yourself.
Thats right it can chase you (cramp you up) when you run around your bh or make you lunge a bit when it goes the other way wide to your fh. It means your hitting with more of a change of direction to hit the ball in as well. But I think the higher the level the less of an issue this is.
 

Fairhit

Semi-Pro
Sidespin keeps the ball low, that's a fact but is not because of the sidespin, is because of the path of the racquet, if you really impart sidespin on the ball you have to impact it on the back, the ball will go low, if you impact under the ball it will go with backspin, if you hit it right it will go low.
 

HuusHould

Professional
leg spinner then flipper. Which one bounces the lowest? Pretty sure the physics is the same with a tennis ball.

 
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HuusHould

Professional
Sidespin keeps the ball low, that's a fact but is not because of the sidespin, is because of the path of the racquet, if you really impart sidespin on the ball you have to impact it on the back, the ball will go low, if you impact under the ball it will go with backspin, if you hit it right it will go low.
Yes, a slice serve will bounce lower than a similar trajectory topspin or flat serve which is testimony to this. But I maintain that pure backspin stays lowest.
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
The question isn't whether sidespin keeps the ball low; the question is why does sidespin keep the ball lower than no sidespin?
Because backspin doesn't cause the bounce to change. Sidespin makes the ball go sideways, not bounce so high. The force sending it sideways is subtracted from the bounce.

 
Because backspin doesn't cause the bounce to change. Sidespin makes the ball go sideways, not bounce so high. The force sending it sideways is subtracted from the bounce.
From a physics standpoint, that doesn't make sense.

From a practical standpoint, I haven't experimented enough to confirm or deny it.
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
From a physics standpoint, that doesn't make sense.

From a practical standpoint, I haven't experimented enough to confirm or deny it.
It's obvious if you watch the videos. Energy that would have directed the ball forward and up is now shifted to the side. Take a basketball or tennis ball outside and spin it sideways and send it away from you.
 
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