The backhand slice is another tool in the Tennis players arsenal to improve your game. Use it right and it could add a whole new dimension to your playing style. Professional and recreational players employ the slice backhand to set up an approach shot, to slow down the ball while recovering from a defensive position, or to handle a low bounce. The motion of “slicing” the strings underneath the ball creates backspin and while this shot helps pros reset the point, a savvy weekend warrior may even use the technique to hit outright winners against unwitting opponents.
Here’s what the experts think, Miles Maclagan currently coaches British No. 1 player Laura Robson and formerly guided World No. 2 Andy Murray to beat some of the best players. Maclagan says, one of the shots which Murray uses to gain an advantage, the slice backhand, should also be used by recreational players to unsettle an opponent. Here are his tips for hitting a killer slice backhand.
What To Do
1. Shoulder Turn
Whether you use an open or a closed stance, the shoulder turn is necessary for a smooth slice. Rotate your upper body so that your chest is facing the sideline and raise your racquet around shoulder height. Use your non-dominant hand on the throat of the racquet to aid the shoulder turn and to get your racquet into the right position until you begin the shot.
2. Knee Bend
Bending your knees is crucial for any Tennis shot, especially for dealing with a low-bouncing ball. A good knee bend allows you to hit through the ball and penetrate the shot as the racquet slides underneath the ball. Roger Federer bends his knees very well,you could do worse than trying to copy him!
3. Long swing
A slice shot affords you the time to take a longer swing, some club players don't execute the stroke properly and instead tend to muscle the slice with a short, volley-like swing. A slice is a smooth shot for which you need to make sure you get the racquet nicely behind you to take a longer swing at it, though as with all shots, you'll need to accelerate through the ball, but swing high to low and away from your body while transferring your weight forward.
4. Think about what you’re trying to achieve
From a tactical point of view, the key is to realise what you’re trying to do with the slice backhand and not try to do too much with it. Usually, the best players don't use the slice as a winning shot, but instead seek to put the ball in an awkward position for their opponents.
What Not To Do
1. Don’t chop down on the ball
Some club players often mistakenly believe that they can produce slice by chopping down on the ball rather than hitting through the ball with a longer swing. The ball is traveling in a roughly horizontal line, and if the racquet is moving vertically, it’s harder to meet the ball in exactly the right spot. This means that you’ll end up getting too much spin, too much cut and the ball doesn’t penetrate through the court. Players like Roger Federer and Tim Henman actually hit the slice very hard, and they were able to do that because they weren’t chopping down on the ball.
2. Don’t be too clever
Just keep it simple, the slice is most effective when the player isn't attempting to be fancy. Be aware of the situation: if you’re in a defensive position, just look to return the ball deep and low, or even short and low, to neutralize your opponent on the next shot. If you’re unsure how the shot should look you can find many slow motion videos of the pros using the backhand slice. Happy slicing!