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Tennis skills: ALL ABOUT THE BACKHAND SLICE

The backhand slice has several uses. It can be used as:

all-about-the-backhand-slice

• A defensive shot, when you receive a very fast ball to your backhand side. If your opponent is at the back of the court, you should keep the ball long so that you've got time to get back to the centre of the court. If your opponent is at the net, a short ball will be more effective as it'll force them to do a volley below the net.

• A neutralising shot, to change the ball's pace and height. This can pull your opponent out of their comfort zone.

• An offensive or point construction shot, so you can more easily move into place to volley. Your opponent will have to lift the ball.

The backhand slice is mainly done with your arm, with almost no torso rotation. You can play this shot with your arm only; your legs and torso are in line and don't rotate. This shot gives the ball a flat trajectory close to the net, with a low or even very low bounce.

THE BACKHAND SLICE GRIP:

To do a backhand slice, you should ideally use a continental grip.

POSITIONING FOR DOING A GOOD BACKHAND SLICE:

In terms of positioning, you generally want a neutral stance, given that the racket's trajectory is more or less parallel to the line of your feet, and your bodyweight transfers to your front foot.

Don't rotate your torso when hitting the ball.

THE RIGHT SWING FOR THE BACKHAND SLICE:

In terms of your upper body, bend your arm, with your elbow pointing forwards to bring the racket's head above your shoulder. Then straighten your arm until your forearm is in line with the rest of your arm.

To send a long, relatively fast ball, hit it with a more forward-to-backward swing, passing underneath the ball and hitting it when it's flying more or less horizontally.

For a shorter ball with much more spin, hit it with a more upward-to-downward motion.

 

In conclusion: the backhand slice is an easy shot if you're not looking for too much speed. As soon as you want a faster ball, you need a shot with a much flatter trajectory, with the risk of it being too low and getting caught in the net. To improve this type of backhand stroke, practise it regularly until it becomes almost automatic.

 

Florent Hilgenga

Moulins Les Metz store - Official Artengo stringer at the Moselle Open ATP 250 - Artengo Ambassador.

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