The one-handed slice backhand is an essential part of a good player’s arsenal. The slice will help you change the pace of rallies, approach the net and disrupt the rhythm of opponents who are used to reacting to topspin. Katrina Adams, a former WTA pro and a commentator for Tennis Channel, stresses two key elements of the stroke: The racquet head must start out higher than the incoming ball, and the grip must be Continental with a firm wrist. “Early preparation is key,” Adams says. Club players often complain that their slice sits up rather than penetrating the court. Adams says a strong followthrough, with the racquet extending toward the target, will solve this problem. This photo shows how to finish the stroke after the ball has left the racquet.
• Turn your shoulders as you bring back your racquet. Even though a slice isn’t a shot associated with power, you have to turn fully before you swing. If your shoulders are not turned or open up too soon, you’ll cut across the ball rather than carve through it and lose power and depth.
• Use the butt cap of your racquet handle as a guide when you prepare to hit a slice. If the butt cap is directly in line with the ball, that means your racquet is up and you’re going to swing through the shot.
Master Other Strokes:
Originally published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of TENNIS.