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The Slice Serve
The slice servearguably one of the most crucial parts of tennis, with a perfect technique on this type of serve being a sure-fire way for a player to win points.
One of the main characteristics of this serve that makes it so effective is the ability to push the opponent out of the court, which puts the serving player in total control of the point.
Out of the three types of serves in tennis, the flat serve, the kick serve, and the slice serve, the latter is the most powerful. It is, therefore, a pretty good idea to try and learn how to execute a slice serve and do it well.
This article will provide all of the necessary information that a player will need in order to understand better how to execute a slice serve successfully.
This article will walk through every necessary piece of advice to better equip you with the best knowledge to really up your game from position to grip technique to special tips.
Acting as the holy grail of this type of serve, there won’t be a stone left unturned by the time you reach the end of this article. We’ve got you covered.
What is a slice serve?
The slice serve is a variation of serve that allows tennis players to add sidespin to a first serve or second serve.
Slice serves differ from kick serves in that they are brushing along the side of the ball, changing its spin and also its bounce. Conversely, a kick serve is hit in an upwards motion in order to generate topspin.
Check out the following video to find out what a slice serve is and an easy step-by-step walk-through on how to hit one:
Advantages of using a slice serve
A slice serve can be very beneficial to the serving player, as the technique allows the player to draw their opponent out wide to the ad or deuce side, which leaves the rest of the tennis court wide open and empty.
As a result, the serving player can follow up with a well-placed shot directly and strategically aimed at this open space, which is very difficult for the opponent to return. This makes it fairly straightforward to win a point.
The motion used for a slice serve generates sidespin, which results in the ball bouncing much further away when hit into the outer corner of the service box or even right into the opponent’s body if hitting down the centerline.
The tennis slice serve usually keeps the ball low due to the sidespin created, which is advantageous, as it causes the opponent to move out of position.
Another benefit of using the slice serve is that it can feel quite natural to hit if using a continental grip.
This is because the contact point and the angle of the racket are set up well to execute this technique when the hands and wrist are placed in a continental manner.
As this is one of the most used grips in tennis, this gears the vast majority of players up well to hit a good slice serve.
Disadvantages of using a slice serve
Although slice serves is often beneficial in terms of their placement, speed is often forfeited.
Therefore, slice serves tends to be slower and relatively less powerful than flat serves, giving the opposing player extra time to manage their return strategically.
A second con of using a slice serve is the tendency to overhit the ball. This happens most of the time due to the need to create a hefty amount of sidespin, leading the player into hitting the ball ineffectively.
This leads to inconsistency, which is a major killer to a player’s strategic development.
Another disadvantage of the slice serve is what is known as telegraphing. Some players to try to achieve an effective side spin end up ‘over tossing the ball.
The opponent might anticipate from the toss that the player is planning on slice serving. With this clue, the opponent could position better to return the ball, potentially winning the point.
How to hit a slice serve
Hitting a slice serve is one thing, but hitting a slice serve well is a whole other ball game. To perfect this technique, it’s necessary to categorize the process into separate stages and practice each one with great concentrationto really understand the knack.
The steps are broken down into the position, grip, toss, hit, and finally, the follow-through. Each step will be explained below.
For a player to gear themselves up to hit a stellar slice serve, it’s recommended to assume a position that is slightly more to the centerline’s right to have a better angle.
It’s even possible to stand halfway between the middle and the side-line if so desired.
Assuming a proper stance is an essential ingredient for an effective slice serve.
In order to be able to execute it well, a player can make good use of the net posts as a point of reference. When the body faces the right-hand net post, this is when a proper stance is achieved. Left-handed players should face their body towards the left side post.
Once the player is ready and in the right position, they should coil their upper body so that the shoulders are directly facing towards the net as a result.
A continental grip is needed to execute this serve, as it will allow the player to hit a slice movement much more naturally.
To hold a continental grip, players must place their hand so that the index finger’s knuckle rests on bevel number 2. It might help some players, so visualize holding the racket as if it were an axe.
For this special serve, the ball must be tossed in front of the player, slightly to the right-hand side of their body.
It is suggested that players try experimenting and playing around a little to determine where the right place to toss would be without losing any balance upon serving.
Keeping a good equilibrium between balance and placement is essential to master to hit a good slice serve.
When hitting the ball, it is useful to think of the numbers nine and three on a clock, because the hit must be swung from left to right, from the nine o’clock to 3 o’clock position on a clock face.
As with any serve, the player must try and exert power, stability, and good aim when hitting this serve to maximize the chances of hitting it successfully.
When contacting the ball, the racket should hit the outer edge of the ball in order to generate sufficient sidespin, which will give the slice you’re after.
In addition, it’s crucial to hit up a bit to give the ball some topspin so that it drops back down into the court.
The Follow Through
There is no use just finishing the serve once having come into contact with the ball. The follow-through is thus an essential component of the slice serve.
The serving player should continue their movement with a forward momentum, with the edge of the racket also moving in a forward direction. It is essential not to pronate too much, as this can render the serve ineffective.
Players should work on this by practicing hitting many serves to refine this sensation of forward momentum.
Additionally, it’s necessary to rotate the shoulders, with the body facing towards the target right at the end. Facing straight ahead will make it much more challenging to steer the ball left.
For a complete step-by-step tutorial on how to hit the perfect slice serve, visit the following link
Slice Serve Tips
When it comes to fully mastering a tennis shot, there are always specific tidbits of advice that can be offered to help a player make the most out of their practice and, ultimately, their execution. Several different pieces of advice will be explained below.
Do Not Overhit The Ball
It can be fairly easy to overhit the ball when learning how to hit a slice serve, because there is the necessity to create sidespin.
However, to generate such a swing, it isn’t necessary to swing too hard because it is a proper technique that will help a player achieve this.
Hence, practice is key here. Interestingly enough, it can be a strategic tactic for a player to hit a slice serve at 75% of their maximum swing speed because the change in pace, combined with the sidespin, throws off the opponent.
Play Out Wide
Opening out the tennis court is very easily done when hitting a slice serve, which is why it’s such a powerful and sophisticated hit for a player to master.
For right-handed players, hitting a slice serve out wide in the deuce court will lure the opponent off-court, leaving the rest of the court wide open for a follow-up shot that allows the serving player to be in a position to advance forward and engage in attacking play.
Consider The Surface of the Court
A slice serve is a brilliant weapon for a tennis player to have, no matter the court surface.
However, players can use it to their advantage on particular court surfaces, for example, grass courts, upon which the ball has a natural tendency to bounce less.
This is ideal for a slice serve, as the ball doesn’t bounce high, resulting in a very low-bouncing serve that is difficult to return.
Drills to practice the slice serve
It’sno secret that practice makes perfect. With this in mind, we will examine a few different drills and exercises that can be practiced repeatedly to gradually build up the knowledge, technique, and competence required to hit a slice serve with great flair and skill.
Drills are very commonly used in tennis practice because they’re often exercises that require a lot of repetition of certain movements, which will ultimately train both the brand and body to move in certain ways for specific types of shots and styles of play.
The Break Down
One of the best ways to practice any serve, not just the slice serve, is to break it down into a sequence of steps, as discussed above.
Players should begin this process by getting a real feel for hitting the ball on the outside edge. This can be done by throwing the ball up and catching it with the hand in a full serving motion.
When catching the ball, it is essential to ensure this is happening on the outside edge of the ball, where the racket would be coming into contact with the ball.
This will help players understand the sensation of coming around the ball, which will be very useful when introducing a racket into this exercise.
Once catching the ball on the outside becomes familiar and more comfortable, the player can then integrate the racket into the exercise, repeating the same movement and using the racket.
To keep things relatively easy and simple, it’s best to hold the grip halfway up the racket handle in order to make the racket shorter, thus shortening the overall swing. The focus should be nothing but hitting the ball on the outer edges of the racket head.
At this point, it isn’t important to make sure the ball lands in a certain place. It’s more about getting used to the sensation of the movement in general, building up a sort of muscle memory.
The player should gradually move their hand further down the handle, building up the swing and ball toss to better the technique while maintaining the contact point on the ball’s outside edge.
Once this feeling becomes more comfortable for the player, the net can then be introduced to the exercise. The best thing to do is to begin right on top of the net, ensuring that the spin is being achieved.
As this becomes easier, the player can keep moving back towards the baseline.
The Magic Chair
A particularly challenging aspect of the slice serve is making sure the ball goes up and down while still having the desired effect.
To help the player achieve that sensation of making the ball travel up and down, they can try introducing a chair, staying sat down while attempting the serve.
Once again, it’s probably a good idea to begin with the shortened grip and swing and putting the chair in very close proximity to the net.
By staying seated in the chair, the player is then forced to make sure the ball travels upwards and clears over the net, offering a much better flight path.
As the player becomes more comfortable with this drill, they can move further down the grip, elongate the swing and move back towards the baseline.
When a player starts out with perfecting their slice serve, it’s valuable to experiment with widening the angle to make hitting the slice serve out wide feel much easier to do.
The further the player is from the centerline, the more surface area of the court they have to play around with, making it more achievable to hit the target and use a natural angle.
However, standing out wide does leave a rather large gap for the opponent to play into, so this isn’t desirable in a singles match but can be good for practice.
As the player gets better at hitting a good slice serve, they can advance towards the optimum serving position, approximately 2-3 feet inside the centerline.
For more ideas on different drills that can be practiced to master the slice serve, check out the following video: which walks through a different set of drills than the ones mentioned above
In conclusion, the slice serve is an extremely advantageous tennis weapon for a player to have in their arsenal.
A sophisticated hit, the slice serve is an interesting tennis move that can throw off an opponent and make winning extra points that bit easier.
Just with anything, however, perfecting a slice serve is no easy task. It takes time, perseverance, and a great deal of practice to get right.
Lots of different drills can be practicedto build up the skills and movements needed to execute a good slice serve.
Reliant on good technique and a series of specific steps to follow to prepare for this type of hit, the slice serve will be sure to impress an opponent and spectators. Better get practicing!
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Review by Marc Peppin – Won 40+ International Titles – Canadian #1