Backhand Slice Strategies: Outsmart Your Tennis Opponent

If you’re a tennis player looking to add more variety to your game, then the backhand slice is a shot you should consider mastering. The backhand slice is a strategic shot that creates underspin, causing the ball to slow down and potentially bounce low or change direction upon landing. This shot is particularly useful in counteracting aggressive topspin shots, disrupting an opponent’s rhythm, approaching the net more safely, and adding tactical variation to your game.

To hit a backhand slice in tennis, you need to use a specific technique. The backhand slice technique requires a certain mental discipline as you need to stay sideways through the shot longer than usual. This technique can be especially difficult to acquire for those players who otherwise play a two-handed backhand stroke where they, of course, have to rotate their body as they execute the stroke. To hit a backhand slice, you need to use the continental grip, which is the same grip you use to serve. You also need to use the right footwork to execute the shot properly.

Overall, the backhand slice is an essential shot to have in your tennis arsenal. It can help you counteract your opponent’s aggressive shots, approach the net more safely, and add tactical variation to your game. If you’re looking to improve your tennis game, consider mastering the backhand slice shot.

Fundamentals of the Backhand Slice

The backhand slice is a versatile shot that can be used to create a variety of angles and trajectories. It is an essential weapon for any player looking to add more variety to their game. In this section, we will discuss the key fundamentals of the backhand slice, including grip, stance, and swing path.


The grip is a crucial element in executing a successful backhand slice. The Eastern or Continental grip is preferred for a natural underspin motion. The grip should be firm but not too tight, allowing you to maintain control of the racquet without hindering your swing.


The stance is another important factor in executing a successful backhand slice. The open stance promotes a longer, more flowing swing, while the semi-open or closed stance is possible, depending on the desired shot trajectory. Your front foot should be pointing towards the net, and your back foot should be slightly behind your front foot.

Swing Path

The swing path is the final key element in executing a successful backhand slice. The racket starts high and moves across the body in a downward and outward motion. You should emphasize pronation of the forearm during contact, which will help create the necessary underspin. Finally, follow through towards your non-dominant shoulder to ensure a smooth and controlled finish.

Common Slice Variations

When it comes to the slice tennis shot, there are two common variations that every player should know: the heavy slice and the flatter slice. Both of these variations have their own unique characteristics that make them useful in different situations.

Heavy Slice

The heavy slice is a slower shot that has more pronounced cutting motion beneath the ball. This makes it ideal for dramatically changing the pace of a rally. To execute a heavy slice, you need to slow down your racket head speed and make a more pronounced cutting motion under the ball. This will create more backspin and cause the ball to bounce higher, making it difficult for your opponent to return.

The heavy slice is especially useful when you want to disrupt your opponent’s rhythm and force them to hit a defensive shot. It can also be used to buy time and set up an offensive shot.

Flatter Slice

The flatter slice is a faster shot that brushes the back of the ball more horizontally. This causes the ball to skid and stay low, making it useful for approach shots. To execute a flatter slice, you need to increase your racket head speed and brush the back of the ball more horizontally. This will create less backspin and cause the ball to stay lower, making it difficult for your opponent to hit an offensive shot.

The flatter slice is especially useful when you want to hit a low, penetrating shot that stays low and makes it difficult for your opponent to hit an offensive shot. It can also be used as a surprise shot to catch your opponent off guard.

Advanced Backhand Slice Techniques

If you’ve mastered the basics of the slice backhand, it’s time to take your game to the next level with these advanced techniques. By incorporating sidespin, angle slices, and drop shots into your repertoire, you’ll be able to keep your opponents guessing and gain the upper hand on the court.

Sidespin Slice

To add a little extra flair to your slice backhand, try incorporating sidespin. By adding a slight side-to-side motion to your shot, you can create a curving trajectory that will make your opponent run. This can be especially effective when hitting cross-court, as the ball will curve away from your opponent and force them to cover more ground.

To execute a sidespin slice, focus on brushing the ball slightly to the side as you make contact. This will create the necessary spin to curve the ball. Keep in mind that you don’t need to exaggerate the motion too much – a little bit of sidespin goes a long way.

Angle Slices

One of the great things about the slice backhand is its versatility. With a little practice, you can hit the ball with precision from any court position. To take advantage of this, try incorporating angle slices into your game.

An angle slice is simply a slice backhand hit at an acute angle, either cross-court or down the line. By hitting the ball at an angle, you can force your opponent off-balance and create openings for yourself. This can be especially effective when you’re on the run or under pressure.

To hit an angle slice, focus on your footwork and positioning. Make sure you’re set up properly for the shot and aim for a specific target on the court. With practice, you’ll be able to hit angle slices with precision and consistency.

Drop Slice

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. That’s where the drop slice comes in. By shortening your swing and slowing your racket head speed even more, you can surprise your opponent with a shot that dies just over the net.

To hit a drop slice, focus on keeping your swing short and compact. You want to generate just enough spin to get the ball over the net, but not so much that it bounces high. Aim for a spot just over the net and watch as your opponent struggles to reach the ball.

By incorporating these advanced techniques into your game, you’ll be able to take your slice backhand to the next level. With a little practice, you’ll be able to hit sidespin slices, angle slices, and drop shots with confidence and precision, leaving your opponents scrambling to keep up.

Drills to Improve Your Backhand Slice

Improving your backhand slice is a great way to add more variety to your game and keep your opponents guessing. Here are some drills that can help you improve your backhand slice technique:

Shadow Swings

Shadow swings are a great way to practice your backhand slice technique without hitting a ball. Focus on the correct racquet head and wrist action, as well as a little bit of shoulder turn. This drill is a good way to develop muscle memory and improve your slice technique.

Wall Practice

Wall practice is another great way to develop feel and consistency with your backhand slice. Hit against a wall and focus on your contact point, slice technique, and upper body rotation. This drill is also a good way to work on your footwork and racquet head speed.

Mini Tennis

Playing short-court games with a focus on utilizing various slices is a good way to improve your backhand slice. This drill will help you develop control and accuracy with your slice, as well as your footwork and racquet head speed. Work with a professional tennis coach or take private lessons to get the most out of this drill.

Cross-court Slice Rally

The cross-court slice rally is a great way to build control and accuracy with your backhand slice. Work with a partner and focus on hitting cross-court slices with good spin and depth. This drill is also a good way to work on your footwork and racquet head speed.

Some common mistakes to avoid when practicing your backhand slice include poor slices with no spin, hitting the ball too high, and not using proper shoulder turn. Look to professional players like Andy Murray for inspiration and guidance on how to improve your backhand slice.

Strategic Use of the Backhand Slice

If you want to improve your backhand slice, it’s important to understand how to use it strategically on the court. Here are some tips on how to use your backhand slice to your advantage against different types of opponents.

Against Aggressive Baseliners

Many players rely on their powerful groundstrokes to dominate their opponents. However, you can disrupt their rhythm by using well-timed backhand slices and changes of pace. The slice shot can force your opponent to move forward and hit the ball off-balance, giving you an opportunity to take control of the point.

Against Net Rushers

When facing a net rusher, use low slices to force difficult volleys. Passing shots with sidespin slice can also keep the ball away from the net player. This can force the net rusher to retreat and give you more time to set up your shots.

Vary Your Shots

Don’t become predictable with your backhand slice. Mix it up with topspin and flat backhands for maximum effect. This can keep your opponent guessing and make it harder for them to anticipate your shots.

Remember to keep your body rotation in check when hitting the backhand slice. Many players make the common mistake of rotating their body too much, which can result in a weak shot. Instead, focus on keeping your back foot planted and using your arm to generate power.

In addition to the backhand slice, mastering the approach shot can also be useful in defensive situations. Check out related posts on how to improve your approach shot for more information.

By using these strategies, you can take your backhand slice to the next level and become a more versatile player on the court.


Tennis is a game of adjustments. The backhand slice represents one of your most effective weapons against those who thrive on consistency and rhythm. By mastering this shot, you’re not only expanding your physical skillset, but also developing the tactical awareness to force others to play outside their comfort zone.


Q: What is the best grip for hitting a backhand slice?

A: The continental grip is the most common and versatile choice for a backhand slice. It allows you to create natural underspin and provides good control over the shot. Some players may find success with an eastern backhand grip, but it generally offers less spin potential.

Q: How can I add more power to my backhand slice?

A: While the slice isn’t primarily a power shot, you can increase its speed and penetration with a few adjustments:

  • Faster racket head speed: Use a more aggressive swing trajectory while still maintaining the slicing motion.
  • Use your legs: Engage your legs and core to generate power from the ground up.
  • Slight forward lean: Lean into the shot to add body weight behind your swing.

Q: Should I use a closed or open stance for the backhand slice?

A: Both open and closed stances can be effective for the backhand slice. An open stance facilitates a longer swing path and more natural slice motion, while a closed stance can help with shorter, more compact slices. Experiment to find what feels comfortable and produces the desired results.

Q: How can I improve my backhand slice consistency?

A: The key to a consistent backhand slice is practice and repetition. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Focus on the swing path: Visualize the downward and outward motion of the slice.
  • Wall practice: Hitting against a wall is a great way to develop feel and groove the correct technique.
  • Start with short slices: Work on accuracy and control before focusing on depth.

Q: When is the best time to use a backhand slice in a match?

A: The backhand slice is a versatile shot with many strategic applications:

  • Against hard-hitting baseliners to disrupt their rhythm and force errors.
  • To approach the net using a low slice to make your opponent hit a difficult volley.
  • Defensively when you’re out of position or retrieving a high ball.

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