Forehand slice applicable at all levels

Nowadays tennis is all about big serves, and powerful forehands. When we watch ATP Tour most of the rallies are finished with the good delivery or by hitting a clear winner/forcing shot from the forehand side. Females’ bodies are not as strong as males are but they still have decent speed of the first serve as also they are able to dominate the point right from the forehand return. Tennis today is definitely a different sport than tennis was 15 years ago because evolution is something that had to happen but we have to remember that even players are using mostly powerful shots they shouldn’t neglect the development of skills that were of great use in the past. Forehand slice is one of these strokes and that is why I would like to show you the benefits that you can get by using this skill.


            I don’t buy the notion of many tennis experts that modern tennis is an offensive game, and that you can’t achieve top level if use too many defensive shots. In my opinion it is matter of tactical abilities to use given skills, and proper amount of practice hours to make one area more effective than the other. Of course most of the tournaments are played on fast surfaces as also racquet’s technology favors fast swings but these factors don’t limit opportunities that backspin forehand shot creates for modern players. If you are confident with this shot, and you know how to use it you can definitely get to the top without hitting thousands of winners per game.


            Agnieszka Radwanska on WTA Tour or Rafa Nadal on ATP Tour are examples of top players who know how to use forehand slice to put pressure on the opponent. Nadal picks this option mostly when he is in trouble but Radwanska is definitely more versatile because she uses this skill in defensive, neutral, and offensive situations. She knows that her body doesn’t allow her to keep up the pace with players like Williams or Kvitova so she is smart enough to use her strengths to put more pressure on the opponent’s weakness. It doesn’t matter if other players use it or not if it works for you, you shouldn’t take this weapon away. In tennis you don’t get additional points for immaculate style or for a particular stroke so make sure that you take the most of your game.


            Many players don’t use backspin shots because their peers perceive these strokes as „weaker” than powerful groundstrokes. Of course it is nicer for audience to see spectacular forehand inside out winner than a mistake of the opponent after a regular forehand slice but we have to make sure that we understand who we play for. We should respect the audience but it is our game, and we have to do everything we can to finish the battle as a winner. Forehand slice gives us a lot of opportunities to beat rivals that we can’t beat with regular topspin shots but firstly we have to be conscious of these advantages, and secondly we have to support this knowledge with a lot of practice. Only this combination will make us a really difficult tennis player to overcome.


            Here are the areas that will make you think over the usefulness of forehand slice:


  1. Change of pace


99% of tennis players feel comfortable when they can play tennis points with the same pace. It simply means that the opponent provides balls with similar speed, spin, and depth. If this scenario happens players can get the rhythm of own strokes, and that is why they are able to hit more forcing shots, and less unforced errors. Unfortunately too many juniors are not aware of the fact that just by simply changing spin of own shots they can make the opponent’s game completely fall apart. Forehand slice is a great solution to use especially against players who hit pretty flat because they will be exposed to the conditions that are not falling into their favorite category. Without proper technical, tactical, physical, and mental adaptations there is a big chance that rival is going to make significantly more mistakes in a short time. Change the pace, and you will change the game!


  1. Lower bounce


Modern tennis is based mostly on powerful groundstrokes when balls bounce relatively high so it is not surprising that many tennis players don’t spend too much time during practice sessions on learning how to answer low balls. It is normal that if given conditions don’t happen during the match there is no need to practice answers for these rare moments. Knowing that we can use this gap in players’ skills to get easy advantage at any stage of a battle. Simply hitting more defensive forehand slices or approaching the net after forehand backspin shots are possibilities to implement these skills, and put more stress on the other side of the net. If something is not trained it will bring more mistakes so we have to check if the rival was working on this area before the competition.


  1. One skill – many shots


One of the reasons why tennis nowadays is less versatile than it was few years ago is the fact that players don’t feel comfortable with the continental (or close to continental) grip. From the early years tennis players learn how to hit topspin shots use semi-western or western grips so it is not surprising that they are not able to control shots like volleys, slices, or drop shots. These little details significantly limits their weapons, and forces them to use only one strategy no matter if it works for them on a given day or not. On the other hand, guys like Radwanska or Federer who feel great with continental grip are more dangerous because they can always change their plan A, and still win the match by using different tactical possibilities. If you want to become your best YOU you have to make sure that you implement forehand slice into your game. If you can’t deal with others’ opinions about your shot selection better ask yourself „What is more important for me? Others’ opinions or my own development?”


It looks like forehand slice is getting buried by modern players but hopefully there are few heroes who keep this valuable skill alive. Take example from these guys, and add something new to your game to make even better results. Remember – forehand slice won’t make you a worse performer because it can only make you better!