What Is a Slice in Tennis? [Everything to Know]

Tennis is a dynamic sport with an arsenal of shots that players can utilize during the course of a match.

One of these unique and strategic shots is the ‘slice.’

But what exactly is a slice in tennis?

How does one perform this shot?

And when is it appropriate to use it?

Let’s look into all these aspects and more.

Slice in Tennis Definition

A slice in tennis is a type of shot where the player strikes the ball with a racket that is angled slightly downward and moving high to low, which imparts backspin on the ball.

The key attribute of this shot is that it causes the tennis ball to stay low and skid on the court surface, making it challenging for the opponent to return.

The slice can be used for various purposes in a match, such as slowing down the pace of a rally or as a defensive shot.

Tennis Slice Technique

The technique of performing a slice involves some distinct steps.

Firstly, the grip.

The tennis slice grip most commonly used is the Continental or the Eastern backhand grip.

When executing a slice, the racket starts high, then moves down and through the ball at an angle, creating the backspin.

The slice can be performed on both the forehand and backhand sides.

Tennis Slice Forehand

For a forehand slice, players typically use it as a defensive shot or to change the pace of the rally.

The preparation for a forehand slice involves turning the shoulders sideways and raising the racket head above the shoulder.

The player then swings downward at the ball, making contact out in front of the body and following through low.

Best Backhand Slice in Tennis

The backhand slice, meanwhile, is often used more offensively, especially by players who have the best backhand slice in tennis.

A player preparing for a backhand slice positions themselves sideways to the net, with the non-dominant hand pointing towards the incoming ball.

As the player swings, they step into the shot, hitting the ball with a high-to-low swing path while keeping the racket face slightly open.

The follow-through is essential, with the racket ending up high and the body weight transferred forward.

Tennis Backhand Slice Lesson – How To Slice Like Federer in 3 Steps

Slice Serve in Tennis

The slice serve in tennis is another crucial component of this technique.

Here, the server imparts sidespin on the ball by striking it at an angle.

This causes the ball to move left or right in the air (depending on the server’s handedness), and it typically bounces in the opposite direction upon landing.

The slice serve can be a very effective weapon, often throwing the receiver off balance.

Tennis Slice Serve Technique

The technique for a slice serve is similar to a regular serve but with a few differences in the point of contact and the racket’s swing path.

When making contact, the server aims to hit the side of the ball, which causes it to spin sideways.

The follow-through also moves more from left to right (or right to left for left-handed players) compared to the typical serve.

When to Use Slice in Tennis

Slice shots are highly versatile and can be used in various situations.

They are especially beneficial when:

  • Attempting to disrupt the opponent’s rhythm by changing the pace of the rally.
  • On the defensive, to buy time and get back into position.
  • Against baseline players who struggle with low balls.
  • Hitting approach shots, as the backspin helps keep the ball low and sets up a net volley.
  • Serving, to pull opponents wide and open up the court.

Backhand Slice is The Easiest Shot in Tennis

Disadvantages of Slice in Tennis

Despite the advantages, the slice has certain disadvantages too.

The slice shot is typically slower than a flat or topspin shot, which can give an opponent more time to prepare for their return.

Additionally, a poorly executed slice can float and present an easy opportunity for an opponent to attack.

Tennis Slice vs Topspin

The slice and topspin shots are opposites.

While the slice involves striking the ball with a high-to-low swing, imparting backspin, topspin involves a low-to-high swing, generating forward spin.

A topspin shot causes the ball to bounce high, while a slice keeps the ball low.

How to Counter Slice in Tennis

Countering a slice in tennis can be tricky due to the ball’s low bounce and slower pace.

A few strategies to counter a slice include moving forward to take the ball on the rise, using topspin to lift the low bouncing ball, or even using a slice in return to maintain the low bounce.

Learning and Mastering the Slice

Whether it’s knowing how to slice serve in tennis or mastering the tennis slice shot, consistent practice is key.

Taking tennis lessons or using online resources can help beginners learn the slice technique.

Regularly practicing can help you understand when to slice in tennis, how to deal with slice in tennis, and eventually use the slice shot effectively in matches.


A slice in tennis is a strategic and versatile shot that can add depth and variety to a player’s game.

Whether it’s the slice serve that takes an opponent wide or the slice shot that keeps an opponent guessing, understanding, and incorporating this skill can significantly enhance a player’s game.

FAQs – What Is a Slice in Tennis?

1. What is a slice in tennis?

A slice in tennis is a type of shot that players use to put underspin on the ball.

When hitting a slice, the racket’s movement is usually downward and across the body, which creates a spin causing the ball to move in the opposite direction upon landing on the opponent’s court.

It can be employed in a variety of situations, from defensive plays to offensive ones, depending on the player’s strategy.

2. What is a slice serve in tennis?

A slice serve in tennis is a serve technique where the player imparts sidespin on the ball.

The goal is to make the ball spin and curve in the air, then skid and bounce low and off to the side after it hits the ground.

This can be an effective tactic to keep the receiver off-balance and make the return of service more challenging.

3. How do I slice in tennis?

To slice in tennis, you should stand sideways to the net with your non-racket shoulder pointing towards your opponent.

As the ball approaches, drop your racket head below the ball level and hit the ball with a high to low swing while your racket slightly slices under the ball.

This will create underspin and the desired slice effect.

4. What are the disadvantages of using a slice in tennis?

While the slice shot can be an effective strategy in certain situations, it has some disadvantages.

It is slower and more predictable than a topspin shot, which can allow a prepared opponent to easily attack it.

Additionally, hitting a slice requires precise timing and control, and if not executed correctly, it can lead to errors or weak returns.

5. When should I use a slice in tennis?

Slice can be used in various scenarios in a match, such as when you’re pushed out wide and need to buy time to recover, to change the rhythm of the point, to hit low balls to an opponent with a weak low shot, or to approach the net with a low, skidding shot that’s difficult to pass.

It’s also effective as a defensive shot when you’re stretched out and need to get the ball back into play.

6. What is a slice tennis forehand?

A slice tennis forehand is a type of shot where the player uses a high to low swing with an open racket face to impart underspin on the ball.

This technique causes the ball to have a low trajectory and a low bounce, making it harder for the opponent to attack.

7. What is the difference between a tennis slice and a topspin?

The key difference lies in the direction of the spin and the resulting ball behavior.

A slice shot imparts underspin on the ball, causing it to stay low after bouncing and move relatively slowly, often with some sideways movement as well.

A topspin shot, on the other hand, imparts an upward spin that causes the ball to bounce high and move faster after hitting the ground.

8. How do I counter a slice in tennis?

Countering a slice requires anticipation and proper technique. Since slice shots tend to stay low, bend your knees and get down to the ball’s level.

Try to hit with topspin as it will help lift the ball over the net and land deep in your opponent’s court.

Patience is also essential since slice shots usually slow the pace of the game.

9. What does a slice do in tennis?

A slice shot in tennis creates a backspin or underspin on the ball, causing it to stay low and skid after bouncing.

It can disrupt the rhythm of the opponent, make the ball bounce in an unpredictable direction, and buy the hitter more time to get back into position.

10. How do I return a slice serve in tennis?

Returning a slice serve can be challenging due to its sideways movement.

The key is to anticipate the spin, move your feet quickly to get to the right position, and use a compact swing.

Aim to return the ball down the line or in the deep middle part of the court to limit the server’s angles for the next shot.

11. Who has the best slice in tennis?

Many professional tennis players have an effective slice, but the best is subjective and depends on personal preference.

Players like Roger Federer and Ashleigh Barty were well-known for their effective use of the slice shot.

12. What does ‘slice’ mean in tennis?

In tennis, ‘slice’ refers to the technique of hitting the ball with underspin, usually achieved by a high to low swing with the racket face slightly open.

This causes the ball to travel low over the net and skid on the ground, often moving slightly sideways as well.

13. How do I teach the slice in tennis?

Teaching the slice involves breaking down the technique into parts.

First, demonstrate the grip (Eastern forehand or Continental usually), stance, and swing path.

Teach them to start the racket high and swing downwards, contacting the ball with an open racket face.

Practice first without the ball, then with gentle tosses, and finally, introduce the movement in rallying or match play.

It’s essential to give feedback and correct the technique as necessary.


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