Are you struggling to hit a consistent, accurate, and powerful tennis slice serve? I get a lot of players asking me how to develop a rock solid wide slice serve. That is a great question, because I believe the wide slice serve is one of the most overlooked, but effective shots in tennis.
Everyone talks about the lefty wide slice, used by all-time greats like McEnroe and Nadal. However, it can also be a powerful weapon for a right handed player on the deuce court. In fact, serving out wide and playing the next shot to the open court is one of the best singles strategies.
For instance, Roger Federer uses it often to draw his opponents off the court and dominate with his forehand on the first shot. Thus, you should consider to master and use the tennis slice serve.
The slice serve was one of my best shots on the tour and took me a lot of time to develop. Today, I will share five simple steps to help you master your wide slice serve and rapidly take it to the next level. Hence, you can start using it more often, have more fun and win more tennis matches.
Let’s get going!
To begin, make sure that you have a continental grip. I have coached many tennis players who use a forehand semi-western, or eastern grip on their tennis slice serve. Even those with a continental grip have the tendency to open their hand, and switch their grip after tossing the ball. If you have been playing tennis for any length of time, you should know what a continental grip is.
Here are a couple of things that you should keep in mind. First, spread your index finger and angle the hand on the racquet, both are very important. Second, get the heel of the hand off your racquet. Third, keep your arm and hand nice and loose to reduce tension throughout the shot. Here is a video of me demonstrating the Continental Grip.
Watch from 1:23 to 2:06 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sUK8cY1gbk.
I want you to focus on making a small little adjustment with your stance before you even hit your tennis slice serve. It can be very difficult to hit a big slice out wide if your back foot is too far behind you, and pointing towards the side fence. Therefore, I recommend pointing your feet slightly more towards the net. Make sure that your back foot is either parallel or pointing a little bit as well.
When you are in this position, it will be easier for you to bring your body around to hit a great tennis slice serve. Do not worry if your opponent can see your position, you can still trick them and hit a different type of serve. This simple adjustment on your stance can dramatically improve your tennis slice serve.
Another powerful tip to hit a wide tennis slice serve is to stand further from the centre T. Standing wider can be a huge help when hitting a wide tennis slice serve, because it gives you a much better angle to aim at. Consequently, you will be able to hit that nasty slice on the sideline that your opponent will have trouble reaching.
Do not be concerned about your serve position tipping off your opponent. For one, I believe hitting a good serve is far more important than obsessing over disguise. Secondly, you can still hit an effective serve up the T from out wide. You can feel free to mix things up if you are concerned about keeping your opponent on their toes.
I have noticed that many players struggle with their toss on their tennis slice serve. In fact, they have the tendency to place the ball over their head or slightly to the left. If you are making a similar mistake, you need to change it right away as it limits your ability to hit a great slice serve. The key is getting your toss out in front, towards the net post, and to the side. Thus, you can make contact on the outside of your shoulder.
If you are a righty, try to toss the ball a little bit more to your right. On the opposite, you will toss the ball slightly to the left hand side as a lefty. It will be much easier for you to create more sidespin on the ball if you move your toss over to the right. This will let you carve around the ball and get the ball to move away from your opponent. As a result, you will hit better tennis slice serves.
If your toss is too far to the left, you will often end up with more topspin, instead of the slice serve sidespin. If you really want to master the toss on the tennis slice serve, check out one of my best serve toss tips. In terms of the height, I recommend a low toss for the slice serve. Hence, you will be able to hit the ball as it is rising or right at its peak. In fact, if you have a low toss, it is easier to slice the ball or hit it flat.
I learned this tennis slice serve tip from John Yandell years ago, when I was playing on the tour. When you reach up to make contact, you want to feel like the racquet is more up and down. The more that the racquet is straight up and down, the more that you can carve around the ball. Now, do not get me wrong when you are hitting a slice serve, there is still some pronation that can happen.
Listen to the sound of the ball hitting the strings and notice the different sounds. This is an awareness drill, an awareness concept. For instance, a lot of players focus on what is called the clock face. I have received plenty of emails and messages related to the clock face, and whether to go from 9 to 3 or 6 to 2.
I will be honest, I have rarely thought about the clock face, when I was a player and now as a coach. Instead, I recommend focusing on the sound and making the necessary adjustments after each serve. In fact, you can ask yourself these two questions. Should I get more of the ball? Should I accelerate more or less at contact?
Likewise, one of the biggest problems with players is that they are dumping their tennis slice serve into the net. This happens when they decide to go from hitting a flatter serve, or a topspin serve to a slicer. Similarly, they are probably decelerating and not getting enough for the ball. Therefore, I recommend working on getting more of the ball and aiming a foot or two above the net.
As long as you are missing in the tape, you are on the right track. If you are missing several inches below the tape, then that means you are not getting enough of the ball. This is an interesting concept that you can play around with.
The finish is something that is hardly discussed by tennis coaches and players, but can make a huge difference on your tennis slice serve. Therefore, I suggest paying attention to how you follow through. Focus on bringing your shoulders around so that they face more towards the side fence than the net. Likewise, finish with your arm bent instead of straight and locked to ensure relaxation.
Another little known tip for developing a wide slice serve in tennis is to adjust what your hand does at the finish position. You should curl your hand so that your palm is facing towards the sky. This curl will help you gain more spin (slice) and control. This will ensure that you get the most carve possible on your wide tennis slice serve.
If you want to gain that consistency and reliability on your tennis slice serve, finish the same way every single time. Now of course you must have the right grip, get your toss in the right place, and swing correctly. Follow this model on how to follow through on your tennis slice serve. It may seem a little weird and counterintuitive, but I have tested it on myself and on the player. Thus, I know it can be the fastest way to develop a great tennis slice serve.
Now, let me share two little-known serve drills to help you completely dial in your tennis slice serve. I recommend practicing them consistently after you have established a solid technique foundation on your slice serve.
The Sidearm Special Drill
The “sidearm special ” is a wonderful drill to help you develop an amazing tennis slice serve. To properly practice it, focus on these five steps. First, hold your continental grip. Then, get into a nice serve stance with your feet slightly pointed as I described in step two. After, toss the ball out to the side. Next, come around the ball from the side. Focus on swinging out around the side of your body and finishing across your body. Rinse and repeat.
The Sideline Drill
The “sideline serve drill” is another fantastic exercise to practice your tennis slice serve. To perform it well, follow these three simple progressions. First, stand way out wide, almost in the doubles alley. Next, toss the ball far to the right and lower than normal. Then, concentrate on carving around the ball with a side arm swing.
It will be much easier to see and create a slice angle when you stand out wide. Do not worry too much about where the ball goes while you are exaggerating this feeling. Instead focus on getting more slice on the ball.
Those are your five steps and two drills to completely master your tennis slice serve. I outlined how to get the right grip, stance, toss, contact point, and finish. Now, the key to successfully implementing these valuable tips is to focus on the process, and work on each concept at a time.
I am confident that if you combine the secrets shared above and practice both serve drills, you will absolutely transform your tennis slice serve. In fact, you will soon develop a wicked wide slice serve that is sure to frustrate your opponents in no time flat.
I hope you have found these little known tips on how to hit a wide slice serve helpful. As the serve surgeon, I am committed to helping players all over the world, and I want to get you to the next level faster in your serve journey. Thank you for taking the time to read this comprehensive tennis article.
By Jeff Salzenstein, Founder Tennis Evolution
Jeff is a former top 100 ATP player and USTA high performance coach committed to helping players and coaches all over the world improve.
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