There are a lot of shots to master on the pickleball court. One common shot to master is the slice—which is a shot where you put backspin on the pickleball (i.e., spin that travels from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock back toward the player that makes contact with the ball). A slice—whether a forehand slice or a backhand slice—is a common shot selection on returns of serve and dinks at the Kitchen line. A slice is an effective shot because:
- Backspin will typically cause the pickleball to take longer to travel in the air (as opposed to a flat shot, which would travel at a faster pace). This means that you will have more time to get to the Kitchen line and regain court position.
- A slice will usually stay low to the ground after the bounce. This is key in preventing your opponents from going on the attack (as the pickleball typically will stay low).
- The spin on the pickleball can create problems for your opponents when hitting their shot, as the pickleball could slide or skip upon contact.
To hit the perfect slice on the pickleball court, try these 4 tips:
- Pull Your Paddle Head Up by Your Ear – For your basic flat drive (with no spin), you generally are trying to keep your paddle head down by your waist and on a level plane through your shot. In contrast, for a slice, you will pull your paddle head up by your ear (whether on your paddle side or non-paddle side of your body, depending if you are hitting a forehand slice or a backhand slice). This is because, in order to generate the proper backspin on your slice, you will need to travel down and forward through the pickleball on an angle. So, get your paddle head up by your ear.
- Use an Open Paddle Angle – For your basic flat drive (with no spin), you will have a flat paddle face. In contrast, for your slice, you will have a slightly open paddle face up toward the sky (think 45 degrees or so). This open paddle face—in combination with the high-to-low paddle trajectory—will generate your backspin on your slice. Be careful not to overcompensate and open your paddle face too much, as this may have a tendency for the pickleball to float in the air too much and sail out of bounds.
- Use a Controlled Paddle Trajectory – Like other shots on the pickleball court, be sure to use a short backswing (again, to your ear!) and make contact out in front of your body. Also, be careful not to pull your paddle across your body or chop or stop your paddle swing. Rather, swing your pickleball paddle from your ear in a straight line down and forward toward your target, using one continuous, controlled motion. Lastly, consider sending your non-paddle arm in the opposite direction (i.e., behind you) to help with your balance.
- Follow Your Slice – Immediately after contact, allow your feet and body to follow your shot. This will help you generate some power into your shot and take advantage of your momentum to prepare for the next one.