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THE SIDE SPIN SLICE SERVE – HOW TO DO & USE IT
Assuming Right-Handedness, By TennisTom 2010
The heavy side spin slice serve can be considered a “secret” because so few servers have it in their arsenal. It is most suited for 3.0 to 3.5 level players.
Players that use spin in their game can usually hit a side spin slice serve with moderate success. A side spin slice serve is a serve that you hit with heavy side spin. It does not have any topspin (overspin). A “pure” slice serve is done by hitting the tossed ball from its center toward a 3 o’clock position, as on a clock. A right hander’s slice serve will curve to the left, and when it hits a hard court surface, it continues to skid leftward. It should be used either to 1) pull the receiver out wide, which opens up the center of the court, or 2) to jam the receiver because it curves into his body.
The heavy slice serve is best used as an alternative first serve. As the side sliced ball does not have topspin, it should be hit with less racket speed than the topspin serve because it does not clear the net as much. 20 to 25 percent less than your first serve speed is a general recommendation. It can be used as a second serve but your racket speed will need to be even slower in order to reduce error risk.
In my experience the into-the-body option is the more effective. If you practice this body-jam option and are fairly successful with it, you will be getting lots of “free” points because the average receiver is simply not used to hitting balls which are curving into his body. This is true even if they are suspecting that you might use it.
How to do it.
Grip. You can use an Eastern grip or a Continental grip. I prefer an Eastern grip purely from preference. Some may find the Continental or a backhand grip more to their liking.
Path of racket head swing. As you swing at the ball you can visualize peeling an orange from left to right. If you use a clock face for reference, the path of your racket swing moves roughly from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock. The racket should approach the ball at a slightly oblique, edge-first manner. For those of you who use pronation (rotating your wrist in a downward counter-clockwise motion), you should note that this serve uses very little pronation. As with any serve, your timing is important.
Contact point. Your racket-to-ball contact point will be lower than if you were hitting a flat or topspin serve. For right-handers, your racket moves in a left-to-right brushing action. Your racket head moves more laterally than forward. After you hit the ball, your racket follow-through moves across the front of your body right-to-left along a diagonally downward line. Your racket head ends up at a spot to the lower left of your body, as do all other serves (except for the contorted reverse-spin trick serve, or the devious underhand serve). Your upper body has some typical “uncoiling” rotation but almost no forward body weight energy. In essence, this is an all-arm stroke.
Depending on variables, your ball will curve anywhere around a foot to two to your left – as a right hander. Wooo! When I demonstrate this serve on court, most students say exactly that, “Wooo!” On a successful side-spin serve, the harder you swing, the more the ball will curve, so it takes lots of practice to achieve the desired compromise.
Bear in mind that when you say “slice serve,” many experienced tennis folks will assume you mean a topspin slice serve, which has overspin as well as side spin. The pure side spin slice serve described in this instructional has little to do with the topspin slice serve, so don’t confuse the considerably different techniques. Use the guidelines that I have mentioned above for the pure side spin serve.
The serve in tennis, any kind of serve, is the most under-practiced stroke of all strokes that are frequently used. Think about it. Every point begins with a serve. Does it make any sense to seldom practice such a fundamental stroke? (Ah, the rhetorical question lives again.) If you are at the stage of tennis where your serve is just a means to get a point started, that’s OK, but eventually you will want to develop a serve that makes it difficult for your opponent to return. The heavy pure slice serve is such a serve. The ball is now in your court.
Incidentally a pretty good left-handed pro tennis player used the side slice serve against right-handers with great results. You may have heard of him – John McEnroe.
[18-Side Spin Slice Serve – How to Do & Use It by TennisTom] [Rev 6-12-10]