Almost every day, my players tell me about how they played a person over the weekend who sliced everything and they felt like they couldn’t do anything to counter these super low and short shots. Although this can be very frustrating to play against these opponents, the truth is, there are plenty of tactics you can utilize in order to counter this playing style. Although you have to remember that the reason this style of play exists is simply because it works.
First things first – Know who you are up against
A player who slices everything most likely has a highly-limited arsenal in regards to changing up their tactics and what they can throw at you. This is a great advantage to well-rounded players, and a great motivator to practice various strokes from all parts of the court. Do not expect these matches and points to be ideal. As a matter of fact, they’ll probably be the exact opposite. Think about the worst day in traffic you have ever experienced. It’s car after car for miles and you’re left with only a few choices. You can press the gas as hard as you can and hope that your car starts flying (You’ll probably crash into the car in front of you); you can get upset and start honking your horn – which does nothing except create more stress for you and everyone around you; or you can prepare yourself to get comfortable, think of all the positives, turn up the music to 100 and realize that every inch, every foot and every mile is a step closer to getting out of that traffic jam. This same concept applies to playing these types of players. You will have to be patient and remain disciplined throughout the entire match. Take everything point by point and realize that points are going to be long and untraditional. Tony Robbins once said “There’s two worlds to master: There’s the external world, and there’s the internal world.” “And many people master the external world and they’re miserable. They’re good in business. They do well in their career, and they’re miserable. They’re not happy. They’re not fulfilled. They don’t have great relationships. So, I really believe the internal world has to be mastered first,” and that involves creating a new strategy to act on. The way I translate this to tennis is you must first mentally prepare yourself for these types of inevitable opponents. If you do not have that, you will most likely fail against these opponents, even if you know how to beat them. However, at the same time you must prepare your skills in practice specifically towards YOU playing against this style. Personalize your preparation.
Here are a few things you will want to prepare and use against these players.
- Perfect YOUR slice
On the really low slices from your opponent, you will want to slice these back. However, I would not get into a slice battle with these opponents, as they like the ball low. Be careful to not play into their game.
- Perfect your Drop-shot
The drop-shot is a great shot to use against these players. If you can pull them forward enough while keeping the ball low you will force them to hit up on the ball in order to get it over the net. This will give you some sitters that you can/should take advantage of.
- Bend you knees! Get low and Stay Low!
It’s inevitable that these players are going to pull you forward and put you in some awkward places on the court. Staying low is something you are in complete control of. If you do stay low, I believe that this can help you win a minimum of 5 points for simply using your legs.
- High Hard and Heavy balls
A major weakness of the slice is hitting above the shoulders. Go ahead and actually moon-ball these players. Chances are they aren’t going to do anything with these except give you short balls. If you can hit high-hard and heavy with conservative angles to the inside targets you will be able to force these players to hit balls above their shoulders, on the run, and behind them. There are very few players who can hit decent slices in these situations at the recreational level. Personally, I would choose this tactic ALL DAY LONG! High hard and heavy balls to their weaker slicing side and hunting for my chance to come in and finish the point.
- Look for the weaker side
Everyone will have a weaker side. You will want to watch for this. Usually the forehand is the weaker slicing side. However, I have seen some legendary hacks out there. Sometimes these players won’t actually slice on one side. Be sure to look at the height of their contact point(s) in correlation with where their balls tend to land on your end of the court. Everybody has a different contact point.
- Get to the net!
You probably don’t want to hang out on the baseline against these players or you will be in for a very long match. Play smart shots and work your way to the net. Be careful about getting too close to the net, like always. Remember that the slice is very similar to the lob. Both shots have the same grip and the similar starting points. The only difference is the finish. So be ready to hit a lot of high volleys and overheads because these slicers can usually lob pretty well. Once again, don’t kill these balls out of frustration. It is very likely that the majority of the points in this match will not be as you imagined.
- Use Angle Volleys and Overheads
When you get to the net use angle volleys and overheads. Perhaps even put a little topspin on those overheads. This will make it very tough for these players to hit any effective lobs or slices.
- Don’t Over hit
I have never seen one of these players hit the ball very hard or go for big shots. Therefore, you don’t want to be beating yourself by going for too much while they are just using your pace against you. The slice is a shot that is used for changing up the pace of a point, so these players are very good at absorbing pace and not creating it. The slice can only be hit so hard.
- Carlos Bermudez Tennis