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Friday, September 16, 2016

Sarah's Slice Shots

Sarah Ansboury's video Pickleball Slice illustrates the techniques of hitting a groundstroke with slice or underspin. I'm not a big fan of adding spin to a player's game because their pratice time can be better spent learning the more basic shots of the game. But players may reach a point where adding topspin or slice shots can help them advance to the next level. As usual, Sarah's techniques are very good and well explained.

Sarah demonstrates both the forehand and backhand slice shots in the video. This is one of those rare occasions when the backhand is actually the easier shot. The reason is the physics of the shot combined with the mechanics of the body.

The backhand shot requires minimal body rotation as the paddle rotates around the body using the shoulder as a pivot point. This can be seen in the following 2 photos, the first taken at the start of the swing and the second at the end of the swing.

Compare that to the more exaggerated body rotation of the forehand slice as illustrated in the next 2 photos. Her shoulders have turned much more from start to finish.

When hitting the backhand, the first item of note is to set the paddle above a firm wrist.

The underspin is created on the paddle contact with the ball as the paddle moves from a high to low position. There is some slight opening of the paddle face during the motion. But the motion is not a severe imparting of spin with a violent sweeping motion or chopping motion by the wrist. The swing does include an extension of the shoulders. The end of the swing is an exaggerated hold to ensure that the ball has left the paddle. This swing actually keeps the paddle in contact with the ball longer than a regular shot where the ball pops off the paddle face.

The forehand shot creates spin in the same way, i.e., the paddle moves from high to low in a forward motion with the face opening slightly as it advances. But the power is generated with the torso rotation rather than the shoulder pivot. The necessary synchronization of more body parts in motion makes the forehand a more difficult shot.

So why even bother with this tough shot? The answer is that creates a more difficult return for the opponent. A slice shot bounces low and fast, thus making the return harder to make. It is worth the time to learn...but only after getting the basics down first.

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