How to Slide on a Clay Court: 5 Steps to Perfect your Footwork

Are you looking to improve your clay court game? Want to glide over the dirt like a true matador?

Well, if you’re tired of feeling off balance when reaching for a wide shot on a clay court, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s take a closer look at how to stay balanced when hitting your shots and slide on a clay court the right way!

Why is it Important to Learn How to Slide on Clay? 

Clay is a great surface to play on when you want to develop consistency and variety in your game. Players with a counterpunching game style like Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, and Andy Murray have used the slower, higher bouncing surface to develop their shots from an early age. 

You too can use clay courts to your advantage, by understanding how to move on the surface and developing an effective game plan to approach any situation. 

However, before you can start dominating clay courts, you must know how to slide on them! 

This movement pattern used to be unique to the dirt, but in recent years we have seen more and more professional tennis players sliding on hard or even grass courts. 

With that being said, understanding how to slide into your shots on a clay court will help you move more efficiently, transition from defense to attack more quickly, and ensure you are retrieving as many balls as possible.

How to Slide on a Clay Court (Step by Step)

So, here is your step-by-step guide to help improve your ability to slide on clay courts. Follow these simple steps to get the most out of your legs on the dirt. 

Slinging on clay courts is a unique proposition, as this is the only surface that moves under you as you glide across it. Therefore, it’s essential to remain balanced, understand when to use a slide and when not, and slide confidently.

Step 1: Work on Your Balance

The first thing to do before working on your clay court sliding is to work on your balance. 

This is an essential part of mastering the slide since you will be trying to glide across the court, slow down, transfer your weight from one foot to the other and hit your shot all at the same time! 

Therefore, using a bosu ball will help.

If you’re wondering what a bosu ball is, it’s like a half-moon balance ball with a solid base designed to improve balance and agility. 

Hopping from one foot to the other, or simply standing and balancing on one leg will help you improve your balance and ability to slide on clay.


Step 2: Slide Before You Hit, Not After

Next, think about the timing of your slide. If you think about it, sliding on a clay court is used to slow you down in one long lunge, rather than multiple short steps like you would use on a grass court. 

Therefore, you’ll want to slow down and slide into your shots, rather than hit a forehand or backhand and then slide away after. 

You should only ever slide after you’ve hit your shot when you are chasing down a drop shot or a very wide ball and have virtually no time to slow down before hitting the shot.

In this situation, the key is to focus on getting the ball back into court rather than sliding into your shot. 

With this in mind, think about your slide on most other shots as applying the brakes on a car, gradually slowing down into your shot before pushing off and changing direction, to recover for the next one.

Step 3: Check out The Tennis Bros Footwork Course

The next step you can take towards improving your ability to slide on clay courts is to check out The Tennis Bros footwork course

Our “On Your Toes” footwork guide will give you the perfect platform to take your tennis movement to the next level. We’ve put our combined experience together to produce a top-quality online resource that you can use to improve your footwork from the comfort of your own home. 

We have also worked with ex-ATP professional turned master coach Dave Ireland. Dave’s mission is to help players at all levels improve their tennis, and he wants to share his footwork secrets with you. 

If you want to take your footwork to the next level, check out our “On Your Toes” footwork guide today.

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Step 4: Stay Low and Time Your Slide to Perfection

Following on from being balanced and sliding before rather than after hitting your shot where possible, it is also important to stay low and time your slide correctly. 

The aim is to slide into your shot so you stop pretty much as you are about to hit your shot. The idea is to use the sliding motion to cover more ground in one lunge than you would taking a number of smaller steps. 

Therefore, sliding into your shot early enough to allow you to step and hit in a balanced position is a key part of improving your clay court footwork. 

Also, staying as low as possible and bending your knees so you are pretty much in a full lunge whilst sliding on clay is a great way to keep your center of gravity low and improve your balance.

Step 5: Practice Sliding on Clay Courts

The final tip to improve your sliding on a clay court is to actually practice it.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Before you start your tennis session on clay, practice running and sliding to slow down up and down the side of the court so you are ready, balanced, and primed!

Once You’ve Learned How to Slide on a Clay Court, the Next Step is to Work On Your Tactics! 

Clay court tennis is not just about moving in the right way, you also have to have the right game plan to go with it. 

That’s why we have also put together our singles tactics course to help you take your understanding of the game to the next level. Learn how to outsmart your opponents and use precision rather than power to take them down.

Simple Guide to Sliding on Clay Courts

We hope this simple guide to sliding on clay courts helps you take your game to the next level and gives you more confidence in this difficult movement pattern. 

Sliding on clay courts doesn’t have to be too complicated. If you follow the simple steps above and check out our useful online courses, you’ll be a natural on the surface in no time. 

For more great free tennis tips, check out these articles below: 

Check out our On Your Toes Tennis Footwork Guide today.

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