How to Return a Slice Serve (Simple Guide)

Are you looking to improve your slice serve return in tennis? Are players always bringing you out wide and hitting to the open space?

We’re going to walk you through every step so you can start hitting a better slice serve return, and get you well on your way to winning more tennis matches.

Let’s take a look at how to improve your ability to return a slice serve and keep you in the rallies!

Why is it Important to Learn How to Return a Slice Serve?

The majority of tennis players will get frustrated when they are struggling to return their opponent’s serve, especially when the opponent has one serve that they keep relying on. This is often the case when a left-handed player plays against a right-handed player. 

The lefty will usually swing their slice serve into the backhand of the right-handed player. The lefty has the natural advantage of carving around the outside of the ball and getting their slice serve to move away from their opponent. While this is a tricky serve to return as a righty, it is not impossible. 

The aim of the slice serve is to bring you out of court, so your opponent can hit into the open space and get you on the run. This simple tactic can be used to great effect against players of all levels, but it mainly relies on the returner not anticipating the slice serve and being out of position in the first place. 

However, you can counter this by understanding that the vast majority of first serves in tennis are hit with some degree of slice spin. Therefore, understanding how to return a heavily sliced serve can actually improve your return of serve overall! 

The great Novak Djokovic managed to master Rafael Nadal’s slice serve to his backhand and turn around his head to head record with the king of clay. So, if you want to know the secrets to return a killer slice serve, keep reading!

How to Hit the Perfect Slice Serve Return in Tennis

There are actually a number of steps to consider when you are looking to improve your ability to return a slice serve. There is a specific skill set that differs slightly from returning a very fast first serve or a kick serve, but the principles carry over.

Step 1: Look at’s Return of Serve Course

The first step to conquering the slice serve return is to enrol in our Return of Serve Course. This is the first step to taking your game to the next level! 

Using our online resources is a great way to learn the fundamentals of the return, where to position yourself, how to hit with proper technique, and the tactical side of reading service motions too! 

You’ll learn about Dave Ireland, our in-house coach with decades of professional playing and coaching experience. 

Whilst there is no substitute for getting out there onto the court, there is a lot to be said for taking proactive steps towards improving your game, but learning the correct technical and tactical elements of tennis ahead of time. That way you’ll be reinforcing good habits on the court rather than bad ones!

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Step 2: Focus on Placement Over Power

The next step to mastering the slice serve return, is actually a tactical one. 

So often we see players who take a big swing at a return, hoping to hit a winner or get on top of the point straight away. However, when it comes to returning all serves, but particularly slice serves, timing is everything. 

You have to remember that a serve will generally be coming down much faster than any groundstroke your opponent will hit throughout a rally, so you have to give yourself more time and more margin for error on your returns. This is the only way to stay consistent! 

Don’t forget, your opponent is swinging the ball out wide to try and get you out of position. However, you can nullify this tactic by placing your return in an uncomfortable position for them, for example on their backhand or deep on their toes. What’s more, if you hit your slice serve return slightly slower and deeper than normal, you’ll give yourself more time to recover to a better position in the court!

Step 3: Adjust Your Angles

Next, you should think about your angles when returning a slice serve. As previously mentioned, it can be frustrating when your opponent is able to find that short angle in the service box with their spinny slice serve, as it leaves the court wide open for them to hit into. 

However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way! If you step in a little further towards the tramlines and angle your feet so they are pointing towards the court, you’ll find that the slice serve is a lot easier to return. This is because the ball will now be swinging into your hitting zone rather than away from it!

Step 4: Play the Percentages

Finally, remember to play the percentages, especially when returning a slice serve. There is a lot to be said for playing sensible tennis in general, but when your opponent has a strong slice serve, it is even more important. 

Remember, your opponent has an advantage when using their slice serve if you miss or give them a put-away ball as their next shot. However, if you hit a solid, deep return up the middle of the court that takes away their angles and gives you time to get back into position, they won’t want to keep sliding the ball out wide anymore!

Once You’ve Mastered the Slice Serve Return It’s Time to Improve Your Own Slice Serve! 

Now you have improved your ability to return a slice serve, you can start focusing on giving your opponents a taste of their own medicine! Learning how to swing your serve in and push your opponents into the tramlines is made a lot easier with our Carving the Slice Serve online course

We break down the fundamentals of how to hit more spin, expose your opponent’s positioning and open up the court to your advantage.

Simple Guide to Return a Slice Serve In Tennis

Overall, learning how to return all types of tennis serves effectively will help to improve your game. However, since the slice serve is a weapon so widely relied upon by players at all levels of the game, being able to negate this can make you a very difficult player to beat. 

There is a lot to be said for understanding the angles of the tennis court, playing the percentages, and opting for placement over raw power. You’ll learn all this and a whole bunch more in our Return of Serve course. So what are you waiting for, check it out today!

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