Relishing Pickleball: Countering the Slice Shot

David Zapatka

Last month we discussed hitting slice returns of serve and dinks. This month we are discussing how to counter the opponent’s slice returns and dinks.

Consider using these strategies to counter the opponent’s slice shots.

* Hit through the spin using a flat drive shot. By driving the ball, you are countering the heavy backspin and looking for a weaker shot from your opponents on the next return. It may seem difficult to hit through the spin because a sliced ball does not bounce as high as other shots. To counter this, you have to hit up on your drive to make sure your shot goes over the net yet not out of the court. You can reduce this risk by taking some pace off your drive.

* Another strategy is to drop your third shot just over the net into the kitchen. To do this, you will need to get under the ball. Bend your knees. Get low to the ground. This is necessary because the sliced ball is not bouncing as high as a normal shot. Lift up through the ball, hitting through the spin. If you aren’t very deliberate with your shot, the slice may “eat you up.” Exaggerate your stroke. Give yourself some margin for error over the net. Stay steady in your position keeping calm your head, body and feet.

* The third strategy is to attack the slice with topspin. Remember, the slice shot from your opponent is moving from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock. This is the same direction of spin you hit when you hit a topspin shot. When you topspin a slice, you are aggressively accelerating your opponent’s slice making their next shot more difficult. These balls are tough to deal with as they dip aggressively toward the court and bounce higher than a normal shot.

Remember these important points as you consider these strategies.

* Move your feet to position yourself in your strike zone.

* Make contact with the ball in front of your body.

* Watch the opponent’s stroke to see if they are hitting side spin on their slice. Recognize if it is a forehand or a backhand sidespin slice. A right-hander’s forehand sidespin slice will move from your right to your left. A right-hander’s backhand sidespin slice will move from your left to your right. You will have to adjust to the amount of curve and position yourself in the correct location to get your body out of the way, create the correct amount of distance between you and the ball, stop your movement and hit your shot. Lefties will hit sidespin slices that go the opposite direction as righties.

Practice these suggestions and learn how to counter those opponents who hit those nasty slice returns and dinks.

Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].