Skip to Content

How To Return a Slice in Pickleball

A professional pickleball player slicing a ball using backhand.

If you want to become good at pickleball, you have to learn the shots. You have to learn how to execute them well. You also have to learn how to anticipate them and react to them. There is a great deal of strategy in pickleball. It is also crucial to remember that many pickleball players have also played tennis.

They most likely have fast and hard shots down. You have to bring your best game to every pickleball court. One of the first steps to doing this is to learn how to slice in pickleball. Continue reading to find out more information about a slice.

Related To: Can You Side Serve in Pickleball? | What is a Chop in Pickleball? | Types of Pickleball Training Aids | Can You Smash in Pickleball?

What is a Slice in Pickleball?


Anytime your shot has a backspin on it, it is a slice. It can be used with either a backhand return or a forehand return. It is an effective way to keep the ball deep and low. This can help you throw your opponent off their game.

How to Return a Slice in Pickleball

A yellow pickleball left inside the court line.

No matter how new you are to pickleball, you know that hitting an effective return is key to your success, which includes scoring points. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure you effectively return a slice in pickleball.

Position is Important

You want to ensure that you are about two to three feet behind the baseline when you are returning a serve. Placing yourself in this position allows you to transfer your weight forward when you hit the return.

Many new players often stand close to the baseline, which means they have to move backward and transfer their weight back to return the slice. Therefore, you always want to have your weight transferring forward.

Slow Down the Return

A person planning to make a service on a pickleball match.

Pickleball Master Course by Steve Dawson ($199)

Another key point to remember is that the harder you hit the pickleball to your opponent means, the harder it is returned to you. For this reason, you want to do everything you can to slow down the slice on your return. This does many things for you. Once you slow down the ball, it slows down the ball and keeps it in play.

It also gives you more time to get to the non-volley line (NVL). When you do not slow down the return, you will not be able to get through the transition zone. This keeps you stuck there, making your shots more difficult.

Send Back a Slice

An old man with a red pickleball paddle.

When you send back a slice return, it makes it challenging for your opponent to return the serve back to you. When you send back a slice, it keeps the ball low. As a result, it is more difficult for your opponent to get under the ball to drive it or drop it. When you add various spins to your ball, it creates many different challenges for your opponent, especially when they are not expecting it.

Return Deep

When you are able to make a deep return, it creates a more difficult and longer shot for your opponent. It keeps them further away from the NVL. This provides you the ability to extend your advantage with court positioning. You want to focus on hitting the ball to the center to reduce the potential for during the serve return.

Lift the Ball

An old man with sunglasses playing pickleball.


When you are returning a slice, you want to focus on lifting the ball. You want the ball to arc just over the net to prevent it from being able to be attacked in the kitchen. It would be best if you kept your hand moving from low to high. You can rip the slice back, but you want to be sure to aim higher than you usually would.

You want to focus on lifting the ball, as that is key. You want to keep your paddle face down and have a strong and forceful follow-through. Remember to step back off the line. You do not want to stay close to the line.