Apply the brake to slide on clay

On clay courts, to stay balanced while you stop and change directions, it helps to know how to slide. If you play mostly on hard surfaces that grip your feet, you may not have learned this clay-court technique. Let’s take a look at it.

On clay you want to slide into your shots using your front foot as a brake pedal. Just before getting to the ball, lean back slightly and plant your front foot flat on the ground, pointed in the direction you are going. As you “push the brake pedal”, that is, transfer your weight from back foot to front foot as you slide, you will gradually come to a stop. Ideally you should come to a stop just as you reach the ball and execute your stroke. This allows you to recover quicker and be ready to move to the next ball.

Many players dislike clay courts because they feel that they can not get their footing or change directions quickly. This is usually because they are sliding after they hit the ball. This puts them out of position and takes valuable time away from their recovery. Remember to slide into the shot, not after.

It takes some practice to develop the timing for this technique so get out on the courts and improve that slide.