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View Full Version : For those of you wishing to improve your split step...


xFullCourtTenniSx
10-12-2009, 03:20 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1uGf4T2Y74

This is a great video on the athletic foundation and what your split step should essentially do for you.

I've heard of this "athletic foundation" from the Bollettieri camp but never paid much attention to it back then.

I've learned everything I know from extensive reading, lots of videos, watching pros, and personal experience (yes, sadly I have very little life outside tennis, though I still have a life for those of you questioning that!). So I actually somewhat naturally developed an athletic foundation from watching Federer play and imitating him while also focusing on things I generally noticed improve my footwork and movement.

The culmination of these experiences and focus points have led me to develop nearly the exact same athletic stance as the student described in the video (albeit I think my base is wider) even though I am self taught (though in essence, even if you have a coach, you're still mainly self taught from what you feel works for you, and they'll GUIDE you to the correct technique and give you certain pointers that helped them from their own self teaching, they won't mold you into having perfect technique). I was wrong about being 1 foot lower than standing height. Apparently it was 6 inches. My bad. :oops: But either way, the idea is to lower your center of gravity. This is what helps you fight against power and gives you consistency. If the ball can't push you around, the power is neutralized and you can hit your shot and fight back with the addition of your own power generated from the ground and your athletic stance (oh, and your swing too I guess).

Anyways, I was going to go into depth my ideas of the split step and blah blah blah, but that video does a good job of summing it up and simplifying it as well. Though you'd have to apply the idea of an athletic stance to the split step. It won't make any sense otherwise.

I'll still sum up some of my ideas:

-It should lower your center of gravity
-The lowering of your center of gravity (if done properly like in the video), will load your muscles like a spring so you can have a quick burst first step.
-It should balance you if you're off balance and if you're on balance it should add speed to your first step.
-When leaving the split step, you should stay in this lowered position because like I said above, it'll add power and consistency to your stroke. Also, it'll be easier and faster to move around as well as shortening your body preparation time. As we all know, to get to low balls we need to bend our legs, well the job's already done! To get to a medium ball, we might need to have our body a little more upright, no problem! To get to a high ball, we need some heavy load/unload and spring in our legs to really attack it, well you're legs are already fully loaded!

There's probably more, but I'll put that up later if it comes to me and I feel it's worth your time to read it. (Okay, I might not go through that much consideration of your time, but if I think it's helpful or important, I'll post it in this thread.)

Also, did you all find this helpful? I hope it was. :neutral:

GuyClinch
10-12-2009, 04:31 AM
That is the kind of tiring work you need to do if you want to really start to improve your game. Its not just the split step but the athletic foundation that's so important.

Its the kind of thing SOME tennis pros ignore or believe is 'natural' (The MTM people).. It wasn't natural for me.

Pete

Djokovicfan4life
10-12-2009, 06:31 AM
I don't agree with part of the first step reaction section. He wants the student to crossover immediately following his split step. I think it's faster to step out with the inside leg and then perform the crossover.

EikelBeiter
10-12-2009, 06:40 AM
I don't agree with part of the first step reaction section. He wants the student to crossover immediately following his split step. I think it's faster to step out with the inside leg and then perform the crossover.

I agree with you, thats also how i've been taught. Open your inside foot take a step and then crossover.

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-12-2009, 06:46 AM
I don't agree with part of the first step reaction section. He wants the student to crossover immediately following his split step. I think it's faster to step out with the inside leg and then perform the crossover.

I actually feel the same way. But I didn't really mention it because he had some sort of evidence (fabricated or not) to support his claim.

I personally feel like pushing off the outside foot and stepping out with my inside foot is what is most natural and works for me. Though I might be faster doing it their way... Though 0.03 seconds isn't going to help me too much at this point. :cry:

tricky
10-12-2009, 01:49 PM
One way to get into the athletic foundation is by visualizing your hips moving forward or into the court. This will cause your knees to bend forward, which puts less strain on the knees. This also reinforces you to move from the hips, which improves the overall foot speed.

pug
10-12-2009, 06:02 PM
Great link for us beginners.

Thank you.

eagle
10-12-2009, 06:15 PM
Always a good vid from Pat.

Just wondering though. You know what they say, those who can't ... teach.

So, do you guys think he can play... practice what he preaches?

r,
eagle

wyutani
10-12-2009, 06:15 PM
i will do it.

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-12-2009, 09:14 PM
Always a good vid from Pat.

Just wondering though. You know what they say, those who can't ... teach.

So, do you guys think he can play... practice what he preaches?

r,
eagle

I think he might injure his back. XP Haha. Just kidding.

Maybe back in his prime. Don't know if those knees, hips, and back can take any load at all... He probably could, but he'd rather teach. He is pretty damn good at coaching.

TonLars
10-12-2009, 11:29 PM
He isnt saying immediately cross over, he is saying the inside leg is the last to leave that small space frame. The inside step first is correct but it is a very small step immediately followed by a larger crossover step. The inside leg is the driving force for the first step, not the crossover leg. In the first example, the student stepped with the small step with his outside leg first and then led with a big inside lateral step, which is slower.

Solat
10-12-2009, 11:59 PM
i found this really interesting to the point where i had to go out on court to try it...

I have previously seen a video about the "power step" which is taking the first step on the outside foot, then i have seen video on the "gravity step" which seems to be the same as this idea.

I tried it out and it seems pretty natural to do on the FH side but on the BH for relatively easy balls i far preferred to move my outside foot across first. I can see however that for a wider ball you would need this footwork.

So maybe this footwork is only relevant to needing to move for distance?

smoothtennis
10-13-2009, 08:17 AM
I looked very carefully at this one. It appears to me, that the kid was using a drop step, followed by a crossover, which leaves his right foot last in the frame.

So he turns his right foot like a step out, but rather than actually stepping out with the right foot, he 'drops' it back, causing him to 'fall' to the right, and his left foot then crosses over very quickly.

It's weird, but I use the drop step when I step to the left with my backhand, and the pure step out when I move the right to my forehand.

The most important thing I believe is the athletic stance, and the check step.

chico9166
10-13-2009, 08:57 AM
Yeah, I'm not sure what correlation he's trying to make. The guy is great. Really like his serve instruction, but one always wants to have a good athletic foundation, with wide base and lower hips, regardless of which footwork pattern one incorporates.

The kid is simply using two different footwork patterns, as he moves out of the screen. In the first, a step out, (or perhaps a little jab step, hard to tell) and in the second, a gravity step, which is certainly preferred when covering greater distances. Just not sure what his point is. The same scenerio would occur even if he wasn't in an ideal athletic position. Am I missing something?

ahile02
10-13-2009, 01:53 PM
For the forehand, I thought the outside foot (right foot for righties) was the first thing to "leave the frame", so to speak in order to establish proper kinetic chain linkeage? That might be what you guys are talking about when you refer to inside foot. I might be misunderstanding something. Happens alot!

callen3615
10-14-2009, 05:11 AM
I think its interesting. Im not sure it would make THAT much of a difference at my level. I think from the 3.0 to the 4.0 level it really doesnt matter if you split step EVERY time. I think if your athletic it wont make a difference.

eagle
10-14-2009, 05:55 AM
Calling Footwork analysts....

Which techniques do the following movers use? Fed, Nadal, and Hewitt.

r,
eagle

smoothtennis
10-14-2009, 07:33 AM
The top pro's use many different methods depending on the situation. The 'gravity' or 'drop' step is used, as well as the 'step out' or leading with the leg on the side of the ball.

The kid in the video first used the step out, then used the gravity step. The problem with the video is that it correlates his right foot leaving the frame last due to a proper lower athletic stance and check step. The real reason his right foot left the frame last was because he employed a gravity step.

Of course I think the guy on the video knows this, but doesn't wasn to lose his audience most likely made up of low level rec players.

ahile02
10-14-2009, 03:22 PM
What situation is the gravity step ideal to use in?

xFullCourtTenniSx
10-14-2009, 03:55 PM
I think its interesting. Im not sure it would make THAT much of a difference at my level. I think from the 3.0 to the 4.0 level it really doesnt matter if you split step EVERY time. I think if your athletic it wont make a difference.

It ALWAYS makes a difference.

You ALWAYS want to get to a ball as quickly as possible so you can hit the best shot you can hit. The more time you have to hit the ball, the better your preparation and the bigger the swing you can take. Also, chances are you're closer to the baseline (or the net) and you can be much more aggressive with the shot.

If you implement this, I'm sure you won't be a 3.0 for that much longer.

You ALWAYS want to split step every time. Every step matters.

But granted, it is far more important at the higher levels of the game where you can easily be 1 or 2 steps short in getting to a shot and you end up losing the point. Even more important when every down the line shot can be a winner if you don't split step and anticipate it.

And I don't care if you're an athlete, you won't survive upper intermediate tennis without a split step. But if they really are athletes, I'm sure they'll learn and successfully employ (if not master) the split step in 2 minutes tops even if they're brain-dead. :shock:

tricky
10-14-2009, 06:30 PM
What situation is the gravity step ideal to use in?

Some people nowadays default to the gravity step, because they have to cover baseline-to-baseline. It's what you use when you gotta cover a lot of ground. Because it uses your center of gravity, you get a lot of foot speed without "jog" to the point you need to be.

With you, I mentioned about stepping out with the outside foot and moving into court. When you're moving away from court, you're often going to execute a gravity step.

ahile02
10-14-2009, 07:57 PM
From what the vid shows, a gravity step is virtually about moving the inside (left leg for righties) leg first to the ball, instead of the outside (right) foot?

Where's a good resource to find all the various steps and footwork descriptions and whatnot ?

tricky
10-14-2009, 10:21 PM
From what the vid shows, a gravity step is virtually about moving the inside (left leg for righties) leg first to the ball, instead of the outside (right) foot?

Yes, but there's an important distinction. The intent is to move away from the court, or from the direction of the ball.

The weight is first shifted onto the right foot due to your center of gravity moving back (i.e. "your body dropping or falling back") and your right foot acting as a counterbalance. At some point, your momentum is such that it leads to the left foot to move and crossover. At the end of the drop step, the right foot is reset, and you can continue using that momentum to move. That drop step will automatically transition you into the unit turn as well. So instead of having to explictly step out with the outside foot, you can also drop step into it. During the drop step, your torso does turn a little more, but it should not really be perpendicular to the net/path of incoming ball.

It's easier to get the feel of the gravity step once you're already comfortable stepping into the court with the outside foot. That is, you've geared into your head to follow the ball with the outside foot. When you move into court, you step out with that foot. When you move away from court, you shift weight onto the outside foot and let the inside foot move (i.e. gravity step) and cross over. Even then, you're still following the ball with the outside foot.