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timpap
09-15-2011, 12:32 AM
Hello im a new guy in here, this is probably my 3-4 post and i just want to ask a few questions about footwork. I hear guys say "Roger Federer has the best footwork ever". So, what exactly is footwork in tennis, what are the basics of it and how to improve it? I play tennis for a while and i guess im a 3.5 NTPR. At the moment im still trying to find my strokes and i stuggle with consistency especially on my forehand( my 2HB is more solid) and ive been thinking i should improve my footwork too since i really dont know how to move in the court. So, any opinions?

SystemicAnomaly
09-15-2011, 04:51 AM
Welcome to these forums. You've heard right -- footwork is of paramount importance and Roger Federer incorporates some of the best, most efficient footwork in the modern game. Good footwork should contain the following elements:

- Ready Position
- Split-step
- the Step Out
- movement to the ball
- optimal hitting stances
- recovery steps (to an optimal position)

The Ready Position can also include swaying and "ready steps" prior to the split-step. The split-step is a timing hop that is initiated on the forward (or upward) swing of your opponent's racket. If you time the hop properly, you should be landing just as the ball has left your opponent's racket. This hop should sync you up to your opponent's shot and allow you to move more quickly in any direction immediately after landing.

The first step after the split step is usually taken with the foot closest to the direction that you will need to move to intercept the incoming ball. This step, know as the Step Out, should be part of your unit. Movement to the ball will usually involve large walking or running (sprint) steps toward the ball and smaller adjustment steps as you get closer to an optimal hitting position.

Optimal hitting stances will allow quicker, more efficient recovery times. This will include neutral, semi-open and open stances. Closed stances should not be the norm for FHs and 2-handed BHs. However, they are fine for 1-handed BHs.

The basic recovery step is a side shuffle. If you need to recover from a very wide shot, you might incorporate a couple of sprint steps followed by the side steps (shuffle). This side shuffle should allow your to recover toward some optimal position and should also allow you to incorporate another split-step and your opponent is about to make contact with the ball.

The optimal recovery position will usually not be the middle of the baseline unless your own shot is moving toward the middle of your opponent's court. If you hit a cross-court shot, you should not recover all the way to the middle. Take a look at this video to see what I mean:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVwPRKh1Mdk
.

SystemicAnomaly
09-15-2011, 05:05 AM
For more about basic (and advanced) footwork patterns, take a look at at the Fuzzy Yellow Balls site, the Operation Doubles archive pages and the Footwork link in the Lesson Lounge at Tennis 4 You (.com). Note: you need to leave out the spaces when typing the URL for Tennis 4 You.

http://www.fuzzyyellowballs.com/video-tennis-lessons/footwork
(http://www.fuzzyyellowballs.com/video-tennis-lessons/footwork/)
Operation Doubles Footwork Guide (http://web.archive.org/web/20090201070927/http://www.operationdoubles.com/footwork_positioning_tennis.htm)

Footwork in the Tennis Playing Cycle (OD) (http://web.archive.org/web/20081224103238/http://www.operationdoubles.com/footwork_tennis_playing_cycle.htm)

timpap
09-15-2011, 07:01 AM
Wow, didnt expect this comin! Thank you for such a post! From what i read in your post i have a simple question: Can proper footwork be learned or it is achieved only by experience?
Footwork is based on these qualities: 1) saving energy through the combination of the most effective and least walking moves around the court, fast recovery and reaching the ball fast.
So, if you play a lot of years then i guess it comes naturally to find a way to do all those things or else you get tired esaily or crushed by opponents. I find myself doing the side shuffle but without being taught by anyone, or even the split step, not every single time the opponent hits the ball maybe, but at least when i receive a second serve. But still, i look like a goofy around the court, i cant get a good position for my strokes, my balance is sometimes off, half of the times i cant even judge where the ball will land and i lose points from unintentional "dropshots" of the opponent, strokes that where meant to go deep in the baseline!
What i want is to eliminate the goofiness on the court and look more fluid and graceful when playing. :P Will this be achieved by modern footwork and if yes what kind of exercises should i do??

Thanks in advace,
Tim.

Limpinhitter
09-15-2011, 07:11 AM
Wow, didnt expect this comin! Thank you for such a post! From what i read in your post i have a simple question: Can proper footwork be learned or it is achieved only by experience?

* * *

Both! Learning to play tennis is like learning to play a musical instrument. The more you practice, and the more playing experience you have, the better a player you will be.

EP1998
09-15-2011, 02:25 PM
Everyone has to train for footwork, it is not really a natural thing. Google Jez Green and David Bailey and you will get a lot of good drills.

timpap
09-16-2011, 12:31 AM
Everyone has to train for footwork, it is not really a natural thing. Google Jez Green and David Bailey and you will get a lot of good drills.

thanks! And how many times a week should i perform these exercises ?

christinamaniac7
09-16-2011, 05:51 AM
You can do them any second you get the time... I dedicate almost 30 minutes of my daily time to practicing footwork!! that's been much more impressive during the last 5 weeks or so and I've improved my FW by miles of distance!!

blakesq
09-16-2011, 06:08 AM
To me, as a 46 year old 4.0 player, footwork is about taking small steps as i am setting up to hit a ball, constantly moving my feet so I am perfectly lined up to hit the ball. When I am tired and/or lazy, I do not do proper footwork, and instead of taking little steps, I might take on or two big steps and try to reach for the ball, or more often, hit the ball when it is too close to my body, screwing up my form, and loosing lots of power.

on the other hand, if have proper footwork, that is taking lots of small steps, the ball rarely gets too close to me, and I have good powerful ground stroke because my arm is nicely extended (not bent and contorted to hit a ball thats too close to my body). Hope this helps.

Hello im a new guy in here, this is probably my 3-4 post and i just want to ask a few questions about footwork. I hear guys say "Roger Federer has the best footwork ever". So, what exactly is footwork in tennis, what are the basics of it and how to improve it? I play tennis for a while and i guess im a 3.5 NTPR. At the moment im still trying to find my strokes and i stuggle with consistency especially on my forehand( my 2HB is more solid) and ive been thinking i should improve my footwork too since i really dont know how to move in the court. So, any opinions?

fuzz nation
09-16-2011, 06:26 AM
How 'bout: Good footwork is learned through experience.

Learning to play tennis in general is about learning dozens of individual habits that you can put to work to keep a ball in play on the courts. Once you practice them enough that you can repeat those actions without thinking about them, you're ready to put those tools to use in competition where you're more actively focusing on the ball and your opponent, not so much yourself.

When you're on the practice courts, it's invaluable to work on bursting toward the ball from out of your split-step, even when having a casual hit. Yes, this includes getting every ball on one bounce. If you can't, gather up the ball and restart the rally. That deliberate split-step and quick "unit turn" with a strong first step toward your hitting zone is the footwork habit that will give you more time to set up sooner for your shot.

You can never arrive and set up at your hitting zone too early. Learn to rush both your "first move" and setup, and you'll be able to take an un-rushed swing at the ball much more often.

timpap
09-16-2011, 12:01 PM
When you're on the practice courts, it's invaluable to work on bursting toward the ball from out of your split-step, even when having a casual hit. Yes, this includes getting every ball on one bounce. If you can't, gather up the ball and restart the rally. That deliberate split-step and quick "unit turn" with a strong first step toward your hitting zone is the footwork habit that will give you more time to set up sooner for your shot.

You can never arrive and set up at your hitting zone too early. Learn to rush both your "first move" and setup, and you'll be able to take an un-rushed swing at the ball much more often.

so what you are saying is after the split step i should run towards the ball as fast as i can to be there in time or on time? Both are good but better in time?

SystemicAnomaly
09-16-2011, 12:30 PM
so what you are saying is after the split step i should run towards the ball as fast as i can to be there in time or on time? Both are good but better in time?

No, you do not always need to run as fast as you can. If you don't have very far to move, you can walk or glide to the ball and still be early. It's fine to work on explosive movement, but you do not need to sprint to every ball.

timpap
09-16-2011, 12:39 PM
Ok. I started using the split step these days and i noticed it gives my playing rhythm. Maybe a bit of explosiveness too but im not so sure about that. Split step is just a hop right? Should i move forward while split stepping or land at the same position i jumped from? I also used the shuffle step to recover and it is really good too. Now i have a hard time with balls that land short and balls that are away from me. Maybe i should work a lot more on bursting and running towards the ball.

fireice
09-16-2011, 12:48 PM
Ok. I started using the split step these days and i noticed it gives my playing rhythm. Maybe a bit of explosiveness too but im not so sure about that. Split step is just a hop right?

In a sense, yes (not really in a sense, it is)...but don't let yourself become a rabbit on the court...

Should i move forward while split stepping or land at the same position i jumped from?

I tend to move forward a bit when I split step if it's your Average Joe shot coming back at you to give myself a bit of forward momentum, though I'm one who's looking to come in when I get the chance...if staying back at the baseline is more comfortable for you...well, you'll get a feel of what works and what doesn't for you, probably subconsciously. Obviously, if it's not your Average Joe shot, adjust your split; see if you can't give yourself the tiniest of advantages in getting to the ball in time to hit an optimum shot.

In addition, see if taking a crossover step if you're confident your opponent is going to the open court when you're pulled wide before starting to run towards the ball makes a difference in getting there quickly (the latter being after you've taken a shuffle or two, before you know your opponent is going there).

EDIT: Now i have a hard time with balls that land short and balls that are away from me. Maybe i should work a lot more on bursting and running towards the ball.

Don't shuffle while running to the ball to hit it. Shuffle while recovering from hitting the ball.