had a footwork revelation today

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by spacediver, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    Was playing today, and for some reason, ended up dancing on the balls of my feet continuously. Part of this may be due to me reading so many threads where people talk about constantly being light on the feet and moving on the balls of the feet.

    Well I stumbled upon this today for the first time and it changed EVERYTHING.

    It wasn't just mindless bobbing on the balls of the feet - it was well tuned movement, and once I was in the rhythm, everything came naturally. I didn't even have to think about split stepping - my body would automatically do it, and just glide to the ball, and then recover.

    During my ladder match today (I played the guy on the top of the 4.0+ ladder and lost 8-5, which is the best I've done against him ever), I was engaging in rallies that I could only dream of before. Effortless, efficient, and balanced movement that left me in a very strong position to hit with pace, spin, and my choice of target. I remember being stunned at the rallies we were having, WHILE we were having them.

    I also felt like I could maintain this for a long time - for whatever reason, this mode of movement kept my body constantly warm and primed, kinda like when you're biking or jogging and you experience that steady state of equilibrium.

    Was absolutely wonderful, and I'm looking forward to exploring it!
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
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  2. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Congratulations on achieving a higher level of tennis by far! But I warn you, you will now be more addicted to tennis than ever.
     
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  3. strontor

    strontor New User

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    Nice I also felt the same recently, movement in tennis is the most important part of my game now
     
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  4. Netspirit

    Netspirit Hall of Fame

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    spacediver, do you remember what you did differently?

    Did you try to stay lower and keep your upper body straight, allowing the feet to "grab the air"?

    Or was it something else?
     
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  5. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure what I did differently with respect to the alignment of my torso hips and legs, but what I used to do was stand almost completely still and then consciously and artificially split step, run to the ball, hit it, recover, then go back to the stand still.

    This time I felt like I was floating, and once I was in rhythm my footwork was more on autopilot.

    This may just be a culmination of learning experience, rather than me doing something differently; it's hard to tell.

    If you are looking to replicate this, perhaps just see what happens when you're always moving on the balls of your feet. I mean during a point, NEVER be still.

    I played close to 3 hours of tennis today and my body doesn't even feel sore.
     
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  6. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

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    Spacediver,
    That's awesome! Congratulation. Having a watershed experience of moving considerably better than ever before I was a couple of weeks ago; it was pure elation.
    Say, when you were covering the court so fluidly today, were you conscious of taking short choppy steps?
     
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  7. GetBetterer

    GetBetterer Hall of Fame

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    This is called Self 2 taking over. Well done. The auto split-step thing is usually just from constant practice too.
     
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  8. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    Yep, I believe the stride length was quite short. It wasn't something I was consciously intending to do tho.
     
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  9. masterxfob

    masterxfob Semi-Pro

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    it's no secret, in tennis, with light feet comes success , while with heavy feet comes disaster.
     
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  10. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    your stroke timing was probably way better too. The footwork is the secret to about everything.
     
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  11. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    Well I played for about four straight hours today, and this was not a one time thing. I feel as if I own this new footwork foundation, and I cannot wait to explore it more. I feel as if I've discovered a whole new dimension of tennis to experiment in and develop in.

    I've noticed something interesting. I feel that if I were to stand still, and then split step at the right moment, it would not be as effective as if I had been doing the constant dance, and I have a hypothesis about why this may be.

    Moving on the feet in constant fashion means that you are receving high quality feedback about the relationship between motor output and position and feel on the court. You are essentially fully tuned into the interplay between proprioception, kinesthesia, vestibulation (sense of movement through space due to fluid swishing around in inner ear), and visual feedback (how the image on your retina changes as a function of your body's position through space).

    As a result, when you make your first movement in reaction to the anticipated hitting position, it is a highly tuned movement facilitated by a highly calibrated system.

    And that first stride is oh so critical. I think the brain plans motor movements in chunks, so it is ready to fire a series of coordinated signals to the body so that it can execute a whole series of movements. If the first step in this orchestrated movement is off, then the rest of the chunk is ill-adapted to achieving the desired goal.

    I believe this may be one of the reasons why Edberg did some dancing before the split step in his serve return. Another reason may have been to deke and feint the server. (I've watched two or three of his matches so far, so not sure if this was a constant throughout his career).
     
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  12. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

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    Only after you encounter that sort of feeling, do you truly understand how important footwork can really be. Don't worry though mate, explore it, improve it, master it and move on to the next level.
     
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  13. bad_call

    bad_call Legend

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    dancing is good...but having trouble with the jitterbug when playing those types that play at that tempo. :mrgreen:
     
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  14. mlktennis

    mlktennis Semi-Pro

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    Congrats...these breakthroughs are the culmination of hard work.

    Now..if you can keep up the dancing feet against the pushers or spin artists whose whole game is trying to throw you off and make you make the mistake, then you are truly onto something.
     
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  15. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Congrats on the insight, as others have pointed out.

    However, it's amazing you made it to 4.0+ level without realizing and practicing decent footwork.

    - - - - -

    I recall my first tennis lesson 4 years ago... my instructor told me - "I don't want to see your feet stop moving the entire duration of the lesson". It felt dumb at first (and he told me it would) and I felt very self-conscious since I really didn't know anything about footwork or understand the importance of good footwork.

    Then, I recall about 2 years into playing when a couple of players who were 3.0-3.5 (about my level at the time) were making fun of my footwork (typical bobbing back and forth) as I was preparing to receive serve. Those guys are still at the same level :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
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  16. jmjmkim

    jmjmkim Semi-Pro

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    that's great. I wish I could feel like that.
     
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  17. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the encourangement.

    Bud, I would classify myself as a strong 3.5; I started up the game properly last august, and still have tonnes of feel to develop. Once I solidify my backhand I would be comfy rating myself as a 4.0.

    I joined in the 4.0+ ladder to challenge myself once I learned to beat the pushers in the 3.5 ladder.

    Am playing a legit 5.5+ player on tuesday and have asked him to go full out on me. Will try to video tape the match :)
     
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  18. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    That should be interesting :)

    Just two things to remember... play percentage tennis and keep moving your feet. I notice when my game starts breaking down it's usually because I'm trying to do too much with my shots (low-percentage plays) or my footwork has deteriorated.

    A legitimate 5.5 player will pretty easily double bagel even a 4.5 player ... so don't get too frustrated.
     
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  19. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    I'm expecting a complete and utter beatdown. He's one of the two very talented hitting pros at our club and charges for an hour's hitting session (both are top 100 mens open in Canada, and one is currently top 30).

    I was explicit when I requested total destruction - I want to see what it's like to deal with a monster.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
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  20. Netspirit

    Netspirit Hall of Fame

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    It should be 0 and 0. I doubt that you can even get your returns in (no offense - I tried to return a couple of former/recent ATP #160 pro's serves - not much luck).

    I wouldn't play high percentage tennis, it is futile. I would try to give him complete junk and get him out of his comfort zone, hoping for netcords and his UEs to earn me at least 1 game.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
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  21. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    I want to give him my best game possible. Would rather not resort to junk. But agreed that it is probably the best strategy for earning a cheap game :)
     
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  22. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    ended up losing 6-2, 6-0. Both games I won were on his serve, but his serve was certainly not his biggest weapon. Was able to give him problems with my serve, but neither of us were playing our best, due to the intense heat and humidity. Am in the process of splicing the footage for some of the more memorable points. Will post them in this thread once done. Footwork was sluggish due to heat exhaustion.
     
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  23. Winky

    Winky Guest

    I've come to the conclusion that when you get to a certain level, it all comes down to footwork.
     
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  24. dantesinferno18

    dantesinferno18 Semi-Pro

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    nice reference to the inner game of tennis
     
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