Is my split n hop illegal?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by winstonlim8, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    I recently learned to do a sort of Edberg-style split step and bounces or hops when receiving serve. I have far less active movement than Edberg so I know my way is not illegal when it's just me returning serve in Singles BUT is it also legal to do a split step and bouncy/hoppy routine during Doubles when my partner is receiving and I am at the net?

    I find it very helpful to do that as I'm poaching more efficiently and effectively when I do it.

    But could I be accused of attempting to distract my opponent?

    Just for the record, I don't yell or wave my racquet about when I do my split n lil bouncy routine.
     
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  2. TCF

    TCF Hall of Fame

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    Don't sweat it. Do your thing, if some rare opponent mentions it then maybe chill a little just for that match. Its rec tennis, enjoy and have fun without worrying about little stuff like that.
     
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  3. North

    North Professional

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    It's fine as long as you are not routinely stamping your feet just as the server is about to strike the ball, or something of that sort.
     
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  4. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    If you're doing it to be ready for the shot it's not illegal. If you're doing to distract your opponent then it is illegal.
     
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  5. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Thanks, guys.

    No, I don't stamp my feet or make any noise. It's more like a series of 2 or 3 little bounces on the balls of my feet after my split step.

    I'm not bouncing side to side either. Just a quick bobbing motion.
     
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  6. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    After the split step? You shouldn't be split stepping until your opponent makes contact.

    Out of countless matches, I've only once asked opponent to stop moving while I serve. This opponent would stand two feet behind the baseline and when I just began to start my motion... would walk four or five feet forward... or five feet to the left/right.

    He swore he wasn't trying to distract me, but it really didn't matter. I felt he was. I'm not a big fan of returners who do lots of distracting bouncing. It is a completely unnecessary mechanical ritual... a bad habit.
     
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  7. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    And is that illegal?
     
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  8. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    mightyrick would not get a relief there was an ump for that match. Moving before the serve to get yourself in position is perfectly legal. You are allowed to disguise your starting position so that you can bait your opponent into hitting where you want them to. That is not a motion strictly for distraction, it serves real purpose and is allowed.
     
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  9. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    I don't see how...because if they are in their service motion I don't see how they would see you hopping around and hitting the serve at the same time. :)

    chatt_town


     
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  10. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

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    Yes. Once the ball is tossed you can do whatever you want as long as you are not making some loud noises.
     
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  11. srimes

    srimes New User

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    You should get over it. Nothing wrong or illegal about that. I wouldn't stop if you asked me.

    I find it helpful to be moving forward during the return when I want to be aggressive.
     
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  12. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Sorry, Rick, but I think the others are right. And not because I split step and hop, either (I've looked it up on Youtube videos and plenty of pros do it, too. Stefan Edberg was mentioned only because his is the most obvious...and I'm a big fan of his.)

    My original post was about whether it was legal for me to do a little splitty bouncy in Doubles when my partner is receiving and I'm closer to the net because I know that what I do is legal in Singles when I'm receiving serve.

    Let me clarify a little more what I actually do.

    1.I time it so that my opponent is actually looking at the ball after he's tossed it up so that I'm not distracting his eye as he's preparing to serve.

    2.I don't do it all the time - once I've found his return preferences and the range of his returns, instead of just splitting and bouncing I prefer to take quick little steps forward so that I can actually react more quickly whichever direction he chooses to go.

    When playing Doubles, not being static at the net means I can also either avoid a hard drive hit directly at me (I usually end up partnering either a lady or a lot of self-rated 4.5 players with interesting serves and pittypatty drives) - or I can start moving to poach or play an overhead much more quickly and efficiently.


    PS
    I like watching Men's Doubles on tv because of the sheer variety of strategies the top men use but I am absolutely NOT a fan when it comes to playing it since most of the players at my club prefer to stay back exchanging moonballs (to keep the ball away from me, I guess) until someone makes a mistake.
     
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  13. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    When it comes to Singles, being on the move means, like Srimes, I can attack more quickly against serve.

    Against a good hard serve, I can get into position more quickly to chip the return back deep with more underspin for control.

    Against a dinky, I have the option to -
    1.play a controlled half-volley with either topspin or slice deep or at an angle.
    2.dropshot.
    3.play a topspin lob.
    4.slice a low mid-court skidder that dies around my opponent's ankles (very useful against W or SW grip users and 2H backhands).

    Most importantly, it means I am much closer to the net than my opponent!

    But I have also found that waiting in different positions before my opponent even throws up the ball often distracts his sense of perspective and pressures him much more. I guess it's because he's forced to second guess me if he can.

    He can try serving directly into my body to jam me up, of course, but if he doesn't know where my body will be when his serve crosses the net, that's very hard to do.
     
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  14. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    So you never bounce the ball or anything before serving, or shadow swing between points after missing a big forehand? Tennis is full of 'unnecessary mechanical rituals' as they help calm you down and concentrate.

    Anyway, bouncing before the opponent serves isn't unnecessary, it gets the blood flowing to the muscles so that you can react explosively. Those little bounces, or steps, let you get into a rhythm so that you can split step at the right point - with your weight moving forward.

    As long as the opponent isn't making excessive noise, dancing a jig or swinging his arms around to catch your attention, he probably isn't trying to distract you and is just going through his return preparation. This includes players at the net, however the rules can be a bit stricter with net players.

    ASIDE: If you tried telling me to stop split stepping I might assume you were trying to get inside my head, and depending on how annoyed I was it might make me actually start playing mental games. Initially I'd probably just exaggerate my return movement slightly, but mental games usually escalate. Depending on how annoyed I got any of the following could happen: taking slightly too long to walk to get to the return position; to bouncing the ball excessively on serve on certain points while serving without bouncing the ball on others, grunting on shots (including drop shots), celebrating loudly on every winner, or the most annoying: serving with only one ball so that you have to walk to get another for the second serve EVERY TIME. It's very rare that I do any of these intentionally, and some are only plans of last resort, however I feel that if someone is obviously trying to intentionally get inside your head then mental games in return are fine. Thoguh some times you have to be careful not to mistake an opponents bad habits for intentional mind games.
     
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  15. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I was only saying to not split step until the server has hit the ball (or milliseconds before) because that is the proper time to do it. The same during a rally.

    Don't be so defensive. :)

    BTW: I split step on the return, also.
     
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  16. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    What you do sounds fine.

    Like I said before, out of countless matches, I've only called a returner out once. That particular opponent would literally start WALKING around the box in constant motion the second I looked across the court before I tossed. We're not talking some minor bouncing or a couple of small shuffle steps.

    We're talking three feet behind the baseline and then walking all the way up to the service line.

    The reality is, I didn't know if the opponent was ready or not. Every time he did it... it felt to me like he was resetting his return position. To me, that is a complete hindrance.

    So every time he started his move, I would reset my serve and ask him if he was ready. He'd say, "Oh yeah, that's just what I do." I told him that was distracting me because I don't serve unless I'm sure the opponent was ready. After that he stopped doing it and it was fine.

    Again, that was only once -- ever.
     
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  17. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    If someone asked me to alter my return routine I would kindly ask that they stop hitting first serves. Ridiculous.
     
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  18. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Actually, I can see what Rick meant. I'd find that a bit irritating, too.

    And GoudX, I must certainly keep your handy hints in mind when I play people who try their head games on me.

    Actually, everything being said and done, I think everyone's made their point and explained exactly what they do quite fairly and I'm glad that my little splitty bouncies isn't actually illegal. It's helped me get my weight off my you-know-where so much better and I'd be sad to have to give it up because then I'd be back to being flat footed again.

    The curious thing is ever since I started staying closer to receive serve and doing the splitty bounce thing, I haven't been aced once. Even when the ball hit a line and skidded, I was still able to get my racquet to it (didn't manage to get it back, though.) Before that, whenever my blood sugar was running low, I'd get aced down the middle every so often.
     
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  19. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    'Illegal' depends on a system of written rules. Look up the rule that best pertains to your issue.

    USTA
    http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/2013_Friend_at_Court.pdf

    ITF
    http://www.itftennis.com/officiating/rulebooks/rules-of-tennis.aspx

    Unfortunately, many hindrance related issues are not covered specifically and that might be where you are. But what clause pertains most to your question and what examples are closest?

    Pro players usually do move forward a step, 3 feet, toward the baseline but they usually do it more during the server's motion. Watch the receiver's forward step and you can see the timing.
    https://vimeo.com/27528896

    Receiver can move at any time and moving from the right to the left as you start your service motion is legal. It's a good move for the receiver to get well over on one side and then move toward the other side just as the serve starts especially if the serve is very strong.

    I once played a mixed doubles match. After the match my partner asked me how much the receiving man's very considerable movement had bothered my serve. I had not noticed it during the match. I often just stop looking at the receiver and especially would do it if they distract me, stand a few feet back from the service line, or change position.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
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  20. MauricioDias

    MauricioDias Rookie

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    Well exposed. Better answares about illegal things involv rules. Best way to get the correct answare.
     
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  21. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    I still don't see hindrance. Walking before the serve is perfectly acceptable and valid.

    Once he told you that he is ready and that move is part of his readiness, that should have been the end of it.
     
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  22. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    It was. If he chose to keep doing it, then I'd just alter my service motion to accommodate his readiness ritual. I'd start the motion... see him walk 10 feet forward... and then catch the toss. Then I'd start my motion again.

    It might be gamesmanship on my part, but to me it is a response to his gamesmanship.

    The tennis rules in these areas are way too vague. It pretty much comes down to the "honor system". In this situation, I felt that the guy was basically using gamesmanship to throw me off rather than trying to merely beat me with his skill.
     
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  23. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    You're gonna get hammered for this one incident, Rick. And that's too bad, because it's probably not indicative of your normal on-court behavior.

    The returner can essentially do any tennis related movement during the service motion. You can hop, step forward, dart to the side, move way forward, move way back, duck real low, stutter step. You cannot do a non-tennis related move, like clicking your racquet on the ground, waiving it in the air like you're signaling a plane, make a verbal call, etc ...

    A good returner will bait and cover certain spots, run around backhand serves, and move way up in anticipation of a pattycake second serve. If my opponent has an awful second serve--which still happens more frequently that I thought it would--I will start in more normal return position, and during the toss move up sometimes as much as six to ten feet.

    What's funny is that if it were me versus you, I would let you catch the toss a couple times and then just ask, "Hey, are you okay? Why are you not serving?"

    "Your return motion is causing me problems."

    "Sorry to hear it, but thanks for revealing that to me. I'm ready when you are."
     
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  24. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    And that'd be fine with me. :)

    I'd use whatever gamesmanship that was necessary to throw you off and/or get the result that I wanted.

    Gotta love tennis.
     
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  25. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Le's not gang up on Rick, guys. I can understand where he's coming from. It's extremely irritating to me, too, to be ready to serve and then find that the receiver is doing something that looks like he's not ready and then have him tell you that he's actually ready and waiting for you to serve.

    There was a gentleman I used to play with who'd stand and play with his racquet strings or chat with other people on the sidelines while waiting to receive serve. Even after the other people on the court called out to him, he'd just ignore everybody and everything and go on doing exactly what he did. The first couple of times I'd wait for him to look up before I served and then he'd accuse me of wasting time. So the last time I played him, I just looked to make sure that he was standing in the court and then I'd serve. And then walk to the other side of the court and ignore any of his protests about not being ready.

    I was sorely tempted to put the ball 8 inches below his gut when his partner was receiving but I wasn't quite that mad yet. Besides he was also 70+ and played everything with a weird kind of western grip (just his thumb and two middle fingers on the racquet handle). I didn't want to accidentally put the ball where it would have done some real damage.

    Needless to say, I refuse to step on the court with him now.

    So, yes, I can understand Rick's being ticked off by someone whose ROS routine involved a walkabout instead of moving in or forward. In his case, once the nutcase had confirmed that doing such things indicated that he was ready to receive my serve, I'd have simply timed it so that I struck the ball just as he was in the middle of his walkabaout and caught him flatfooted and out of position every time. And then ignored any protests about not being ready since he'd already said that doing stupid things like that was part of his "getting ready ritual".

    And then if things got really nasty, I'd have dropshotted like crazy so that he'd be running up and exposed to either a flat drive or topspin drive-volley right between his legs. I wouldn't aim for his face. It's harder for me to hit a small object above my waist with a tennis ball. And besides, he might duck!
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
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  26. srimes

    srimes New User

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    So are tennis players more likely to be ocd, or is it just this board? :p
     
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  27. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    You ain't seen nothing yet! :)
     
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  28. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    I don't faults him for being irritated, I fault him for calling hindrance. Just because you are irritated, does not mean you can call hindrance. If it is a valid tennis move, no matter how annoying, it is allowed.
     
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  29. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    The beauty of those tips is that you aren't really breaking any rules, you're just getting into the opponents head by making them play the way you want to play (like Rafa does with his going for the towel every point and refusing to get up off the bench first, or Djokovic does with his excessive ball bouncing, grunting and loud celebrations).

    When I used to play doubles with my big serving partner on serve, I would stand on the service line about 2ft from the T, then take a step forward and slightly across as he served, so that I could be moving forward and time a deep split step with the opponents' contact - as this placed me in a position where I could spring forward to cover any point on the net (other than wide well placed cross court returns, or perfect DTL winners), to get the easy volley put away. If memory serves correct this is what the Bryan brothers often do.
     
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  30. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    Funny I never bothered much about head games when I was younger - even when they got to me badly - but now that I'm older, I find such things get under my skin easily. Or maybe it's just that I've learnt to spot them earlier and more easily now.

    So now that makes me wonder if we're all just nice people who become completely OCD when it comes to tennis. :)
     
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  31. Dark_Angel85

    Dark_Angel85 Rookie

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    Interesting arguments here and I would just like to point out that if an umpire was there, he'd have solved it because he would be deciding if it was hindrance. However, there are many a times in tournaments where umpires aren't provided... what more if it was a rec game.

    Cause you can't just say that it irritates you and thus that's hindrance. It has to be something specific written in the books that it is a hindrance i.e. making a noise while the player is about to hit the ball or like what Kirilenko did with the racquet tapping on the ground so many times before her opponent hit the shot... but I digress...

    Hindrance in this case mentioned by the OP whether it be singles or doubles is completely legal. I would even go to the extent of saying that if you find it as a hindrance and distraction and you take your time to call it out during a game, you are indeed causing unnecessary delay to the game. However, if a receiver does not get ready by the time the server is about to serve within a reasonable amount of time (especially in cases where you have to pick the ball or there is something outside of the players control that causes delay)... that receiver is not causing hindrance, but just delay of play.

    I mean, we don't have to really get into too much detail about whether or not a receiver can/cannot move/split/hop/walk/change positions/place their racquet to the side/look somewhere else when receiving AND mentions that he/she is ready to receive. Cause there is no problem IF the receiver is already ready to receive (in whatever position he/she decides to stand initially up to the point of you beginning your service motion... even before that cause there really is no barring on whether or not the receiver can/cannot move when the server is serving) However... many a times, receivers who SEEM not ready, like to claim they weren't ready after the opponent hits a good serve... that's the one that might irritate you IF after a few times of serving, he keeps saying he ain't ready even when he was ready to serve but moved during your serve. Most of the time... it's the fact that receivers are causing delays and AREN'T ready to receive even after the server has been ready to serve for quite a while...

    Scenarios like these are common..

    You served a great one and he said he was not ready...

    you could say "I thought you were ready"

    "I wasn't ready, I was still moving into position"

    next time you wait till he is in ready position, serve, he moves and says he's not ready

    "OK, but I saw you were in ready position already"

    "No, I'm not ready yet... blah blah" ad infinitum <--- even though the movement was clearly AFTER he was in ready position

    ... I think you get the picture... now THAT can be called DELAY or just plain bad sportsmanship.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
    #31
  32. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    why would you split step as the server serves? you don't need to be ready for the serve but the moment when the return crosses the net (in case the net player intercepts).
     
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  33. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    Even if your partner is returning, you'll need to move quickly to cover the angles as soon as you know where the serve and return are going. That said, I wouldn't usually bother a full split step at that point, I'd just bounce slightly, and maybe take a step forward.
     
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  34. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    I agree. My split step and hop is to get my body in motion so that it's quicker and easier to move forward and take the return on the rise once I know the direction of the ball.

    If I waited for the server to strike the ball first, I'd be caught either mid-split, mid-hop or just trying to recover my balance after split-stepping or hopping and my weight would be either planted dead on both feet or off-balance.

    The idea of having your weight and balance moving and along the direction of the strike to increase power is one I picked up from the martial arts.
     
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