Split Step on Short Balls

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by brad1730, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. brad1730

    brad1730 Rookie

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    I've switch to a western grip and have been taking a lot of points from the baseline lately (good news). My opponents have been hitting short balls - either as a weak return, or to try to bring me to the net. I run up to meet the ball and seem to flub it because I overrun the ball or just don't have the skill to hit it on the run. I can't make myself split step before the shot. I tell myself that I don't have the time. How do you handle this?
     
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  2. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Two things come to mind. One is that if you time to just gather yourself a bit, not a full stop or split step, but find that moment of calm balance; sort of a moment of float. At this point, if you can focus on your hand/eye ability, opposed to focus on hand/eye/feet, you may find you can execute this shot more consistently.

    The second is if you can move just to the side as you hit, helping you to hit up and across the ball, this can aid control as well. These are 2 things that I learned to focus on recently and it has really improved things in this area. Before I was more traditional in stepping forward and hitting out thru the ball. It worked ok much of the time, but to get control, power was often sacrificed.
     
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  3. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    first you dont split step before you hit the shot!!!!!!!!!!!!! you spilt step when your opponent hits the ball. on a ball you are coming foward to hit you need to time your footwork to the ball with your swing. so that your are hitting under control and not runnung thru the shot.
     
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  4. mike53

    mike53 Professional

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    There is always more time than you think, usually a lot more, especially if you are overrunning. Do you have a mental image of exactly where you want to have contact with the ball before you start running for it? Are you intending to slice these balls or are you trying to hit them with a topspin drive?
     
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  5. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    if you overrun the shot, you got there in plenty of time.if you need to practice approach shots ( this is the type of shot you are atttempting) to learn the skill of hitting a ball while transitioning foward then find someone or take a leeson to practice. i found that when i stopped going for winners in the situations you described but instead tried to hit a forcing shot and plan to finish with the volley or overhead i "overhit" the ball much less and seemed to hit the ball with better controlled aggression. i slow down as i get close and then try to smoothly hit a quality shot.
     
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  6. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You guys are right about over running the shot, but I think his meaning is different. I think he may mean having to run so hard to get there, that he has no time to adjust upon arrival.
    Of course I could be wrong here, but if not, he probably needs to slice if this late to the ball. With a slice you should move thru the shot.

    And if you mean what they were saying, you have plenty of time to be on balance for your shot.
     
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  7. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    if you are barely getting to a ball like with a well executed drop shot or a weak return you dont expect so you are on your heels and reacting slowly to get to it then yes you have no time to properly set up and hit it. it takes experience to hit those balls and still control them. i guess the op- needs to clarify the situation
     
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  8. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    Practice.
    Hit slow, deep balls to a friend and approach the net. Commence your split step as he draws his racquet back. Have your friend NOT swing his racquet forward. It will be obvious whether or not you went into the split step or kept moving towards the net. Increase the pace of the shots as you become more successful.
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'm with L10's, don't bother to split step if you know the ball is short and you gotta run up forwards to get to it.
    But consider..... CLOSE your stance to fetch those low balls, hit outside of the ball with full swing. Eyes on ball, heavy top/side spin. Have feet spread on closed stance to give you longer strike zone.
    Or... switch to conti grip and stroll in to push that ball deep into the open court.
     
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  10. mike53

    mike53 Professional

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    Indeed. If the op is scraping his racquet on the court trying to scoop out a ball that is 2 inches away from the second bounce, how would he be over running it?
     
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  11. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    often newer players terminology is developing.

    how could he be over running it if he is late?

    works both ways.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2009
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  12. mike53

    mike53 Professional

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    Good question. He doesn't say he was late, so we might think he has more than enough time to split step and forward bound into position to get a good hit. Just wondering what shot he's trying that gets flubbed.
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'd assume he's flubbing the short low ball when he's back at the baseline, needs to come forwards with his WESTERN grip to hit a forcing shot.
     
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  14. brad1730

    brad1730 Rookie

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    Wow - thanks for all of the replies. I've had problems with 2 scenario's - both discussed here. 1) I'm behind the baseline & hit a great forehand which elicits a weak return. I have to run to the ball (but admit that I probably have more time than I think) and I don't slow down enough to properly place the ball. 2) I'm in front of the baseline, and my opponent hits an angle or short topspin shot that I barely have time to get to. I try to hit a running forehand or slice.

    I like 5263's idea of "moment of float" and hitting to the side, and I will try to use caution (as Larry10s suggests) and LeeD's idea of a continental grip/push deep into the court.

    Practicing this shot is tough. I have a ball machine. Maybe I need to set it short, and try to run into these balls?

    Thanks again everyone. This has been a goldmine of advice.
     
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