Stepping forward, then splittng on return of serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Torres, Nov 17, 2013.

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Do you step forward for a return of serve?

  1. Yes, I step forward, then split step for a return of serve

    35 vote(s)
    71.4%
  2. No, I simply split step from my starting position

    12 vote(s)
    24.5%
  3. Other (please explain)

    2 vote(s)
    4.1%
  1. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Just curious as to who else does this.

    Poll is anonymous but feel free to chip on with your views as to whether you think its advantageous or unnecessary etc.
     
    #1
  2. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I will take my step forward with the server's ball toss and then split step at/near the contact. The rhythm of the STEP-SPLIT will vary from one serve to the next. It is not difficult to establish this rhythm for most servers. Murray and Agassi, 2 of the best returners of all time, would take a step forward prior to the split step. Here is an interesting variation:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYepk8QCfwA
     
    #2
  3. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Interesting. A coach actually asked me this evening why I did this - I actually take a step forward with my left foot and then split step.

    Fed doesn't really seem to do it as much - more of a very short hop:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-HOGspAApw
     
    #3
  4. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

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    Step onto dominant leg and then split for me and this is what I teach (or used to when I coached non-disabled athletes)
     
    #4
  5. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Going from memory, I don't think Djokovic does this. I like his way of returning a lot, it's more simple.

    Does the step forward actually help you in any way? I don't see how it would?
     
    #5
  6. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    I voted for the first option. However, I do not do this in order to return inside the baseline, just to have forward momentum.
     
    #6
  7. mightyrick

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    I step forward at least two half-steps and then "sort-of" split step. The only reason I do it is to keep my momentum moving forward and to help me not to get jammed up.
     
    #7
  8. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    I do it because it puts me in a different position to where the server thinks I'm going to be. Also moving forward, gives me a positive mindset on the return.
     
    #8
  9. forthegame

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    I've started doing that since watching Murray on return. I noticed that Djokovic does that too but Murray's stood out for me.

    I guess I should say that I try to...
     
    #9
  10. forthegame

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    BTW, I've always had trouble with my split step on ground strokes. I have this habit of split stepping backwards...

    Topic for another thread perhaps.
     
    #10
  11. BlueB

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    I do both.
     
    #11
  12. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    But then Novak's return stance is insanely wide. Most of us, even in our teens/20s, were never this flexible. The STEP & SPLIT employed by Agassi and Murray are much easier for most players to perform/master. Check out the video link from Jeff Salzenstein on the Agassi implementation.

    Yes, the step forward does help. I already mentioned one way that it helps in post #2 above. It is a timing step that syncs you up top the rhythm of the server. I also gets your moving forward, in to the court, when you perform you split step. This is much better than falling backward after/when you split. Will Hamilton of FYB advocate the preliminary forward step and indicates why it is important.

    http://blip.tv/fuzzy-yellow-balls/tennis-return-of-serve-step-up-and-split-1155197
    http://www.fuzzyyellowballs.com/video-tennis-lessons/return-of-serve/step-up-and-split
     
    #12
  13. spaceman_spiff

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    Same here.

    Most of the time, I start in my preferred position and just do a split-step while leaning forward a bit. But, if my opponent is really trying to jam me a lot, then I'll start from a couple of steps back and move forward during the toss. That usually makes it more difficult to target the body.
     
    #13
  14. MauricioDias

    MauricioDias Rookie

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    +1

    I adapt my strategy in order to better return my opponent serve
     
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  15. Tonyr1967

    Tonyr1967 Rookie

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    I've always returned serve like this.

    One of the strengths of my game - you need to be able to react quickly but it cuts the serve angle and allows you to get the ball back very quickly.

    I always found it hard to switch grips quickly though, so have both hands in an eastern forehand grip (have a 2hbh) and tend to hit very flat returns. Not much swing is required as your body weight and the serve pace gives the return it's speed. If I'm playing well my returns are deep and fast; if I'm playing really well I hit a good few return winners.

    If he server has a good pace on his second serve I will use the same strategy. If not, I normally use the same footwork but less aggressively, so I can take a bigger cut at the ball and try to dictate the point.

    Murray's footwork is the same although he changes the lead foot depending on the side he is returning to. Don't recall Agassi using a noticeable step forward at the start of the return? Anyone have some footage?
     
    #15
  16. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    This depends on the server, and on tactics, for me.

    I will use the step forward on slower serves. I use a more stationary split for high-paced serves. Sometimes I'm covering, or baiting a specific serve, in which case I might even move sideways then split.
     
    #16
  17. Ballinbob

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    I guess I can understand how it gets you into the court more, but I still don't agree that it really helps timing. If you time your split step right before contact without moving forward, that still allows you to time the serve well. The best way to time the serve return is to consistently split step before contact. I think the step forward allows for more to go wrong when returning. What if you step too far or don't step far enough for instance?

    This is all my opinion of course, the step-forward obviously works for many people
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
    #17
  18. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Split step before contact? Can you elaborate?
     
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  19. Topspin Shot

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    It doesn't really matter how far you take that first step before the split. What matters is initiating the jump when the server accelerates his racket from trophy, so you are at the top of the hop when he contacts the ball. Sometimes, taking the first step can help timing because you take that step as the server moves his tossing arm upward to toss the ball. It's not strictly necessary, but it puts you in motion, so you're less likely to be flatfooted when initiating the jump, and it helps you time the server's motion a little better.
     
    #19
  20. Ballinbob

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    Yes, as I was taught, the receiver initiates a split step slightly before the server makes contact with the ball.

    Do you agree with this?
     
    #20
  21. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Correct. You want to be at the top of the hop when the serve contacts the ball.
     
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  22. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Yes, but the way you worded it was ambiguous, so I wanted to make sure.
     
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  23. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Can you guys explain this for me?

    Do you always step forward the same distance? If so, could that put you out of position? I mean, with some serves don't you need to move more forward or backward if you could to be in a desireable position?
     
    #23
  24. rkelley

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    Any reason why you step onto the dominant leg vs non-dominant?
     
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  25. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    You only step forward for returns of serve. So you know ahead of time where you want to be to contact the ball and start a step back from there. Then, you step forward, and you're there.

    You will get a better push off your dominant leg because it's well, dominant.
     
    #25
  26. Rui

    Rui Semi-Pro

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    Since moving backward is not desirable or very easy, start one step behind "back." Then step forward and split.
     
    #26
  27. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Just to clarify something else for you: the theory for the step forward is essentially creating momentum for your return of serve. It's not universally accepted as proper technique. Everyone has a routine that they like. Generally speaking:
    1. Djokovic has a low wide base, then raises up, then splits.
    2. Nadal likes to stutter step rapidly, then splits.
    3. Murray steps forward then splits.
    4. Tomic stands there, uninterested, and then splits.
    5. Rosol dances, and then splits.
    6. And so on ...
    All of them will vary their routines based on their reads or their preselected tactic for the return.


    For me, the forward momentum is not necessary for most returns. It's an extra movement that I would rather do without, but sometimes I still do it (mainly on second serves).
     
    #27
  28. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Dang, you guys are so knowledgeable. I mean it as a compliment. Thanks. That makes sense with starting at a step backward.

    I don't have a particular style. I just stand still and then hop up as opponent contacts the ball as a way to get myself active and time the ball. Perhaps I can turn this to be like Djokovic's. Keep it simple.
     
    #28
  29. Fintft

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    Thanks, I'll work on that myself, from now on.
     
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  30. Fintft

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    Come to think about it, I almost always do it on second serves, but that's mainly b/c I'm expecting to be able to kill that serve with the ros (usually a FH ros). That's not the case against very good first serves (be them flat or sliced, etc), is it?
     
    #30
  31. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Sure you can take the step for first serve returns. Just start farther back.
     
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  32. Ash_Smith

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    Better push into the split
     
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  33. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    I voted other because I split step, bounce a couple of times on the balls of my feet and then step or rush forward to take the serve as early as I can.
     
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  34. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    I crouch low, bouncing a little to get the muscles primed before the toss, then I hop forward 1ft or so with both legs at the same time so that I land just after contact.

    Very similar to what Djokovic does, but with a little less flexibility.
     
    #34
  35. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Might provide a slight advantage for some players. I generally tell players to step with the foot that feels more natural. (Like which thumb is on top when you clasp your hands. One way feels more natural then the other). Many players may not even know which leg is dominant -- others may just not have a strong preference. To my mind it does not really matter which foot one uses to step forward. Whatever gets the player to perform the action most of the time is the way to go.
    .
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
    #35
  36. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Tried it for the first time last night against a player better then me (but who tends to push) and I shall use it from now on, thanks!
     
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