Tired Of Thinking About A Split Step

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Cindysphinx, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Split steps are important. I can tell the difference in my level of play when I am doing a split step.

    Trouble is, I have a choice. I can either think about doing a split step every time my opponent hits, or I can think about everything else. As things stand, I cannot do both.

    How can I get the split step to be automatic? I have been trying to ingrain the split step for the last year, and still it only seems to happen when I make a conscious effort. And if I have to devote that much mental energy to the split step, there's no mental energy left for tactics, court awareness, ball awareness and stroke mechanics.

    Anybody got a trick or a tip that might help?
     
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  2. Kostas

    Kostas Semi-Pro

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    Hmmm...I would probably spend like a week or two just concentrating on the split-step and pehaps you'll develop the habit?

    I'm sure others can provide better exercises heh.
     
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  3. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    Yup you think too much...

    Have one thought... at anytime. Once it becomes a habit you can forget about it. The split-step has alway been instinctive for me... nothing I had to learn.

    Once you are in a match... just play... the time to learn is over. Learning is meant to be done during practice. You can adjust tactics... but the time for learning are over.

    After reading many your posts... I have to admit... I believe you think too much, looking for too many answers when just practicing the basics will greatly improve your tennis.

    It is like your body... you can gain a lot by just strengthening your core.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
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  4. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Hi Cindy,

    Practise is to make a certain behavior more or less becoming automatic. If you still have to think about it so much, it's either not practiced enough or you've been doing something wrong after all this time. I don't know what's going on with you but you can try to stay very fit & athletic that it's virtually a non-issue for the body to move and hop around. For example if doing something as obviously and habitually as running upstair at home take the body so much effort, the body is going to resist doing it as much as possible even if it's such a natural habit, right? Secondly as learning a new habit, it's always good to exaggerate it as much as possible so under pressure you can afford to do less of it and still sufficient. Cheers.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    For me, it should be natural, having played baseball (poorly), football (OK) and basketball (not bad) thru my junior high and high school years.
    Basic tenet is ready position for left and right first of all. Staying on the balls of your feet and turning SIDEWAYS to move forward and back.
    Feet about 22" apart, bent knees, forward lean of trunk, hands waist high and together is what a DB, OFielder, or defensive any sport players adopts to be ready.
     
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  6. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    #6
  7. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Split step isn't a problem for me.. My issue is far worse - sometimes I don't really recover correctly back to the right area in singles... :p That's embarrassing. It happens especially if I hit a nice shot.

    As far as not remembering to split step - just get into the habit of trying to split before the opponent hits the ball. Its not really anything extra to remember because your not doing anything during that time period except maybe recovering..

    Pete
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    and you don't always have to jump to split step.
    Old farts or the lazy can just assume the 22" wide position, bent slightly and slightly crouched, ready to move any direction.
    First step to the right is with the right foot.
    First step back is by turning sideways and stepping with back foot back.
     
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  9. In D Zone

    In D Zone Hall of Fame

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    Couple of ideas. -
    First is to make sure to keep feet apart .
    > shuffling your feet (mini jogging - just a subtle movements)
    > keep your heels off the ground, slightly tip toed
    > keep at least one foot off the ground; not flat footed.

    Key is to constantly keep the feet moving even when you are not involved in the play. Move / shuffle your feet and position yourself to the direction of the ball - this will keep you alert and in ready position.

    Keep the mindset that you must move your position to the direction of the ball - even just moving very so slightly with your feet. You'll notice the split step will naturally happen.

    Think of it that you are in a basketball game - guarding against an opponent who is moving even without the ball.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
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  10. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    you know, making thousands of posts doesn't help really.

    maybe if you stop asking all these questions and start hitting the practice court a little more, you be a better player by now.
     
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  11. mtommer

    mtommer Hall of Fame

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    Cindy, it's only been a year. Don't expect it to be automatic yet. I'm going through many of the same things you often describe in your posts. It wasn't until last year when I joined here that I've actually learned about the game of tennis beyond the score. I too have difficulties remembering to split step as well as proper footwork, trunk turning (as opposed to hitting with just the arm), etc. I've gotten much better but I still have a long way to go. One thing that has helped me is spending dedicated time doing footwork drills/patterns without even hitting a ball. I have my sister hit buckets of balls to me and I'll just concentrate on split stepping and footwork. You aren't going to know you're doing the split step automatically until, during play, someone comments on your footwork and you do one of those "Whoa, really? Hey, I'm actually getting it." moments.
     
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  12. BounceHitBounceHit

    BounceHitBounceHit Legend

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    Hey Cindy,

    I'd suggest 'shadowing' footwork drills on the court. Also, WHEN you time your split step is very important. Younger players can look to time it so that it coincides with the opponent striking the ball. I'd suggest to you that at our age we are better off splitting as the ball bounces on the other side of the court. This gives you more time to adjust to the ball your opponent will produce.

    Best,

    BHBH
     
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  13. OTMPut

    OTMPut Hall of Fame

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    The hidden issue is perhaps fitness, if you get "tired of thinking about" split stepping.
     
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  14. Rui

    Rui Semi-Pro

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    The split step happens before your opponent hits her shot. Put off thinking about stroke mechanics and tactics. Instead, watch your opponent get ready to stroke; you'll know what kind is coming. Then watch the ball.

    Monitoring your stroke mechanics during match situations is not useful. To borrow a tip from MTM, concentrate on finishing your stroke.
     
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  15. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is what I do. Must be either an old fart or lazy or both.
     
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  16. CHOcobo

    CHOcobo Professional

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    i don't think about it, i just do it naturally. i do it naturally in badminton too, but bad for that game.
    you don't do it enough maybe.
     
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  17. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    split step

    I find most people I play with lately don't hit hard enough for me to have to split step. When I play someone good its split step or die! you don't think about it. maybe you should find some better hitting partners. I know i have to.
     
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  18. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    ...

    Tactics should be thought of BEFORE the point starts. But they should be flexible in terms things don't pan out 100% like you wanted.

    First thing, drill on your shots, A LOT! You want the feeling of hitting the ball to be 100% natural. You want to be able to effortlessly place the ball wherever you want from anywhere on the court. Stroke mechanics should NEVER be thought of during a point. It should come naturally, as if you did every shot on a whim, yet with a purpose to each shot which should come instinctively. Pick a shot, and commit to it instantly. Court awareness shouldn't be a problem... Focus on the ball and it's path and let your brain calculate the angles naturally. If you drill enough, you'll naturally know your way around the court, and playing a lot will help reinforce it.

    And ball awareness? Come on... Just watch the ball? :wink:

    Anyways, you need to drill, and focus on the ball with every shot. Also, you might be putting too much effort into your split step. Try not to get so far off the ground? I just try to spread out my feet a little and keep my knees bent while taking a minimal of two steps from the split step to my shot. Usually I'll end up taking 3 or more. I have a habit of getting a little lazy sometimes when the ball is hit pretty close to me. I can hit a decent shot, but why settle for decent when I can bomb on into a corner? :twisted:

    You need to be able to trust your strokes, otherwise why use them? It doesn't matter if I'm spraying forehands (which happens occasionally for a few days every several months or so), but as long as I believe in it and hit it naturally while focusing on safety, I can get through it. Focus more on what you want to do with each shot, and let things flow naturally.
     
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  19. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I think I wasn't clear.

    When I said I was "tired," I didn't mean "fatigued." I meant, "sick and tired." As in "Why can't I get this to be automatic?" I mean, I don't have to make a conscious effort to finish over my shoulder. Or point LH at incoming ball. So why won't the split step become automatic?

    BHBH, that's an interesting idea about timing the split step. If anything, I wonder if I am doing it too soon rather than too late. Sometimes I feel like a parakeet on a perch, waiting for my opponent to hit the ball. This is especially a problem with S&V -- I feel frozen if I split before opponent hits.

    Well, I am going off to play now. I think the theme of the day will be split-stepping. I will see if I can play for 90 minutes and never once forget to split. It would be such a relief if I can use my brain for something other than remembering to do a splitstep.
     
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  20. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    The nice thing about practicing a split step is that you don't need an opponent, a racket or even a tennis court. You could just do it while watching TV at night. Take a few steps forward, then do your split step with an imaginary racket in your hand. 25 times a night and in about a week I'd bet it becomes automatic.
     
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  21. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah..not worth thinking about and overanalyzing. The secret to tennis is to simplifying it down to feel and a few key points that you can cue up if you are mishitting.

    I don't know why you need to think about split steps..it's an automatic thing..you have to do it to move your feet to get into proper hitting position. If you aren't doing it, then your strokes will suck and you will be out of position and inconsistent.

    Watch the ball and move your feet upon your opponent's contact.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I suspect not all players have a sports background, especially one where you have to react to another player's movement or shots.
    Split step is to get you into "ready" position, which is basically the same in football, basketball, baseball, tennis, badminton, squash, racketball, karate, gungfo, wrestling, soccer (goalie), and hundreds of other sports.
    But if you didn't play those sports as a youngster, you'd never realize the importance of the "ready" position.
    Then again, some of us hit the ball, then stand there and admire our shots ... :shock::shock:
     
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  23. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    No, it's not automatic. Not at all.

    If you go watch a doubles or singles match with players of 3.5 and below, you will not see a lot of split steps happening. And yes, doing a split step does make your strokes better, which is why I want to make this automatic.

    Did a 2-person lesson today. One drill had her at net and me at baseline. I paid attention to my split step, counting how many splits I did in a rally. I split on the pro's feed, and I split for opponent's first shot. In my counting, I rarely got past "two." It seems I start off nicely and then I stop.

    I guess I'll keep doing that little counting thing until the number of split steps starts to match the number of balls struck. I need to start holding myself accountable. Maybe then it will become a habit?
     
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  24. Kostas

    Kostas Semi-Pro

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    Heh...how do you forget to split step while consciously counting them?
     
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  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    It's pathetic. I mean, how lame is that?

    At least that shows you the depth of the problem . . .
     
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  26. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Cindy,
    IMO, one of the problems in this is you got it backward. Split-step should be the default in the non-hitting time. So, you shouldn't think you split-step and then hit -- it will mess up your timing; but split-step all the time like holding the racket with two hands, and then get out of split-step to get into hitting position.

    The number of split-steps you happen to be able to do depends on the pace and athleticism, and it's really non-issue. Sometimes, the ball comes back so fast, no time to split-step at all. So, don't count. Again, do split step as default, get out of it to get into hitting position, then reset to coverage position and split-step...
     
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  27. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Wow, MTM just keeps on dishing out its dumbing down of the game of tennis.

    Can you please tell us how to simplfy things down to feel? Can you provide scenarios, analogies, illustrations? The term "feel" is being thrown around lot by you MTM'ers. However, maybe this term is overused, improperly used, and poorly applied to certain situations.

    You can't simplify things down to feel unless you have the necessary knowledge and practice to know what to feel. Feel does not always tell you what is wrong nor can you always use feel alone to diagnose a problem. MTM'ers fall short in their ability to diagnose a problem with a players strokes or movement. The pat answer for them is to transfer the risk of "figuring" things out to the player.

    Basically, all MTM does is transfer the risk of learning tennis to the player for a fee. If a player doesn't get it through MTM instruction, they tell the player that they need to undo all of that "conventional" learning or its the conventional coaches fault for bogging them down with piles and piles of details. If the player still can't get it, they tell the player they aren't feeling enough.

    The key to tennis playing is understanding and appreciating what a player needs to do and then practicing it. Practice will be a journey of trials and errors.

    Wait a second! So what you are saying is all I need to do is not think about it? How do I develop my timing without the use of my brain? Should I close my eyes?

    Split-stepping is an area that requires practice. For some, it is more difficult than for others. Performing the split-step is not automatic. This is where MTM falls apart because their pat answer is to just "feel".

    Anything that requires timing, requires practice. The split-step is all about timing and therefore you have to use your brain to gather information so you can make a decision on when to perform your split-step. From there, as players begins to sense how it works and when it works, a player begins to get better at self-diagnosis and the "feel" part begins to develop.

    This is hardly an automatic thing.

    This is your answer? We already know this! What happens if you say this to a person and he can't perform what you suggested? Now what? Do you tell him to just feel? What happens if they can't get it again? "Feel" again?
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
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  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    If it is automatic, how come Cindy and most other club players like myself don't do it by instinct? Fact is, it is not automatic at all. Juniors learn this from a coach or by observing other juniors. In fact, observing an adult club player who split-steps is a sure way of telling whether he played tennis as a junior or college student. It is not natural, either to do it at all, or when to do it. I have not seen any Discovery channel film showing an animal split-step before it pounces on its prey. Just like the normal way for a human being to accept something given to him from the side is to cross-step to it - he doesn't put his outside foot out first, and then get the object.
     
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  29. chico9166

    chico9166 Guest

    Geez, if it was so automatic, one would think I would see it everyday on the courts. Which I don't! It becomes MORE NATURAL after you learn it. (and even then it continually needs maintenance) The position of some on this thread, is almost offensive as it discounts, the thousands of hours of hard work that goes into building a great game, of which movement is a critical area.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2009
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  30. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think I know enough of this simplicity pitch by now to understand how people can fall for a system which preaches it. I see the same in many other areas:

    Take some pills and slim down by 40 lbs
    Subscribe to this diet plan and lose weight in time for Christmas
    Buy my DVDs for Internet sales and become a millionaire in 30 days
    Read my book and achieve everlasting happiness
    Buy this book and get your daughter a college scholarship, guaranteed

    People are looking for shortcuts and a way to bypass hard work or even to simply acknowledge that hard work is needed. So someone putting down conventional methods and selling a "simple" formula appeals to them.
     
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  31. chico9166

    chico9166 Guest

    How true, Suresh.
     
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  32. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Cindy... try and think of it this way. In tennis you should usually be moving your feet, except when striking the ball (although sometimes you must hit on the run).

    When your opponent is preparing to strike the incoming ball, you should plant yourself and feel balanced so you can respond in any of the four directions (forward, back, left or right). Don't worry about jumping, hopping, split-stepping, etc. as actively trying to split-step can really throw off your rhythm.

    Just make sure you're stationary and balanced at the moment your opponent strikes the ball.
     
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  33. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Wow. I got flamed,I don't even know MTM or anything about it.

    All I am saying is that it is automatic after a while and not worth thinking too hard about. If I dont do it, my strokes are bad and I am out of position. If you are not moving your feet after knowing how to do it, to me that is a fitness issue. I did play as a junior so it was something I just learned. I need to have my feet moving upon my opponent's contact of the ball.

    I guess to me it's really not that complicated. You just need to keep practicing it over and over and like everything else in life it becomes a habit. That is what I meant by don't overthink this. cindy is new to it and of course it is frustrating. I was out of shape for tennis last year and I thought I would never get it back, but I did. I don't think it's worth paragraphs of flaming back and forth.

    And Suresh, I have seen your pics. I'm not surprised you don't split step. You make enough snide comments on here that you can have one back.
     
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  34. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I think it is definitely easier for guys like us who were trained as juniors. We've had those skills our whole life so there is no thought involved with it. I'm guessing Cindy started later in life and so many things associated with tennis are not ingrained. Can you send me a pic of Suresh? :)
     
    #34
  35. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah I guess it seems normal to me..sorry Cindy..just keep practicing and you will get it.

    The Suresh pic is on here somewhere..I willl have to wade through his ocean of posts to find it asnd I don't know if im up to the task..lol.
     
    #35
  36. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Back by popular demand

    [​IMG]
     
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  37. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    The best part is by far the outfit. I could never pull that off, but you did it, and I applaud that.
     
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  38. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    What players need to understand is that people or players need to become proficient at things such as the split-step.

    Yes, in going through the journey of becoming proficient, the senses will be involved. You will sense you did something correct when you recognize what you should be feeling when you did do it right. Even still, some players need confirmation at times that they are doing it correctly regardless if they are feeling it is correct.

    Still other areas feel right but are technically being performed at a low level of effectiveness or effeiciency. It may also pose an increase in risk of injury to the player if they continue with what they think feels right over time.

    Building proficiency at something is not always easy. Every aspect of tennis isn't always going to be a piece-of-cake to learn. Nothing is if you really think about it.

    Yes, it is important to gain a feeling of what to do. However, this is not a catch-all way to learn tennis. Much of what we feel is processed through the brain and that requires information and feedback.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
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  39. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    All red, I like it!
     
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  40. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It was puchased several years back in a hurry from a pro shop which did not have anything else in stock.
     
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  41. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Good.

    Cindy, the split-step is a timing move and you are not suppose to dwell on doing it. It should be part of your thought process only as far as picking up when you need to perform it. At first, learning this can be a bit mechanical and your thought process tends to dwell on it too long because you have yet to incorporate one thought process synced with movement yet.

    The purpose of your footwork is to get you through the point in the most efficient and effective way possible. You do not want to dwell on your footwork. If you do, your mind is simply telling you that it has yet to master it and automate it.

    The main issue with learning the split-step is people tend to dwell on it and that it requires a bit more concentration to perform it. When this happens, and because it is performed so quickly, this is about all the brain can process and it becomes very sequential in nature rather than a simultaeneous thing which is where you want to be.

    Players do need to "check-in" at times to make sure all systems are working (inlcuding their footwork). However, this is a very quick and brief thought and should happen somewhat in the background while you process other things that should be a priority.

    You get the split-step to become automatic by taxing your physical and mental systems. You force the brain to use the split-step to get you to the next ball. When you tax your systems, learning and adapting takes place quickly. You are forced to do it and do it well or you fail.

    Once you understand what to do, now you need to learn how to use it so it takes you to the next pattern. Remember, footwork's purpose is to help you get through the court, cover more ground effectively, cover more ground efficiently, and support your strokes so you can win the point.

    You can also perform split-steps with your voice. Say, 1-2 or something like that. 1 is for the opponents hit off the strings and your split-step, 2 is for you to move in the direction you are supposed too.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
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  42. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    ^^^^

    That's really all I was trying to say.
     
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  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks, BB!

    OK, I say 1 when opponent hits. And 2 is for my split? That seems late? Or is it?
     
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  44. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Make it quick then! :) :)

    Seriously, one is when you split-step, two is when you move. Believe it or not, I used to say "1-2 tie my shoe, 3 -4 shut the door, 5-6 pick up sticks, 7-8 lay them straight, 9-10 do it again!"

    Throughout my little personal cadence :), I would split-step in more with the beat then the actual number I was on. I might need to do a split-step on an upbeat or something but I use rhythm to help me do it. The point is, my coach fed something like 50 balls with a certain beat for me to get it down. Sometimes when I was landing on the split-step, I would be right on 1, and that made it real easy to get it down for the next split-step. Do you understand what I am trying to say?

    Think rhythm girl!

    The other thing is don't dwell on "seeing the ball off the racquet". You can't. You won't. This is where it is more of a feel thing or a senses thing. AND DO NOT WORRY IF YOU ARE NOT PERFECT AT IT!!!

    The other point I am trying to make is to use something to help you become proficient - anything. Dwelling on just the split-step is not what you want to do. The split-step is a transition step to something else. Your goal is to read the ball and where it is going and to be moving that way.

    The split-step just helps you move quicker in the direction you are suppose to move when you time it right and help prevent you from getting wrong-footed.

    Issues Regarding Coming to Net and Performing a Split-step:
    For some, performing a split-step to help them prepare for the direction they need to move towards and make a volley can be challenging or seem like it is the end of the world for your tennis game. If you don't have the time to practice the split-step and are getting frustrated about it, stop doing it. You don't need to do it although if you do get the chance to increase your practice time you might want to develop your ability to perform a split-step again.

    If you are one of those people that would love to split-step but can't find the time to get it down, you can use short quick studder steps when you come to net (the kind that make your shoes squeek) to help you somewhat unweight yourself and then move. Obviously, this isn't ideal, however, you can move in a direction pretty darn quick which is usually good enough for a lot of players.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
    #44
  45. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    Just do your split step just as your opponent hits the ball, when you hit the ground you can react to where the ball is going.
     
    #45
  46. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Got it. I'll try, I will!

    Yet another New Year's resolution. Wonderful . . .
     
    #46
  47. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Hahahaha, Merry Christmas Cindy and Happy New Year. Let me know how it is going.
     
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  48. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    For me, a split step is the ready position a player would assume when they don't know where the ball is going at them, but they have to play the ball.
    Doesn't HAVE to be a split step, just a ready position where your feet are about 22" apart, balance on the balls of the feet, both hands joined about tummy heights for tennis.
    Ready position to move any direction ASAP.
     
    #48
  49. TheLama

    TheLama Banned

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    You only need to get an inch or more off the ground. However, if you do not do this naturally, it takes a lot of mental effort. And, it starts just before you opponent hits the ball, not when, as you need to read the ball off the face of your opponent's racquet, so that your body already adjusts to the direction of the shot before you feet land on the ground, which allows you to immediately push in the direction that you need to hit.

    Some of my players are weak in this area as well, and they are 5.5-6.5 levels players, so you are in good company. We start and finish--your body always remembers how you ended the workout--every workout with 10 minutes of play after warming-up, where they have to constantly run/dance in-place, and can never let their heels touch the ground. It is very tiring and mentally taxing, but you see the results in matches a matter of weeks. However, they do train a few hours everyday. FYI: this must always be done while at the net, from the jump.

    If you look at Nadal play, since back from his injury, he frequently does not split-step and gets caught being too defensive on hard courts. When he was winning everything, his split-step was working on hard courts. But, prior to 2008, he was also frequently not doing so, so guys like Blake and Berdych smacked him on hard courts.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2009
    #49
  50. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I have social doubles on Saturday. I usually like to pick one thing to work on. I was going to work on return variety.

    Instead, I think I will split step my head off for two straight hours. Maybe that will get me started.

    I agree that Nadal's movement is off compared to earlier this year. You really think it could be his split? I imagine the guy has been doing his split for so long that he couldn't change it if he wanted to.
     
    #50

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