Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by wt888usa, Jul 29, 2004.
This sounds like such a dumb question, but what exactly is split-step and how do you do it?
A split step simply unloads the wieght off your feet and allows you to move in either direction in an instant. You sort of come forward. It is a hop with your feet going out about shoudler width apart ready to move left or right. Go to this post (Leaning on the slice backhand...) and watch sampras on the video that he comes to net on. Just before he gets close to the net, he split steps, or hops, and then moves to hit the volley.
The split step is perfomed just as or slightly before your opponent hits the ball. You dont want to be in the air WHEN your opponent hits the ball.
Split steps are perfomed for the return of serve to quickly move left or right. Split steps are performed for groundstrokes, volleys and approach shots.
Most club players do not practice footwork patterns so incorporating the split step can be a challenge, especially in the approach shot before you take the net.
For most players, quick little steps can help you change direction for your volleys. These quick little steps can be just as effective as performing a split step.
So if you cant do it, dont fret. A lot of players cant.
Wow you have any more vids/clips/gifs that I can learn from? Or know where I can find em on the 'net?
just take a little hop forward with both feet apart (like a jump stop in basketball) and facing forward when you are moving toward net when your opponent strikes the ball so that you are balanced and capable of moving in any direction, otherwise like Bill says just take smaller and smaller steps as you move toward net so you are capable of changing direction quickly and don't get caught moving the wrong way midstride.
Did you look at the other clip on sampras hitting the slice backhand in the backcourt in "Leaning on the slice backhand"? Just as the video starts you see Pete coming down from a split step to move to hit the slice. YOu have to see it right when the video starts. He lands with both feet about shoulder width apart. That is a split step. He then moves the foot closest to the ball first to get into position.
Another thing to note, you generally want to almost always be on the balls of your feet (not the heel, but the area where your toe meets the feet), in general (not just for split steps hehe). I see too many flatfooted club players... In some cases, I guess you can't blame'em.
One way to time the split step is similar to the calling out "bounce, hit" practice on the opponent's bounce and hit. That is, focus on the ball bouncing on the other side of the court, and when it will get hit. You generally want to split step a little before (or close to the same time) the opponent hits the ball. The split step allows you to spring in just about any given direction and ideally, by the time you've done the split step, your eyes/mind registers the direction the ball is coming so you can spring towards that direction and get ready for the shot.
It's quite helpful. But indeed, a lot of club players don't do it unfortunately. But you should at least see it in a lot of competitive juniors and college play. And I would imagine any level above 4.0, it should be commonplace (depends on how much rankings are padded in your area though--my area is pretty well padded I would think).
For basketball players, it helps to compare it to the "Triple Threat Hop" or whatever it's called (stop? position?). Basically when a player receives a ball such as a pass, he primes himself with a sort of split step so he can spring towards another pass, shoot, or movement. A lot of hoops lovers out there should know what this is.
Things that help implement split-stepping your game... Don't rush so much to position after you've hit the ball, in many cases you can slide step back towards position, split step when the opponent is receiving the ball, and make movements to where the ball is going.
Players who do not use the split-step, regardless of age, generally are late on most shots. I think its important to use the split-step even when just hitting - among other things it keeps one connected.
B BIll has defined Split Step very well. HOW or WHERE you split step can be a bit complicated as you get to advanced level. It not only depends on your shot, but also depends on your opponent.
Sometime, you might want to hop forward, backward etc.
This tennis magazine had a great article done by Rick Macci on split step, I strongly recommand you to read that. It's actually more about recovery, but very very good.
Split stepping enhances a players ability to make a first step to a ball by putting the leg muscles in what is called a ballistic stretch.
A core idea of split stepping is unweighting. Here's an experiment you can do to understand it quickly.
1) stand on a common spring scale (bathroom scale with needle and rotating number wheel).
2) suddenly lift both legs like you were going to tuck them into your chest but without pushing down on the scale. (there is no need for your feet to come off the ground), then stand back to normal before you squat all the way down.
3)notice that your weight on the scale will drop for a moment then increase far past your normal weight.
your unweighting and sudden re-weighting caused an increase in the force on the scale and thus the scale exerted a greater force back on your feet.
at the moment which the force is increased the tendons and musculature of the legs is storing potential energy that can be used when you push off to move to a ball and thus get there quicker.
practice unweighting right before your opponent or practice partner hits the ball everytime and it should become a habit.
leaning forward during this movement should also encourage you to lean on your shots which seems to help most people hit harder.
traditionally the split step is done in a hopscotch pattern where all the weight is put on one foot which unweights while leaning forward on to both feet.
I've seen variations on this at pro level and discussed it with many coaches but the fundamental ideas of unweighting and leaning forward remain.
A jumpstop in basketball allows you to pivot with either foot if you need to do so before passing the ball. I don't think you need to take as big of a jump when doing this in tennis, more of a hop instead of a jump.
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