Originally Posted by Wegner
Ash, sorry for the delay. I consider footwork and foot movement synonymous. But I do know some patterns are very beneficial. And yes, they are essential at high level. I do coach them through drills, so the person can adjust them to be in tune with their own physique and very efficient as well.
Interesting that you say this and acknowledge that footwork needs to be taught/coached - I think perhaps your ideas have been mis-represented as the generally thought around your work is that you don't teach footwork/movement and allow it to just happen (which as you say later it doesn't always!)
Actually, it is the desire to be efficient that drives the player to look for simplicity and for the best way to use the forces in nature. For example, a child does not cross over the foot first to go to one side, or they would fall backwards, unless they lean into the new direction. What the child does is which is very efficient, they take the weight off the foot closest to the direction they want to move to, resulting in the center of gravity of the body "pulling" them in that direction. What many kids have but needs to be taught if not present, is an extra move to accelerate the start in that direction: sliding the leading foot outwards, together with some turn in the new direction, then the crossover as necessary. I state this simply for more clarity. No big words.
Again, I am glad you acknowledge that some footwork patterns require or may require teaching. Your talking of a person taking the weight off the foot closest to the direction (Dynamic Imbalance - to use big words!) is how people walk - the centre of gravity shifts in the intended direction of travel and the legs swing out to stop you falling over! The sliding out the leading foot (some call it a jab step), for me should be taught as part of the split-step and actually requires the player to land slightly one foot before the other - thus creating the dynamic imbalance referred to earlier and allowing the player to "fall" to the side they intend to move. Your thoughts - do you ever teach it this way? How do you reconcile your approach to teaching or "not teaching" footwork with the approach of somebody like Jez Green, whom I know and have had the privilege of being on court with when he's worked with Murray - he is very specific with his biomechanics and positioning of the body?
There are other situations, as in the volley, where this outside sliding foot aids net coverage. If you cross over as first reaction, you cover considerably less than if you slide the outside foot first, then step across or cross over. I usually teach the "footwork" or "movement" with drills, so I am guiding the player to select from his actions those which are more efficient and beneficial. It is a very interesting subject which I feel needs to be addressed intelligently, otherwise, if it is not aligned with nature, it makes the player slower (I have tested this extensively).
yep, agree with this
The point about emergencies. Preparing early can be misleading. Many players practice to react (prepare) fast all the time, even on a slower ball. If you react in this fashion to a slow ball, how would you react to a ball 4 or 5 times faster than the previous one? This does not promote coordination. The best technique is: slow for a slow ball, faster for a faster one, all coordinated.
Sorry, my point was more to do with the image of calling tennis a game of emergencies encouraging players to be reactive rather than active! It promotes the idea that you have to react and cope rather be proactive and create - to me anyway