Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by W Cats, Dec 18, 2009.
What is a timing step and how is it used on both the FH and BH?
Just a bump
I'm not BB, but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that a timing step is either a split step or the pushing out with your outside leg. A split step is a short hop you take as your opponent is making contact with the ball. This helps get you moving so that you can track down the shot. The push off varies depending on the direction, but you should push off of your outside foot. If the ball moves to your forehand (assuming a right hander), push off of your left foot to move towards the ball. If to your backhand, push off your right foot.
Hope this helps somewhat.
A timing step is the step you take in a nuetral stance towards the ball. You step and swing. A timing step is very important for onehanded backhand players to help them hit on time. Step too soon, or too late and your time and contact with the ball suffers.
In the open stance, it is sometimes a little more subtle. But it is still the front foot of the stance.
Never mind my post then xD
That is okay. The main purpose of the step toward the ball when you are hitting is to help you with the timing of your forward swing to the ball. A while back it was thought that it was for power. It adds a bit of power but it is not anything to write home about. The main thing it is for is for your timing.
If you guys remember, I usually provide an easy way to remember equation power. The addends I usually use in this equation to illustrate this from a conceptual point of view are:
TIMING + CLEAN CONTACT = POWER
This is why players don't need to overhit. They simply need to maintain their timing and make clean contact. Let the ball pop off the strings because of it.
It took me many, many years to figure this key point out. I suppose getting older, helps.
I like this post.
Yup, when players use their swing to improve or maintain their timing, they can handle balls at various paces. Timing is important when you play players that hit with a lot of pace and don't hit with pace.
This is the "feel" part of the game. When players work on their timing, their breathing, their footwork, their ball judgement, their reads, etc...they will most defintely become great tennis players.
How do I use this step, i.e when I take this step should I start the forward swing of the back hand, or should I be mid-way through the forward or ??? Thanks.
Study this. Sampras here steps forward on this backhand and then swings forward.
Sampras also steps on the open stance forehand with his left foot and then swings and hits. Just note the timing of the step and the hit.
One of the points you mention below is working on ball judgment. Is there anything specific that you recommend to assist? For may of us our opportunities to play at this time of the year are rare and ball judgment is something that can deteriorate pretty quickly. So any advice would be gratefully received.
So for the righty OHBH it's the final step with right foot prior to contact? And for a righty neutral stance FH it's the final step of the left foot prior to contact?
BB if you had meant to attach a vid with your last post - it didn't come through.
Before we dive into this let's understand a few more things that I have mentioned in other posts but may not have been totally understood or didn't further expand on.
Several areas to discuss:
1. Return of Serve
2. The Feet in the Open Stance
3. Playing with More Feel.
4. The Onehanded Backhand
5. Baseball Video Games
RETURN OF SERVE
I have posted that the return of serve is mainly a eye/foot coordinated stroke. I stand by this because the ball is moving at a much faster pace and when the player picks up the ball through his eyes (where it is going and what it is doing) it is your feet that help time your forward swing no matter how short the takeback is. Even if you believe that the return of serve is more like a volley (or inbetween a volley and a groundstroke which I can agree with), the timing and execution of your footwork in the volley is what makes a player volley well. The saying from Edberg "I volley with my feet" transfers to the return of serve. Now, there are times that on a return of serve, you don't make an actual step to the ball. This is true. However, the feet are still involved in your timing of the incoming ball and the energy still has to come from the ground up to help you keep your balance and time your forward swing. A split-second decision needs to be made by the player as to what to do with his feet whether consciously or unconsiously. Does he step? Take two steps? Hold ground? No matter what happens the feet are involved in how it supports balance and the kinetic chain. Anything from the step-out to the split-step, the feet are about timing and a player must improve their footwork, conditioning, and ball recognition skills to synchronize the brain with the feet. They need to make it as automatic as possible and that takes purposeful practice.
THE FEET IN THE OPEN STANCE
Using the information above, the open stance also has a timing step in the shot as well. Many times it is not visible, but the energy from it is still there. When I mention a timing step, the entire foot does not need to leave the ground. "Step" in the way I use it is both conceptual and literal. It could be simply the raising of a players heel off the ground with the toes still on the ground. It could be a pivot. It could be unseen as the player pushes slightly against the ground. What matters is the feeling and effort (no matter how visible) made with that timing step. So, don't take the word "step" literally all the time. That step I am talking about can be unseen or is simply based on a slight feel. The open stance step is sometimes seen and sometimes unseen. The same is for the return of serve. However, the feet and how they move plays a key role in your ability to time the ball.
PLAYING WITH MORE FEEL
If you want to play with more feel, you need to work on your timing. How you read the incoming ball and how you move your feet are key in developing your sensory information to learn when to execute your stroke with good timing. When you step to the ball or turn towards the ball, your feet play an important role in your ability to time the ball in a variety of ways. In a way, and this is very general, it is easier to teach the open stance with beginners. The reason why I say this is because it requires a bit less complexity in the timing step. When a player is learning to hit from a forward or neutral stance, that timing step made towards the ball will be under developed. For some players, this can make learning tennis or at least enjoying tennis more difficult. The open stance doesn't add as much complexity in the timing step as the neutral/forward/closed stances do IMO. That is because the timing step plays a more minor role (still important) and relies more on angular momentum.
THE ONEHANDED BACKHAND
The foundation that the onehanded backhand hits from is the weaker side of the body and the least coordinated side. I realize I could say this for the twohander. However, the twohander has more of an advantage because of the strength the extra hand gives. When you hit your onehander, timing is extremely important. This is because you need to meet the ball over your front leg and make contact in front of your front shoulder. You need to execute your swing sooner in other words. Executing the onehander for grounstrokes and the return of serve depends on acute execution of your feet for your timing. Watch this video and the silent timing steps Blake makes to execute his forward swing. Watch how he prepares early before the ball bounces and watch how his legs are triggered from the feet on when to execute his forward swing. Now keep in mind this is a ball that is coming directly at him and he has to turn quickly to get ready to swing forward. However, in on move, he has prepared and "stepped forward" in one move. Note how his weight moves over his front leg. That is what I call the unseen timing step.
So, now that you understand what needs to be worked on when how to execute your swing, you should immediately add efforts into improving your timing while you are still working on making clean contact with the ball with your improving technique.
Here is the video I didnt post above. This is Sampras and is a good example of what a timing step is because you can actually see it on a onehander and his open stance. I am not concerned about whether Sampras had a great backhand. I am only looking to provide and example of what a timing step is.
BASEBALL VIDEO GAMES
Have you ever played a baseball video game? If you have you would immediately appreciate what I am saying here. When you are the batter in these games, there is a coaching element when you have your batter step and swing at the ball. When your batter steps out, the video game provides feedback as to whether you stepped too late or too soon for your swing. The swing follows the forward step into the ball. Some batters step forward and others step sort of away from home plate. However, that step forward is all about timing more than it is about adding power. Timing is about first understanding what it is and what you need to do. Improving your timing with the ball is all about feel and learning to play "in the zone." In the video game you need to read the release of the pitch, gather the speed and spin of the ball, all while timing your batters step and swing. In tennis, you need to read the ball off the racquet, move and prepare, setup, step and swing. The sequence of reading, moving, and stepping is where you feel for the ball needs to develop. This where your senses, intuition, anticipation, and other areas unseen need to be developed to help you improve your ability to play in what is known as the zone.
Next we can get into how to improve your timing for better feel, consistency, and overall enjoyment of the game.
It's about split step but when, at what time?
Let's say, you serve and move forward, and look at the returner's racket, an instant before he strikes the ball at that point of time you split step (slowing down), judge the ball, and move toward the ball. Basically, it's time not distance which determines the split step.
Generally, on the serve, it is believed that the split step is performed at the T, but some of the best servers split step quite before the T, some time at the T, and some time just inside the T. It all depends on how much distance you create between yourself and your opponent!
For example, if you push the receiver several feet behind the baseline, his returned ball will take longer to get to you, you will have longer look at the ball, and you will have more time to sneak in.
However, if your serve is short and shallow, your opponent will step in, (narrowing the distance between yourself and himself), return the ball early and quick, in which case you will be caught between the baseline and the service line, altering the timing of your split step. Thus it is time NOT distance which determines the split step.
It is attached, see above. Sorry about that.
What an epic post from such a simple question! Thank you.
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