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Interactive Forum May 2016: Timing the Split Step

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  • Interactive Forum May 2016: Timing the Split Step

    Timing the Split Step

    It’s debated by coaches and players. When does the split step start and what are the actual step patterns? These two incredible clips have the answers—court level 500 frames a second allows us to actually see.

    In both clips Federer and Djokovic start the split before the opponent makes contact. In both clips they are at the "top of the hop" as my friend Gordon Uehling calls it, when the opponent strikes the ball. Federer lands in a wide base with the toes pointed forward. This is because he reads the direction of the shot and sees he will simply turn his body and take positioning steps to set up the stance to hit a backhand.

    Novak sees that his opponent is hitting crosscourt and actually starts his movement to a running forehand while the ball is still in the air—look at the angle of his right foot when he lands! How many players are focused enough to read the clues and to react this way? Great goal for any player!

    Last edited by johnyandell; 07-01-2016, 09:47 AM.

  • #2
    Quicktime version

    Timing the Split Step

    Last edited by johnyandell; 07-01-2016, 09:47 AM.

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    • #3
      Time...

      Intriguing how when players move up the levels how they somehow learn to develop more time. I am convinced this is one of the separators between playing standards but don't fully understand how it comes about. When you consider that balls are rocketing around around the 90mph mark just in rallies, you have to wonder how high up the perception scale these guys are.

      I've played some very good players in the past and can tell you that I didn't even set off against some of the powerful shots they hit. The ball is moving so fast. Yet somehow top players develop the time to deal with it, and Federer rarely ever looks stressed.
      Last edited by stotty; 05-04-2016, 05:40 AM.
      Stotty

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      • #4
        Originally posted by licensedcoach View Post
        Intriguing how when players move up the levels how they somehow learn to develop more time. I am convinced this is one of the separators between playing standards but don't fully understand how it comes about. When you consider that balls are rocketing around around the 90mph mark just in rallies, you have to wonder how high up the perception scale these guys are.

        I've played some very good players in the past and can tell you that I didn't even set off against some of the powerful shots they hit. The ball is moving so fast. Yet somehow top players develop the time to deal with it, and Federer rarely ever looks stressed.
        Intriguing indeed. But could it all be relative to their level of opponent. Yes, their perception is high, because it needs to be. But what if it didn't have to be?

        These clips are great at showcasing world class movement. But even more so....balance. Take a look at their posture. That's really great stuff.

        Kyle LaCroix USPTA
        Boca Raton

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        • #5
          Originally posted by klacr View Post
          Intriguing indeed. But could it all be relative to their level of opponent. Yes, their perception is high, because it needs to be. But what if it didn't have to be?

          These clips are great at showcasing world class movement. But even more so....balance. Take a look at their posture. That's really great stuff.

          Kyle LaCroix USPTA
          Boca Raton
          I get the "could be all relative bit". I move well. I read play and set off before opponents strike the ball. Many players do. But when you watch Federer and Djokovic move and set up for balls that are coming in at 80 and 90mph, you have to admire their high alert mechanism and the way they must be reading play.

          When you play a class player, they have lots of time and you don't.

          I think the timing of the split step is a critical part with fast players like Djokovic and Federer. Their split steps are spot on and it gives them that extra split second head start.

          Which player do you feel has the higher split step? Do split steps become higher when the emergency is greater? It seems that way sometimes, certainly with amateurs? You would think it would need to be the opposite.
          Last edited by stotty; 05-04-2016, 02:17 PM.
          Stotty

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          • #6
            This is just wonderful footage. My takeaway is really focusing on the other guy, and it's just not oh he is hitting I need to split step, it's here comes his racket and I need to be in the air when he hits. Relaxed urgency!

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            • #7
              They seem to initiate it when their ball bounces on other side. The focus, balance is amazing.

              As for better players seemingly having more time, could it be that its their anticipation and confidence in awareness of their opponents tendencies that aid them in their perception and abundance of time? The split step is simply the way for them to initiate the explosion.

              Kyle LaCroix USPTA
              Boca Raton

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              • #8
                I think that another element that appears to give the better players "more time" is their unseen expectation of the direction of their opponent's shot. For players who have played each other many times, there are the expected patterns during the point. In addition, the better players use the small elements of their opponent's body details to add another useful variable to the anticipation equation.

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                • #9
                  Bob,

                  Agreed! That is why I think you see them already turning often as they are in the air!

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