Welcome to Drill of the Week, a new series on ACTIVEkids.com that will explain individual and team drills for parents and coaches to help kids improve at the sports they love.
This week's drill prepares tennis players for every shot with the split step, an exercise brought to you by CoachUp.com.
The first lesson in tennis that is taught is always the ready position. Knees bent, with your hands out in front, and your tennis racquet in an upward position gets you ready for that backhand or forehand. When you get older, and you get that down pat, the most important tennis tip of all is the Split Step. It prepares you to be ready before your opponent's shot before they hit the ball, so you can pivot and react to the next shot that comes your way. Remember, the split step should always happen right before your opponent strikes the ball. Done correctly, it helps to eliminate always feeling rushed. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the split step pivot:
- Follow the ball as it goes over the net. Right before your opponent is going to make contact with the ball is when you split step.
- Take a small hop forward.
- Making sure your feet are a little wider than your shoulders, and try and stay on the balls of your feet, you are now ready to pivot more swiftly to hit the ball.
Split step and then pivot can help prepare you for any shot. Anyone is going to tell you that in order to master the timing consistency is critical; it is necessary to remember to split step in practice during tennis drills for it to become second nature during a match. I've been there. In a tennis drill, your tennis coach has already told you where the ball is going so preparing does not require the help of a split step, but it is just like any swing, knowing how to use it contributes to being able to play well in the match. Think about your forehand. For most people it is their best shot, so people do not think they need to work on it, but there is always room for improvement, and tennis forehand drills would be the only way to improve.
For a visual demonstration of the split step drill, watch the video below.