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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Split Step

Yesterday, my main post was about the ready position as you advance from the baseline toward the kitchen line. Included in that post was the following paragraph describing some important aspects of getting into the ready position:

After hitting the ball, you should advance forward to the kitchen line when it is safe to do so. Stop immediately and assume the ready position when your opponent is about to hit the ball. You should never sacrifice early preparation for position on the court. A common error is rushing to get to the non-volley zone and continuing to move forward while the opponent hits the ball. You should NOT be moving at this time. If you are moving, your body is committed to a specific direction and it is much harder to adjust to a shot away from your direction. Early preparation is always more important than court position in executing a shot.

What I did not discuss was the transition from quickly moving forward to a stop into the ready position if you haven’t reached the kitchen line. The technique of most quickly and efficiently getting into position is called the “split step”.

 split step is easy to do physically. Just stop and plant both feet parallel to the net while simultaneously assuming the ready position. The split step should be timed to occur when your opponent’s paddle contacts the ball. A slight hop prior to planting your feet means you have a little forward momentum but still have the ability to move in any direction.  The photo below shows this action in tennis, where the technique is identical.

The timing of the split step is the hardest part of the technique. If you are too late, the ball may be hit to a spot you are not prepared to move. If you are too early, you will be caught flat-footed and lose that split-second that could mean the difference between a return or an opponent winner. Proper timing only comes with practice and play.

Here is a short video called Pickleball Quick Tip - Split Step from the Pickleball Channel explaining the split step.

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