The timing of the split step is not easy to master that’s why this video shows you some practical drills for improving your split steps.

The usual advice on when to hop in the air is that you should do it when your opponent hits the ball but as you will see you actually initiate a split step before the contact.

You’ll also learn that jumping into a split step is not really a high jump but more of a hop and that it often times happens just off one foot.

The key is the landing – you should land already knowing where the ball is going so that you can immediately push off in that direction.

You can easily train better split steps with the jump rope and following the drills in the video above.

Get your split step timing right and you’ll see how much quicker you’ll be off the mark.

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Great video! What are you using as your cue to split step? Are you focusing on the opponent's body, their racket or the ball when timing the jump/landing?

  2. This is a great lesson. Your self analysis of your ideas through clear description of what the key elements are is the right way to do it. The special focus on when to do it in relation to knowing where the ball is going is very key- because that is what players want to know. Truly helpful.

  3. As a professional coach I truly appreciated this video and teaching. It is in my opinion one of the most neglected and correctly understood part of tennis training!

  4. Many thanks for all the great videos, Tomaz! A question for you: what should one's eyes be focusing on in order to time the split correctly? The ball, the opponent's racket or the opponent's body movements (which may betray their intentions for the following shot)?

  5. but the height of the split step can vary according to the situation on the point. For eg high when u are defending (have seen Murray do it quite often), low when have no time (running from one corner to another without having much time ) and normal ?

  6. I think these calculations are not a good way to teach split step. Your last drills were quite helpful though and kinda made up the baffling calculations in the first place. I assume you need to use the player's own ability and recognition to calculate and find the right timing for him/herself. However, you've got to remind them from time to time to execute their split step on every shot and preparation and not to stay there like a solid stick! By the way the environment of the court is quite haunting and picturesque. Which country it is?

  7. These lessons and drills are amazing! Holy shit, if only my highschool tennis coach knew this. I would've grew as a player a lot faster. The idiot wanted us freshman to use a continental forehand wtf??? I understand eastern, but continental???

  8. Thanks for the helpful video. Question : What cues from your opponent do you use to determine which direction to push off towards?

  9. If I understand the "orthodox" theory of the split step, it is necessary to rise slightly off the ground in order to "load" the legs and provide greater ("explosive") lateral acceleration from the standing position. Being an older player I find that continual split stepping in this fashion both hard on the back and somewhat of an energy drain in a long match. This got me thinking about the necessity for taking a small upward jump rather than simply dropping quickly into a short crouch.

    If dropping without first jumping is done with the feet fairly wide apart there is plenty of support for an explosive lateral movement. Trying both methods of split stepping, I find that the "drop without initial jump" at least 90% as effective in loading the legs.

    I also started to question this orthodoxy of "loading the legs" for explosive lateral acceleration. I think it is quite obvious when you observe the functioning of your legs that the loading of the legs, which involves the firing of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles is most advantageous in vertical (forward/backward) motion and only marginally important in lateral motion, the latter involving other "core" muscles. I suspect that the real benefit of "loading" for lateral acceleration is the semi-crouch position which lowers the center of gravity and gives more stability for explosive movements both laterally and vertically.

    Also, what seems to receive less attention is that either method of split stepping causes one to shift the balance more forward (toward the toes), reducing the flat footed posture we have when just standing. Trying to move explosively from a flat footed posture seems more difficult that doing so from a more forward posture. From the standpoint of getting more on the toes, either method of split stepping seems as good as the other.

    Finally, if we can dispense with the initial jump, it is easier to time the split step and to execute it much more quickly.

    So, if I am correct, shouldn't we execute the split step by dropping quickly rather than jumping and dropping?

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