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Split Step?

Published: 16 May 2006 - 05:01 by jnorth51

Updated: 02 Jun 2006 - 02:10

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Recently I was at a squash tournament and overheard some players talking about squash movement, specifically split stepping.  I have noticed watching top level players do this with their feet as their opponent hits the ball.

Does anyone know what I am referring too?

If I was to start practising this, how would i go about doing it?

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From raystrach - 02 Jun 2006 - 02:10


to practice:

you can practice the technical aspects of the movement by simply practicing your take offs - you may need someone to give you feedback.

more importantly is what goes on before hand which is th crux of the issue
  • the top playersplay very relaxed and very focussed
  • they time the start of this movement so well that when they start this movement (down) they may not know which direction the ball is going, but as they start to take off they do know - this aint easy
  • they actually make the decision of were the ball is going BEFORE the ball is actualy hit
  • depending on indiviual reaction time, they start to move anywhere from just before the ball is hit to just after
  • you need to practice that decision making process in practice and game situations
some links

article on anticipation
Footwork in Libary
another article on racket swing

it may seem a little thing but this is a huge area!!

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From jnorth51 - 01 Jun 2006 - 02:50

Hi ray -

Yes, I think thats it!   I picked this up by watching some dvds of the top players in tournaments, etc.  I noticed that after they hit the ball and move to the T, they are (of course) watching the ball while moving to the T.  Just as their opponement hits the ball, they stop moving and get into this split step position, where they do this little hop and stop and spread their feet out a bit.  Then (almost at the same time), they move towards the ball and get ready for the shot.  It makes sense to do this, so thats why I was asking.    Is this what you are referring too?

If thats the case, how does one go about practising it?

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From raystrach - 31 May 2006 - 23:41

hi all

the only time i coach split step is when retrieving from the back court (usually a ball off the back wall so there is usually adequate time) it may happen at other times  but it will usually be an automated reaction to a certain situation - that's your body telling you what to do.

the other situations you refer to ADZ, i personally would not call split step. i am certain not everyone would agree but...
  • the back leg ( nearer the back court) i call the power leg because where possible i am trying to get weight transfer from back to front foot - the back foot helps drive into the shot
  • the front foot i call the control foot because once you land the back foot you can use the front foot to control your position relative to the ball
  • too close? you step away slightly with the front foot
  • to far away? step closer to the line of the ball
  • there are plenty of situations where this is not the case especially at the back and front courts
this all happens in a split second as opposed to a split step and we talking in a perfect world

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From BizarreCo - 31 May 2006 - 18:52

Ah! I think that explains things a lot better for me too!


So the essence of the "split step" is to position the feet correctly to give better balance when playing the shot(s)?


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I took this to mean:

Ideally the feet should be shoulder width apart, but when you move at speed, you legs move more central to your body (especially when taking longer strides). The idea of a split-step is to quickly reposition your feet to gain maximum balance after reaching the end of such a sequence of movement.


If this is the case, then there are two different ways that I do this during my own movement. Firstly I arrive just before the shot position on the leg that I DONT want to put most of my weight off (I'll call this leg the pivot-leg). I then bring the other leg (the planted-leg) through and across slightly in an "L" shape movement (forward then out to the side). This provides a stable base with the weight spread between both legs, but slightly in favour of the plant-leg.

Secondly I find that if I move in a zig-zag pattern to slow, front shots then I can actually arrive with both legs spread appropriately to give balance for the shot. This also helps to add deception to my shots (so I've been told?!). This second movement type only really works when the ball is loose enough and the right distance away, but the final principles of being in a balanced stance are there!!

Of course, I may have misunderstood the "split-step" idea completely, in which case corrections are greatly received!!




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From raystrach - 31 May 2006 - 09:26   -   Updated: 31 May 2006 - 09:26

hi jnorth5

i have mentioned split step a couple of times without going into it too much. don't have time today to get you a diagram but this is what i believe is split step.
  • it is not a term associted with squash, but tennis
  • in the serve and volley game, when a player is coming to the net, at about the service line and as theball isabout to reach them thy will split step or cease their running and open up their stance (to stabilise themselves) for the volley
  • i advocate this same action when going  to the back court to retrieve the ball especially off the back wall
  • at the appropriate point, stop the running action and take a little hop to separate the legs  (across the shoulders) and stablise and so make a better shot
  • my experience is, when most players do it they hit more accurately
  • a similar action is taken by the top players when they are about to retrieve a ball
  • they watch the opponent as they about to hit, dip their legs a little at the right time and widen their stance in preparation for take off with a little hop
  • the are able to get lower ad get more traction for take off
  • i call it split step  because it is almost identical to the tennis action
  • remember that it is not always ncessary and not always possible

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From jnorth51 - 18 May 2006 - 21:57

Sounds great Rippa.

I look forward to reading the upcoming information. 

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From rippa rit - 18 May 2006 - 13:25

jnorth51 - put the split step to sleep for a week or so and when Ray Strach our tech drawing computer whiz kid is back we will need to do a separate article on this one, as this chit chat is not working.

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From jnorth51 - 17 May 2006 - 21:34

Hmmmm....unless i missed something (which is totally possible!  it is still early here), i didn't see very much in those links about info on split step (how to do it, how to practice it, etc).

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From jnorth51 - 17 May 2006 - 21:34

From jnorth51 - 16 May 2006 - 22:28

Morning Rita!

Glad I got your head scratching this morning!!   Good job.

Thanks for the info!  I love reading, so it will give me something to about and work on with the split steps!!

Good stuff!

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From rippa rit - 16 May 2006 - 07:34

Morning jnorth - well you had me scratching my head wondering where all our Split Step archives were hiding so I have found a couple of previous forum discussions, so here they are:-
This started out about Tie Breaker or Set 2 and got into Split Step.
Another article got taken all over the place and mentions a Split Step - Back Corner Pain Relief

This will give you a bit of reading.  So if you have any further questions about it just say so.

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