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Published: 09 Jul 2008 - 21:39 by doubleDOT

Updated: 11 Jul 2008 - 15:23

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I had a question about footwork.

I was watching Razik's footwork video on youtube the other day and he asks viewers to drag the back foot after playing a shot from the backhand back corner. So that when he returns to the T he pushes off his back foot.

( Here's the link to the video )

Later on when displaying the shots for the backhand side, he drags the backfoot for the mid court shots as well, though its explicitly mentioned only for the back corner.

I've watched some other videos and I've seen Peter Nicol doing it but Jonathon Power doesn't do it, not for the back corner either.

Whats the importance of dragging the backfoot after playing a shot?


On a side note, if I were to try and copy the movement of any particular player to improve my own footwork or for reference, would Peter Nicol be a better example or Jonathon Power? ( I mention these two since I generally like their playing style more than others)


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From doubleDOT - 11 Jul 2008 - 15:23

Thank you everybody. I'm sure this'll improve my footwork.

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From rippa rit - 11 Jul 2008 - 09:21   -   Updated: 11 Jul 2008 - 09:23


Lol, take a look at the Relevant Content, Relevant Videos and Page Tags that have shown up since I put in the key words....good reading for you doubledot.

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From fatness - 11 Jul 2008 - 08:37

great feedback there, thanks..........

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From rippa rit - 11 Jul 2008 - 08:32   -   Updated: 11 Jul 2008 - 09:10

DD - You are picking my brains, yeah!! I just reviewed Razik's video again.  When looking at all strokes and movement it is important to take into account all of the factors, eg:

  • Distance from the ball at the time of take-off.
  • The speed of the ball.
  • The number of steps taken to get to the ball.
  • The nearness of the ball to the walls (back or side), depending if you have to wait for the rebound to get a swing at it, in which case the ball could be about ankle height before contact with ball.
  • The height the ball is at the point of contact with the swing, things dependent on the height and speed of the ball, the distance the player has to travel, the amount of pressure put into returning the shot, etc..

All of these factors will determine the footwork movement, the type of shot attempted, the height of the swing, the length of the lunge, and whether horizontal or vertical swing is the best option.

In Razik's video I notice:

  • he has a very long stride, takes few steps/lunges before swinging, has a horizontal swing, the height of the swing at contact is about ankle/shin high, his weight is mostly on his front foot while still balanced and has a wide base of support.

I think you will be able to mirror this movement if you put a few foam cups in the corners of the court, take up your position in the middle (like Razik's video), etc. and definitely you will be taking the weight on the front leg, and will need to drag the toe up to take-off again, and I bet your legs will feel the strain after 5 minutes.....then you compare Razik to John White who is tall and lithe and often uses a little skip and dip down, and a vertical swing....and this is probably more about limb length/stature too. Even things like knock knees or bandy-legs will have some bearing on player's individual preference for footwork/movement.

Yes, you will be better balanced no doubt with both feet firmly on the floor, with a good base of support, and that is probably OK for you if you are not in a hurry to retrieve the ball, are there in plenty of time and do not have to contact the ball at ankle/shin height.  

Do you get all the relevant points? These points mentioned, the pros calculate automatically without having to think, and adjust on the spot.  However, it is good you are asking and thinking as that is how you get to adapt your footwork under various circumstances.

PS: Your post "the stronger the quads and glutes the less the need to drag the back foot" .  The pros will still be balanced when lunging low and swinging forward into the shot at ankle height, and dragging their toe, being mainly on one leg,  because of the strength in their quads, hams and glutes, which then also gives them heaps of leg power to accelerate....not to mention the work the lower back is doing at the same time.....I feel mine creaking while I talk about this


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From doubleDOT - 10 Jul 2008 - 21:32

Alright, that was clear.

While we're still on the subject of footwork there's something else I've noticed about pros and would like to ask about.


When I lunge forward to play a shot the toes of my back foot are grounded. I don't know how to explain this better: The toes of my back foot are on the ground while my ankle is in the air with my foot bent at the toes.

However, when I watch videos of the pros, their back foot isn't bent, rather the top of their foot is almost touching the ground. They obviously can't have any weight on their back foot in this position.


I don't understand the logic behind this since wouldn't it be alot more easier to push off and be balanced on the back foot if your toes are already on the ground?


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From rippa rit - 10 Jul 2008 - 21:16   -   Updated: 10 Jul 2008 - 21:17

DD - You make it hard - as there are always exceptions to the rule.  What I tried to point out was:

  • Stature often has something to do with getting down to the ball, as well as the length of the stride, and the number of steps necessary to move into position,eg a 5 footer as opposed to a 6 footer in height. .
  • The degree of balance at the point of hitting the ball will depend on how much time there is to get both feet/legs in position.  Leg strength could also play a part here.
  • The length of the stride helps get a wider centre of gravity/balance.
  • If all the weight is basically on one leg (the front one), it will be necessary to drag or bring the back leg up to gain a point of balance before recovering from the ball (pushing off).
  • Those players who cannot get a long comfortable stride (especially new players and children) may lack power in their quads and glutes preventing them from lunging out swinging and recovering.

Sure, ghosting practice will improve leg strength, eg quads, hams and the big long low strides will put more pressure on the glutes, and that is why we get such a sore bottom after a big hard match.



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From doubleDOT - 10 Jul 2008 - 20:16

So what I understand is that the stronger the quads and glutes the less the need to drag the back foot.


If this is true then shouldn't I NOT drag my back foot during ghosting so that the muscles get a good workout and get stronger?

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From rippa rit - 10 Jul 2008 - 07:53

doubledot - that was a good footwork clip you put up, not too fast either, so it could be followed.  Notice how low Razik is, because of the length of the lunge, when he is to strike the ball, he is already down ready for the swing, hence looks very fluent.  The length of the stride,  and how far you drag the backfoot to regain balance. will depend to a great extent on the strength in the quads and glutes.

Another point too, is the few steps taken because of the stride length.  Being low to the ground in stature will enhance this style too.


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From fatness - 10 Jul 2008 - 06:17

the point of dragging your back foot is for when you are under pressure and you have to lunge out to retreive a ball, your leading foot will be way out in front and your trailing foot will be way behind. when you transfer your weight after playing your shot, it is very hard to transfer your weight onto your trailing foot because of the distance between them. by dragging your trailing foot you are reducing the distance between your feet, thus it will be now easier to transfer yout weight to the back foot.

the correct technique is to lunge, then drag your trailing foot and then transfer weight from front foot to back. if you get the timing right you can use your trailing foot ( after dragging ) to transfer weight onto it, ie. you push off with your leading foot, then drag your trailingfoot up behind, then use your trailing foot to assist your leading foot with the weight transfer. does this make sense?

jonathan power only uses this technique when under pressure, nicol seemed to use it more frequently. i tried it and it really helps you to recover after your opponent plays a really stretching shot. it takes less effort to recover to the Tusing this technique. i am probably not making sense but hopefully you can figure this out.....

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From Adz - 09 Jul 2008 - 23:17

Very interesting video clips.


The point of moving the backfoot is not to push off it, but more to pivot your bodyweight on it. Notice that he doesn't push his bodyweight upwards off his back leg, but he does transfer his weight onto it very quickly. The dragging the backfoot simply adds to the balance of the movement, and the efficiency of the steps are made clear in the descriptions.


As for the other question about Power vs Nicol, I'd probably go with Power for efficiency. It says something when a guy of 185lbs and around 6ft can be world number 1 whilst still being regarded as someone with excellent movement.





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