As I mentioned before, in the previous blogs, the importance of the split step and the first (pivot) step are crucial for the preparation of the stoke, positioning of the body and maintaining the balance and posture before, during and after the shot.
I was asked so many times by the players, what comes after the pivotal step? My preference is a cross step. Without the pivot step and the cross step, a player would have to rely on the side step, which is comparing to these two much more inefficient and slower.
Split step and the pivotal step happens before and just after the opponent makes the contact with the ball, while the cross step is the fast and explosive movement towards the anticipated contact point, when the player already realized in which direction needs to move (laterally, diagonally, backwards or forward).
1. SPLIT step is a preparation phase which commence with the light jump in the air when the opponent BEGINS his follow through from the take back. The reason of the early timing of the split step is that the timing of the opponents contact point and when the player is landing toward the ground should be the identical. Why? Stretching of the calves and upper leg muscles while landing from the split step is followed by a very fast contraction of the same muscles which enables the player to move very quickly and smoothly in any direction using the ground force.
2. PIVOT step is a step when the player already understands (ball just left the racquet of the opponent) the direction of the movement and anticipates his/her contact point. While landing a player lands on one foot (further of the ball) in a SUPINATED position a split second ahead while pivoting the outside foot (foot and shin) BEFORE it touches the ground towards the direction of the movement. Pivoting the foot and shin automatically initiates the rotation of the pelvis and the player is ready to begin running laterally or diagonally. Pivoting the outside foot and pressing into the ground, gives a chance to the other foot to cross over in an easy and explosive way, which unables the player to begin his movement with the long, strong strides.
3. CROSS-OVER step is the push off the ground movement reaction which:
a) Makes the movement more explosive b) Gives more composure to the movement c) Keeping the players dinamic balance and posture d) Enables court coverage in just a few steps!
While pivoting one foot, the other one is performing a cross step pushing off the ground into the wanted direction (lateral, diagonal, forward, backward). In this way a player is making an explosive push, covering the court in a few steps while keeping the balance and posture NEEDED for the:
a) Deceleration, b) Loading, c) Proper execution of the shot, d) Controlled follow through motion and e) Recovery