As amateurs, we can all agree that we can improve our game. This time, we will discuss and create awareness around a very simple action that can easily improve and take our volleys to the next level: the split step.
What is the split step?
It is a very small and quick jump that we make when we get to the net position. This movement improves reaction time and helps adjust for the next shot. It helps reading the incoming ball whilst also helping us balance our body better to move forward into the ball, or being able to quickly back away in case of a bandeja.
When should I be using the split step?
Technically it can be used anytime during the point, but we want to specifically focus on the split step when we are at the net or approaching the net. Why? Simple, because the distance and reaction time in padel is very limited. Our opponents have many options when hitting to us at the net and therefore there is a limited reaction time. They can hit to the body, a lob, to the forehand or backhand volley of either player. Therefore, we must use all the tools we have to be in the best possible position to hit our volley or be able to quickly change direction and move back to hit a bandeja or shot off the wall if we are lobbed.
How to perform a technically correct split step?
At the point our opponent is going to hit the ball we should take a split step. It is a quick jump, with a wide base and our heels should be slightly above the ground. This should help balance the weight of our body so it is going forward. When taking the net, it is important to always try to stop and then hit, and not hit while on the run – so always try to run forward to your net position, take a split step, and then hit your volley.
There is only benefits in adding the split step to your game, for example keeping you active and focused on the point and the ball, creating better synergy with your partner and keeping you in a state of readiness.
Remember, the net position is where we will win points, so after the split step, take advantage of the heel elevation and keep yourself on your toes – weight slightly forward and ready to attack when the ball allows you to do that