When observing professional players I have noticed, on the whole, a specific ratio of movement that occurs when they are in control and not having to scramble. The effortless flow and grace around the court is something to behold and admire and there are a few key specifics that they employ in order to allow the ‘walking’ towards the shot as well as back to the T area.
There is a misconception that the players just flow and glide the whole time but this is not the case and often is the downfall when amateurs try and replicate the pros. Amateurs can get caught in the trap of being too slow and deliberate at times when it calls for urgency and explosion. But the timing of this is essential and will be discussed.
The reason the pros are able to get into this ‘walking’ phase is due to the little bursts of energy and explosive power they put into their movements at just the right moments. When leaving the T as well as when exiting their shots the pros often work in the following ratio:
POWER – POWER – EASE (PPE)
Let me try and break it down best I can…
As player A approaches the T in a smooth and controlled manner, and as player B is about to play their shot, player A gets into a levitated position just before engaging their split-step. As player A decides the time is right to engage the split-step this is the first bit of the POWER ratio that gets executed. Very soon after this, and as player A lands one foot on the ground, the second bit of POWER gets executed to push the player off the landed foot in the desired direction they want to go. This first and second part of the ratio are closely linked and occur in a millisecond and are hard to observe with the naked eye unless really looking closely for it. When you slow down videos and observe it becomes more obvious. Due to these first two bits of explosive POWER, and linked closely to timing, player A is then able to afford to glide onto the shot with an EASE fashion thereby completing the PPE ration on the way to the ball. What gets noticed most of the time is this EASE part of the ratio as it takes the longest, is the smoothest and very stylish looking. What is underpinning all of this however is the first two exertions of POWER in milliseconds to allow the EASE to seamlessly happen.
Similarly, this ratio occurs when player A wants to get back to the T also. Let us use the deep backhand corner for a right-hander in this example:
As player A arrives at the ball, which has hit the back wall and is dropping, they will usually get into a 2-footed base. This 2-footed base allows the first execution of the POWER ratio whereby player A drops their hips, softness their knees and transfers the body weight through the shot. This all happens moments before the swing gets engaged by is very closely linked. Timing is essential in this part of the movement. Once player A has executed the shot and transferred the body weight and taken their first step out, the second moment of POWER now comes into play. This second part of POWER for recovery I call ‘the kick’ and you will see the pros often do a little skip and use the knees to drive downwards and lift themselves up and out of this position to kick hard towards the T. Once this has been performed, player A has moved a significant distance out the back corner and is only one and a half steps away from the T area. Now the EASE gets engaged again as all the hard work and emphasis has been put on the two parts of POWER at the beginning of the ratio. Hopefully, you can imagine what comes next? Yes, the EASE of the previous ratio links to the next bit of POWER for leaving the T. A beautiful and seamless transition and one that can be worked on and honed at the amateur level now that the awareness of what is occurring has been highlighted.
Let us remember though, when the need to scramble arises, get scrambling. This ratio will not hold up under this circumstance and needs must at certain times.
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