| By Steven Kaplan

While much has been written about split steps as magical movements unique to tennis, split steps in functional performance are just another way to describe simple " stops and cuts." More specifically, split steps are the transition movements from linear or straight acceleration to multidirectional movements with the goal of managing uncertainty.

All movements have three parts: Starting, Accelerating and Stopping, and in dynamic sports like tennis, the end of one movement is also the beginning of the next movement. After hitting a shot and running forward, a split step, as your opponent hits the ball, enables you to react with a quick, balanced movement in any direction.

The 10 keys to strong split steps are as follows:

1. Stopping at the moment you track your opponent's shot.

2. Widening your stance for body stability and a lower center of gravity.

3. Decelerating your body by throwing your legs forward to create a steep shin angle.

4. Powerfully loading your mass into the ground by hinging your hips.

5. Full foot contact while stopping for maximum stability.

6. Pushing your elbows straight back so your arms are in a perfect counter balanced and coordinated position with your legs.

7. Connecting upper and lower body movements with a natural lower back arch or "Neutral Spine."

8. Shifting your weight to load your outside leg for a powerful cut.

9. Sequencing your lower body movement first for an efficient cut.

10. A forward torso lean for acceleration after the stop.

Steven Kaplan

Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve &Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.