Tamara Slobogean Lesson #4: The Split Step

I’ve never been one for quick comebacks or witty repartee. By nature I take information in, assess, then make my thoughtful move. I am the turtle, not the hare. On the court, sluggish reflexes don’t serve me.  But after years of wishing I could jolt myself into action, propel myself to the right spot to be ready for the ball, I think it may finally be advantage turtle.

I am fascinated by the split step. Perhaps mildly obsessed. I’ve been practicing it in the condo – my husband keeps reminding me our neighbours below probably aren’t pleased.

He’s not calling me fat, it’s just that the sparky, urgent nature of this move is all business. So as I rehearse, I have to acknowledge, that on the hardwood of our wood frame building, my sudden movement does make a thud.

Let me try to explain it: Man serves. Moment man’s racket makes contact with ball, opponent bursts forward, as if taking that wide hop in a game of hop-scotch. This is the mighty split step.

After years of lamenting a sluggish reaction time both in life & on the court, I have new ammunition. I get its potential. I stumble trying to put the sequence of steps together that begins with the split step, but just once, it works. I find myself in the right place at the right time. I return a pretty powerful serve, and I hit well.

All this may just be proof you can teach an old dog new tricks. Not sure Godwin would agree, but I think I’m improving. If I am, it’s thanks to him.

Tamara Slobogean is a local TV producer who has blogged about her experiences as the Blushing Frugal Bride. She’s now blogging her way through Tennis 2.5.