THE LATERAL REACTION STEP IN TENNIS FOOTWORK
AbstractAnecdotal evidence suggests that the key to quickness in tennis is the "reaction step", or the first step in response to the ball. There are three possible lateral reaction steps towards a wide and difficult shot: 1) step first with the outside foot towards the ball (jab step); 2) pivot on the outside foot while turning the hips towards the ball (pivot step); 3) bring the outside foot towards the body away from the ball, allowing gravity to assist the motion (drop step or gravity step). A controlled study of 10 participants showed that when a player used the gravity step to reach a lateral shot requiring a quick response, the player was 52% more likely to reach the ball (p < 0.05) and 100% more likely to control the return shot (p < 0.05) when compared to the jab step. A simple experiment utilizing a 9-marker motion analysis system provided further evidence to support these findings.
Coaching and Sports Activities
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