Running steps are a natural movement that’s easy to learn, so I always start with them before teaching more technical movement options.
Moving to the forehand net
We’re going to start from a central position, with the racket foot slightly ahead. The movement is split, step, lunge. Let’s break that down into each stage:
You start with a split step, so you can move off quickly. In this case, we are splitting with the racket foot slightly ahead, because it’s easier.
As you complete your split, you need to push off with the non-racket foot. The push-off is in the opposite direction from where you want to go. Shifting your balance slightly onto that side can help with the push.
This push is what allows you to step with the non-racket foot. It also lets you pivot around the racket foot, so that you can turn your body slightly. Your non-racket foot will then be pointing in the direction of travel, which is what makes it a running step.
Finish the movement by lunging onto your racket foot. The body should now be aligned with the direction of your movement, with the hands balanced over the feet.
Moving to the backhand net
On the backhand side, it’s much the same thing. Let’s start with the non-racket foot ahead this time, again just because it’s easier. We can use the exact same pattern: split, step, lunge.
This time we’re pushing off the racket foot instead, but the first step is still made with the non-racket foot. That means it will not be a large step. Again, the foot is pointing in the direction of travel.
As before, shifting your balance slightly can help with the push-off.
To complete the movement, pivot around your non-racket foot as you lunge onto the racket foot. You need to finish in a position where your body has turned, as this gives you much greater reach. Again, the hands are balanced over the feet.
Covering longer distances
We’ve gone into a lot of detail about how to push off, because that is the most difficult and important part of the movement. If you push off effectively at the start, then it’s much easier to cover the distance.
But sometimes you will have a longer distance to move, and two steps just isn’t enough. You can adapt the movement by adding another step at the beginning, with your racket foot.
How to push off
The extra step means that the push-off is slightly different. The good news is that it uses the exact same skills you’ve already learned.
The forehand three-step start is a mirror image of the backhand two-step start. Likewise, the backhand three-step start is a mirror image of the forehand two-step start.