The ‘Split Step’
Many of you will have read or heard about the mystery of the ‘Split Step’ in squash already. Some of you, however, will not. This is one of the important movements (if not the MOST important movement) to master in squash.
We all know it’s important for you to be in the right place to return the ball, and to be there in plenty of time to prepare for your shot. This is vitally important if you want to control the rally – and hence overcome your opponent. But why is it that the professionals seem to make it look so easy to be in the right place at the right time? The answer is in understanding the ‘split step’.
How to do it
As with many techniques in squash it sounds so easy when describing it, but it’s not that easy in practice. Simply put, you can accomplish the split step merely by:
- take a small jump in the air with both feet whenever your opponent is about to hit the ball,
- time this jump exactly right – just before your opponent’s racquet hits the ball,
- move your feet apart slightly – just a little wider than your shoulders and
- land on your toes or the balls of your feet.
Do this correctly and by the time your feet descend to the floor and start to make contact, you will already know in which direction you need to go in order to be able to return the shot. You can then push off from the correct foot and already be moving in the right direction a split second after your opponent has hit the ball.
Some great examples
Here’s a great example of a slow-motion match between two squash greats – Nick Matthew and Gregory Gaultier (Swedish Open Final – 2013) that I came across the other day and I really noticed the Split Step in action (there’s a great example at around 00:27). Both players do it, and when you are looking for it, it’s quite interesting to really notice them doing it for almost every return!
Looks and sounds easy, right? Well, not quite so easy – but the split step is something that is easy to practice in situations when you are not under pressure, perhaps when doing drills or when just knocking-up – so that it starts to becomes second nature when you are under pressure in a real game.
So – why not give it a try if this is something you don’t already try to do?
Happy Split Stepping! 🙂