Trouble understanding the Split step

Discussion in 'Techniques / Training' started by Mr Arc2, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. Mr Arc2

    Mr Arc2 Regular Member

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    Hello,
    I am quite fresh to tournament badminton and I am trying to bring my game to the next level. Therefore I study different literature. It can be difficult to find the correct info, because different people say different things.
    Consequently I still have trouble understanding the split step and the general starting to a corner.
    I came across this article. The paragraph starts with: "the most important part".

    https://books.google.de/books?id=wT...v=snippet&q="the most important part"&f=false

    The following questions arose:
    1. Alignment of the feet up-and-back (Fig 3.44 b): The author mentions the back forth stance is used when the opponent is forced to do a clear/drop. I was always under the impression this stance is only used when i play a net shot. Maybe thats what the author meant. Thoughts?
    2. Fig. 3.44b shows this back forth stance, but shouldnt the right foot be in front if i am a right hander?
    3. From this base position a split step should be used: So in a parallel stance I dont use a split step?
    4. You always complete the split step by coming out with a small jump to one foot...: So I read about this counter movement before but it was never explained together with the split step. The countermovement is supposed to enhance the quickness at the start. But when watching professional players I dont recall them ever using this technique. Most of the time i see them in a parallel stance, then doing a split step and ending up in again in a parallel position. Also this technique isnt explained in any youtube videos about footwork. Whats up with that?
    I would also be happy to hear suggestions on other, maybe more up to date literature, either in German or English. Maybe there are more ressources about this topic. Also I am especially interested in single strategies.
    Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. asadafgs

    asadafgs Regular Member

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    Not sure if this is what the book is referring to, but normally in singles you stand in the middle with neither foot in front of one another. Then when the opponent hits the shuttle, you split step in the direction you will move in (split step is the mini hop that initiates footwork...correct me if wrong...in Chinese it is called 启动步 or start step). For example, if you are right handed and your opponent drops to your forehand corner, then you will do the start step and land with right foot in front. If backhand corner, then land with left foot in front. If clear to forehand corner, then land with both feet facing in the shuttle's trajectory. If clear to overhead, then no change of the feet. If backhand then land opposite of forehand corner. Obviously, this is not always the case. For example, if opponent plays deception then you will split step landing parallel, then split step again in the direction of the shuttle. Also note that a lot of time in singles, you will never actually be standing with parallel feet.

    Hopefully I explained it better, but since it is footwork, the only way to really learn is to do. If you are still skeptical then try to do footwork without a split step in the direction of the shuttle and you will see how hard and akward it is.

    Perhaps when the pros do this, it is so small that you can't see it. Or they don't even need it. VA can literally get a drop to his backhand corner with one step, meaning that for most shots, he won't need the side step in the direction of the shuttle.

    Edit: There are a lot more footwork variations that I have not described, as we are discussing the split step, so if you are interested in those, pm me or just ask.

    More advanced single's strategies include netting to the middle instead of the two sides. You can also lift and clear closer to the middle instead of the sides if you feel like the opponent's smash always hits the sidelines and have trouble defending. Feel free to ask for more.

    If you want videos, Zhao jinhua and Xiao jie have a very good series. Other coaches have videos too, but none are anywhere close to ZJH IMO.





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    #2 asadafgs, Sep 6, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
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  3. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    The author has missed a few words. It refers to a high, defensive clear.
     
  4. MSeeley

    MSeeley Regular Member

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    I would suggest that reading about footwork isn't as efficient as watching good videos. As you know, finding good content can be difficult. I would say the content you found, if it is the only source you are using, is relatively poor.

    And be careful of the terminology: the base position is the positioning of where you stand on court, not HOW you stand. (thus avoiding confusion for point 3 above). So you should always use a split step - a split step is sometimes referred to as a widening and lowering of the stance (as shown in that book). However, the correct definition is that it is simply a preloading of the leg muscles, to allow powerful movements (load the muscles, then move, as you would for any other movement e.g. bending the legs when you jump). If your legs start wide and you are already low with knees bent, then you do not need to go wider and lower - but you should perform a small "bounce" on the spot in order to prepare the leg muscles to move powerfully.

    Regarding landing on one foot or another e.g. landing on the right foot first, or the left foot first, depending on the direction you wish to travel: I do not like players practising this - I believe it is very prone to guessing where the shuttle will go. So, obviously, if done correctly, its fine. But most players jump the wrong direction, and end up being late to the shot. I believe it is much better to land on both feet simultaneously, and then use both legs to push off towards wherever the shuttle is using the strength of both legs. It leads to much better footwork in the long run. I would just keep it simple: split step is where you do a little hop, landing on both feet, and landing after you have seen where the shuttle is going. You can then push powerfully to move towards the shuttle using the appropriate sequence of steps.

    The book is very out of date with those foot positioning pictures. "Up and back" is clearly left foot forwards. I agree that you may choose to stand in this way if you are expecting a high lift following playing a tight net shot. The correct stance in singles is much closer to a parallel stance - with feet wide and roughly side by side. However, normally you would want to put the racket foot (right foot for most) slightly forwards, between half a foot and a full foot further forwards than the other foot. This gives better ability to push forwards and backwards, whilst retaining the ability to scramble sideways in defence if required.

    For details on footwork, I recommend videos. Peter Rasmussen has a good series of videos but its difficult to find these days. He also does a very good "footwork drill" that shows the perfect footwork (even though its only one step). Zhao Jianhua (and the other coach - forgot her name) did an excellent series of coaching videos some of which focus on footwork. Jimmy Lin has some videos on footwork (username thejym? on youtube). Kowi Chandra has some excellent videos on footwork.

    Badminton bible is normally pretty dependable and has good articles for footwork last time I checked (a few years ago now, but I believe content is continuously updating and improving).

    Good luck!
     
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  5. Mr Arc2

    Mr Arc2 Regular Member

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    Thank you guys @asadafgs @Cheung @MSeeley ! These were really good answers. I really appreciate it! Most of the things you guys mentioned was how i thought it worked but I just wanted to be safe before i learn an incorrect technique.

    So this was my biggest point of confusion. In the second source this technique was said to be a "elite level skill". But how can i know what my opponent is going to do? This technique is maybe applicable in the lowest leagues where players play without deception and one can guess the next shot close to 100%. However later it should be much harder to get it out of the system.
    The hopp from parallel to parallel is what i always see the professionals do. But theyre so quick that i have to watch it at half the speed.

    How is the timing with the split step? I would think that i start hopping before the opponent strikes the shuttle and the landing is just after the shuttle has been hit. Of course its no leap, just a small hop.

    I know. You are correct but i couldnt find anything newer that is similarly detailed. For example there are 8 pages of singles strategy wheras other books only have one paragraph.

    Thanks again. Now i am off, hitting the court and practicing
     
  6. asadafgs

    asadafgs Regular Member

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    If you split step like you described, you will be very vulnerable to deception (double action / hold). Of course, you have options if they play deception. E.g. You think they will clear to overhead so you split step, shifting your balance backwards. But they actually play a net, so you need to split step again in the direction of the net shot and shift your balance.

    What I like to do is split step when I hear the sound of their shot. At this point you can definitely see the trajectory of the ball, so you will know where to split step to.

    IMO, just practice a lot of footwork and find a good coach if possible (much harder than you may think). Looking at YouTube footwork hurts my eyes, and I may consider making my own this weekend, when I have time.

    Edit: An example of a good coach would be someone that can tell you that when power smashing in singles, your swing should end up on the right side of your body (assuming right handed). A mediocre / bad coach will not even know of this or won't tell you.

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  7. MSeeley

    MSeeley Regular Member

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    It is indeed an elite level skill. It is something I have seen Peter Gade teach in defence. But its just a red herring when learning - something that may be true for the professionals, but is going to get in the way for most people.

    If you watch professional players, they actually land their split step a LONG time after the opponent has hit the shuttle, this means they know where the shuttle is going and can combine that with their excellent leg strength and efficiency in order to push off powerfully in the correct direction. Thus, some land on one foot to help them push the other direction, but others just land on both feet and push off just as effectively. Furthermore, what the professionals do doesn't matter - its what will actually work for you that counts. As such, learn to do it with both feet landing at the same time, and as stated above learn to do it against good deception. Once you get really really good, you may end up doing it differently to the way you learnt it - but by then, my advice will be meaningless - you will already be extremely good and won't need anyones help with anything!

    I urge all to remember: the goal is to learn to cover the court effectively given your current level of skill and athleticism. Copying every aspect of what professionals do isn't always the right thing when just starting out - sometimes you have to grow into more advanced skills, not learn them up front (i.e. learning the more advanced skill isn't always a shortcut to success if you don't have the necessary physical attributes and skills to go along with it).

    Regarding the timing: I don't care when you start the split step, but I urge you to land it considerably after the opponent hits the shot. I want you, on landing, to know exactly where the shuttle is going and how fast. Land too early, and you still won't know where to go, making the split step pointless.
     
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  8. Borkya

    Borkya Regular Member

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    How long did you guys focus training the split step before it came automatic?
     
  9. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Alas, we are mere underlings compared to them. :(
     
  10. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Huh, always training it to do it properly.

    It is automatic in the sense of automatically wrong.....
     
  11. Borkya

    Borkya Regular Member

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    I mean in terms of not consciously thinking about it, like, say, changing your grip from forehand to backhand. Surely at some point the spilt step becomes an unconscious habit, right? Does the habit built quickly or does it take awhile? (Asks a doubles player.)
     
  12. MSeeley

    MSeeley Regular Member

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    A couple of months of footwork practice - good dedicated practice will enforce good footwork patterns. This includes split step. I never had to practice it explicitly to get it into my game. But obviously I did practice a lot to improve it and my footwork in general.
     
  13. OhSearsTower

    OhSearsTower Regular Member

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    for me it was automatic from the first day I heard of it, which was pretty much when i started badminton

    having problems with the timing for years now tho...I splitstep too early which is why I still struggle with players with good deception or hesitation...tough to change this bad habit for me

    I always wonder why so many ppl do not do it or do not even know about it. They are so unbelievable slow and static lol
    some dont wanna hear about it...strange people :p
     
  14. DarkHiatus

    DarkHiatus Regular Member

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    Like your example of changing grips, doing a a split step at all becomes automatic quite quickly, just like realising you need more than just a panhandle grip. Perhaps 3-4 weeks.

    However, as others point out having A split step is different from having a GOOD split step (but almost certainly better than no split step!).

    As with almost all badminton skills, it's not black and white. There are always refinements to be made. In the case of a split step as discussed above, it can be the timing (of split step), timing (of pushing off - 1 or 2 feet?), position (base), position (foot placement), balance, height (centre of gravity).

    All skills follow the route of:
    - unconscious incompetence
    - conscious incompetence
    - conscious competence
    - unconscious competence

    So when does it become automatic? After you identify a problem, seek to correct it, and drill in the movement. Step 1 is often the hardest which is why a good coach is worth their weight in gold!

    You also have to be wary about things becoming automatic - often people skip from conscious incompetence to unconscious competence. Which is great until it stops working and you don't know how to do whatever it is correctly (normally because your technique slowly faded due to bad habits).
     
  15. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Perfect.
     
  16. R20190

    R20190 Regular Member

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    Great explanations above already. I will just add that a lot of people do quite large split steps, in fact some pros, particularly European ones do quite a large "jump" which I think is unnecessary and wastes energy and time.

    You really are aiming just to load your leg muscles which you can do with just a small movement. I wouldn't even call it a "jump" as jumping sort of implies you need to jump "up" first but in fact most of the time you will find that you are actually moving slightly slower, almost like a momentary "squat".
     
  17. MSeeley

    MSeeley Regular Member

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    You are right that the larger "jump" or bounce that you sometimes see is unnecessary. However, I do not think in practice it wastes any energy or time. The reason I say it doesn't waste any time, is because it is timed to land at the same time as a smaller and more compact split step - the smaller motion starts later, but they both achieve the same thing: fully loaded leg muscles at the instant that the player needs to move.

    I would encourage players who are learning to move (who haven't yet achieved a professional or high competition level of movement) not to dismiss the idea of a larger split step - it can drastically help as it removes an element of uncertainty in the timing. Most players bounce (or rather land their split step) far too early, before they have adequately judged the trajectory of the oncoming shuttle. Thus, players who perform a smaller split step are more prone to biasing their bodyweight in an unhelpful way prior to actually moving (i.e. anticipating - often wrongly until they reach a certain level of technical racket skills). Using a larger split step when time permits can actually prevent this mistake, as you cannot get your balance wrong whilst jumping (therefore the capability of making the error goes away from you). Remember: If you don't know exactly where to move as you land the split step, you have timed it wrongly.

    The reality is most players use a mixture of large and small bounces, depending on how much time they have. A player who usually use a "big" jump doesn't have a problem using a smaller and quicker one when necessary during games, so it really amounts to the same thing in the end - the players move towards the shuttle with equal speed regardless. Many players will also use the final movement back towards the middle of the court as their "bounce" e.g. the final chasse is actually a split step whilst moving slightly - this also works very well in practice.

    And I agree that a "jump" or "bounce" isn't required (except it is helpful for some players as described above) - what is required is a widening and lowering of the stance (i.e. the feet move slightly further apart unless they are already very wide, as well as a bending at the knees and a forward hinge at the hips).
     
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  18. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    Aww, thanks Matt. :)

    I actually redid our intro page on split-step (video & text) a little while ago, as I wasn't happy with it (particularly the demos). This is only an intro, and I don't cover the timing yet.

    I think the timing is an interesting topic. I don't think it's completely straightforward, as different timings can be used for different situations. Without getting into specifics of timing, I like Matt's explanation:

    This explanation is compatible with variation in the split step, and avoids bikeshedding over exactly when it might start.
     
  19. MSeeley

    MSeeley Regular Member

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    Agreed - there are so many different theories and things to consider in practice. I find that once people get the feeling of actually pushing off powerfully at the correct time, their technique then morphs into whatever works best for them. I also think there are definite differences between what is required for singles and doubles (with the mans role in mixed doubles probably somewhere in between). But in reality, all these things work themselves out with time and practice.
     
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  20. Gollum

    Gollum Regular Member

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    Good point.

    An extreme example would be defence in singles, where the men in particular often have a very wide split. Also I feel this is a case where a slightly earlier split can help a lot (prioritising the smashes because you are defending, and then just accepting that your other coverage is slightly worse).
     

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