Just before your opponent hits the ball, take a little hop, then come down with your weight evenly distributed on the balls of your feet, ready to move in any direction with the correct foot. Taking this hop, called a split-step, enables you to stop and read his shot. Don’t just take a hop, land on your heels and turn off your engine. You have to be ready to move your feet. Don’t expect a return to one side or the other and come down heavily on one foot. You can get caught if you have to move in the other direction. Another mistake young players make is taking a series of hops, hoping one of them is timed right. Take a true split-step as your opponent takes his or her racquet back, and you’ll be ready to move in either direction with an explosive thrust.
This lesson and illustration is an excerpt from Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids