While working with a clinic group a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to add a new phrase to my teaching language: simultaneous succession.

We all got a good laugh out of it when one of the participants, who has authored books in her profession, said, “Those words just don’t fit together.”

And, by definition, they don’t seem to, initially anyway.

Simultaneous: existing, occurring, or operating at the same time; concurrent, as simultaneous movements.

Succession: the coming of one person or thing after another in order; sequence; or in the course of events.

So, here’s how, in my tennis-twisted mind, this makes sense.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had more time to hit your shots? If you had time enough to feel like your feet are set, body is in balance and all systems are “go” for hitting the perfect groundstroke?

Well, you can, if you practice doing three simple movements in “simultaneous succession”:

1. Split step

2. Racquet back

3. Cross-over step

The split step, a small hop done just before your opponent strikes the ball, gets you on the balls of your feet, shoulder width apart and balanced to move. This helps to gain time by moving to the ball from an active, rather than static (flat-footed) position.

Racquet back happens as soon as the ball leaves your opponent’s racquet, determining whether you’ll hit a forehand or backhand. Again, having your racquet back and ready gives you more time to execute a cleanly hit ball.

The cross-over step happens just after the balls of your feet hit the ground and gets you moving on a diagonal line to the ball. This takes some practice to get used to, because many players tend to unconsciously lead with the foot on the body side the ball is coming toward.

A righty hitting a forehand should cross-over step with the left foot. When hitting a backhand, the cross-over step is with the right foot. It’s just the opposite for lefties.

The trick to it is to do all three in such smooth succession that they become virtually simultaneous movements.

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides custom-hybrid racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. lwmarino@hotmail.com