Watch Zhang Shaui WTA world number 24 and Australian Open Quarter finalist hitting balls on court using step downs from a hand feed from David Bailey.
Step Downs are Offensive Contact Moves where you are “attacking the ball with your feet” and “taking time away from your opponent”. There are the various “out steps” that can be learnt. Step downs can be hit as Forehands, Backhands, Run Around Ground Strokes and Low Volleys. Low step downs contact moves are where you drop the back knee and the modified high step down contact moves where you kick the rear leg to the side fence as you contact the ball.
Zhang Shaui is particularly good at stepping down the court because she hugs the baseline and drives the back leg around after contact for balance, power and to help her recover quickly. Note her cross over recovery step which is faster than a side skip and gives great rhythm and smooth flow to her movement. Also note how low she stays (keeps the angles in her legs) and finishes her swing around her hip (what I call a wrist roll finish)…..this also keeps her low on contact and enables the ball to dip sharply (which is needed) because she has made contact well down the court.