Let’s now summarize all the footwork involved in a typical tennis baseline rally. We’re only going to be looking at my feet here, and I’m going to shadow the whole sequence in the video above.
The very first thing I do is perform a split step, and I’m doing that at the moment my opponent is making contact with the tennis ball. Notice that as I hit my split and come down, my weight is centered and comes down so that my legs load up like springs. I then perform the first step movement by pushing off with my inside foot and pivoting out with my outside foot. All the weight then goes onto my outside foot. I then run to the ball, and as I approach the general area where I will be making contact, I start to take those small adjusting steps. I get set in a neutral stance and swing forward to make contact with the tennis ball. After I make contact with the ball, I bring my back foot (my outside foot) around so that my feet and lower body are back facing towards the net. From here, I’m ready to recover back to the tee.
In the first shadow sequence, I begin my recovery footwork by performing a cross step. I push off my outside foot and step across my inside foot while keeping my body facing the net. After I cross step, I get myself into a simple side-shuffle motion. I side shuffle back to the middle of the tennis court.
In the second shadow sequence, I split, do my first step movement, run to the tennis ball, and take adjusting steps into another neutral stance forehand. This time though, my recovery footwork is simpler. Once I’ve brought my back foot around, I go right into a side shuffle back to the center of the tennis court.
This type of footwork sequence is what you want to be doing almost every time you go to hit a groundstroke.