From Feel Tennis
How to Practice
You can practice these basic tennis footwork patterns in three ways:
1. Shadow swings with no ball
a. Open stance: Perform a split step, then just lower and coil and see if you can execute an open stance forehand comfortably.
Try adding a small step out with your right foot (for right-handed forehands), load and coil, and then uncoil while swinging your racquet.
b. Closed stance: Perform a split step, pivot on the right foot (on the heel!), and step forward into the shot while executing your stroke.
c. While practicing the closed stance, also practice pulling the hip forward and aligning your hips with the baseline while, at the same time, dragging your foot forward.
2. Easy tosses from your partner/coach or a ball machine
Follow the same procedure as above.
3. Rallying cooperatively with your partner/coach, and looking to minimize foot movements
See if you can wait for the ball to get to you sometimes or take just one step towards it, making sure that you pull the hip and back foot forward while hitting a closed stance forehand.
There is, of course, another side of the coin when it comes to tennis footwork, which is that you should position yourself as accurately as possible toward the incoming ball by making small adjustment steps.
This is correct, but it applies only to specific situations and not in general.
In most cases, you should optimize your footwork and take as few steps as possible before hitting the ball as that gives you the perception of having more time for your shot and makes it easier for you to coordinate your feet and arms while performing your strokes.