Very often people start out a lesson from the baseline. They might even scoff at the offer to warm up with mini-tennis – ‘I’m no beginner, I can hit from the baseline!’ they might think or say.
But playing mini-tennis can be done at a very high level, and there are many benefits from playing here that you cannot get from the baseline. At the start of every single practice I would warm up playing mini-tennis with high-intensity, working on racquet head acceleration to cut the ball so sharply the massive spin would keep it in. The key is not to have a slow racquet head, but a full swing, just imparting more spin and less drive.
The drills in the below video are fantastic and I highly recommend using them if you are a coach or student. Unfortunately I am just dropping the ball to myself in the demo video, but obviously in a lesson you would have a coach feeding you the various forehands and backhands from the service tee on the other side of the court.
Set up cones at a sharp angle inside the service box – not right on the corner, but inside the service line. The key here is you want your angled shots to bounce far off the court. On you down the line shots, set up cones deep in the court, and work on using both open stance and neutral stance. The pattern of hitting (1) sharp angle to pull your opponent off the court and (2) down the line drive to hurt them, is a common pattern and one that you should feel is your ‘meat and potatoes’ play. By practicing from the service line, you become more comfortable generating sharp angles from the baseline.
The approach shot drill gets you used to moving through the center of the court, and approaching the net. It drills into you the proper footwork. Keep your body low to the court as you hit through the ball.