THE FIVE RESPONSES Successful implementation of any one of the previous four keys will lead to an immediate improvement in your game. If you are able to integrate two or more (or preferably all) of these four keys, your improvement will be dramatic. However, to realize the full potential of your game, you must now develop the fifth key, The 5 Responses. The 5 keys concept has been designed to supply you with the tools to respond appropriately to every conceivable on-court situation. Once you know (1) where you are (2) what you can do with the ball you receive, (3) how to hit the ball and (4) when and how high to hit it, all that remains is to assemble these pieces of the puzzle to form a picture of what playing tennis is all about. The final piece of the puzzle is The 5 Responses. The 5 Responses concept is your ability to consistently deliver a tactically placed and/or powerfully hit ball with the appropriate spin. It is also your ability to change the pace of your shot and/or hit on the rise. This is the mark of a highly skilled player - a level that you will be able to reach if you can develop these 5 responses. To become the best you can be, you must first build each of these responses individually, and then integrate then selectively. You must begin with the most important response of all - consistency. 1. Consistency: Above all other things, tennis is a game of consistency. Your overall objective, of course, is to limit unforced errors and keep the ball in play. But more important, once you achieved a level of consistent performance you can then begin to add to and expand the scope of your game. 2. Placement and Depth: While you are developing your consistency, knowing where to hit a ball - and actually being able to hit it there - is the next response on which you should concentrate your efforts. The ability to deliver the ball to strategically effective areas is an important factor in being able to control a point. You must be able to produce shots with control and accuracy, which challenge your opponent's mobility by either drawing your opponent out of position, passing your opponent at the net or hitting deep. Depth here is referred to in the context of distinct distance. For example, balls that land in Zones 1, 2, or 3 all have depth but are of different distance. Balls landing in Zone 3 may be considered challenging to your opponent's timing (difficult bal to handle). 3. Increased Ball Speed: While consistency and placement are developing, you can begin to increase the ball speed of the shot that you have received. The purpose of increased ball speed is not necessarily to overpower your opponent, but rather to return a ball to your opponent with greater velocity than you have received it. Timing is a critical factor in the game for both you and your opponent. Greater velocity upsets your opponent's timing by putting pressure on the ability to react, prepare and recover. The result can be a forced error. 4. Change the pace and spin: In addition to consistency, placement and increased ball speed, your next response is to control the ball with various spins and/or disrupt your opponents rhythm by changing the pace of the ball. These responses present your opponent with an entirely new set of variables. Changing either the spin or pace of the ball creates conditions of uncertainty for your opponent, leading to the greater likelihood of error. 5. Hitting on the rise: Having consistency, placement, increased ball speed and a high level of control, your final response is to be able to take the ball on the rise. The sooner you hit the ball after it bounces, the less time your opponent has to react and prepare. Moreover, taking the ball on the rise will allow you to generate more power off of your opponent's shot. Because the distance the ball travels has also been decreased by your ability to take it on the rise, the time it takes to be returned to your opponent is reduced. You have gained control of the most precious commodity in the game - time. With the ability to produce a quality response, the 5 Keys to Tennis are now yours. Appropriately selected, combined and applied, the 5 Keys to Tennis provide a new dimension to your game.