Training 10 - strong boxer

Published on June 3rd, 2013 | by Joe Starks


Physical Fitness Types: Reaction Time

Reaction time is the time it takes for a person to react to a certain stimulus. This stimulus can be seen, heard or felt. Jumping quickly off the blocks in swimming competitions, or reacting to the sound of the gun at the starting line, these are actions that need a very good reaction time from the athlete. It is thought that reaction time is basically an inherent skills, which means you either got it or not. Is that really true though? Let’s look at the facts.

Testing reaction time

Before thinking about training your reaction time you have to know what your current reaction time is. Reaction time is not the same thing no matter what you do. Visual reaction time can be better in some individuals who do not have as good a hearing reaction time as others. This becomes obvious in people who have eye problems or slight hearing deficits. Not all of us are sensitive enough to get the stimulus early enough to react quickly. A basic prerequisite for good reaction time is health.  People that enjoy a good health especially when it comes to touch, hearing and sight are usually faster at reacting at stimuli.

When we are young we learn to react faster depending on our upbringing and activity levels. Children who in an early age do reactive sports become faster at reacting than the average adult. This does not mean that an adult who didn’t have adequate training as a child can’t improve his reaction time. On the contrary, it is very important for those kinds of people to train reaction time to improve their life’s quality in general. Reaction time does not only make you a better athlete, it also helps you work faster, react better in surprising and unexpected situations (even making you a better video gamer).

There are plenty of tests to determine your reaction time. Some of them are:

  • Click reaction time test. You have to click a button or your mouse according to a flashing light’s rhythm.
  • Ruler test. How fast can you catch a ruler after you let go of it.
  • Stick timers. Special sticks which you drop like the ruler in the previous test. They have a computer built in which immediately shows you how fast you caught the stick after dropping it.
  • Light board reaction timers.
  • Reaction timer gadget. A simple button pushing test. You get a stimulus and you have to push a button as fast as possible.
  • Groningen reaction time test.
  • Batak reaction board test.

Training your reaction time

The most important thing to remember when trying to improve your reaction time is to use your new skill as much as possible in sports where reaction time is crucial. Such sports are basketball, soccer, hockey, volleyball and tennis.

Some of the best exercises to practice reaction time are:

  • Wave drills and one on one drills in basketball.
  • Training the starting drill in swimming. Jumping off the block in time is crucial and should be repeated often.
  • Doing rapid fire volley drills in tennis. Chasing a fast ball is extremely beneficial when trying to improve your reaction time.
  • Goal defending drills and one on one defensive drills in hockey make you react faster to the stimulus of the attacking athlete.
  • Smash return drills in badminton.
  • Volleyball drills such as digging, rolling, blocking drills and sprawling.
  • Football drills where players drop to the ground and return to the starting position.

You have to remember to train endurance, balance and strength at the same time as improving your reaction time. Reaction time depends highly on the result you can produce with it. You might react quickly to a ball coming at you, but you need the strength to catch it, the balance to avoid the opposition and the endurance to keep playing and reacting.

Reaction time is also a matter of the mind. You mind have good inherent or trained reactions, yet lose out to other athletes because you can’t keep your head on straight. Learning not to think of other matters while training and focusing on the task at hand are skills that need to be trained as well. Remember that reaction time is just as much a matter of the mind as it is of the body. A clear head and an alert body will give you the maximum of your ability to react quickly to stimuli.


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