Reaction time is the ability to respond quickly with proper posture and control to a stimulus such as sound or sight. In many instances, quickness is more important than straight ahead speed.
In many sports, maximum speed is rarely reached or needed, but explosive reaction is often necessary. Athletes can improve reaction times by training to make the right choices (choice reaction). Here are some examples:
1) A defensive back makes an interception because he reads the quarterbacks eyes/motions, reads the receiver's body moves, postions his body based on the receiver's actions and reacts to the thrown ball. These different stimuli could happen in any order. The most successful defensive backs anticipate, react quickly and explosively with proper posture and control.
2) One of the most important decisions a batter makes at the plate is to "go" or "no go" i.e., whether to swing the bat or not swing. The most successful hitters are able to wait longer and react quicker. This allows the batter to read the pitch (fastball, curve, etc.) and "go" or "no go". When facing a 90+ per hour fastball, there's not much time to react.
3) Reaction time drills should be done from an athletic stance, staggered stance, kneeling position, back-to-ball position, eyes-closed position, two-point stance, etc. to simulate game-time situations.
Reaction time and explosive quickness is an important part of overall speed training and the best athletes have this quality.
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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