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).
Researchers in France performed a study that proves reaction time is a skill that can be improved and/or learned. The study looked at world class sprinters' reaction times. The main findings were these:
1. Reaction times were quicker as the races shortened (from 400m to 60m).
2. Sprinters in shorter races (60m to 100m) anticipated the starter's gun while runners in longer distance races where happy to respond to the sound of the gun shot.
Experience playing collegiate athletics proved to me that reaction time is critical. Athletes should devote more time to reaction drills in practice. Athletes continue to get faster and faster and the margin of error continues to decrease. If you react quicker than your opponent, it could mean the difference in making the play or getting beat.
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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