t’s all well and good being fit enough to last a match or fast enough to reach a ball but how often have you considered how quickly you react in the first place. By this I mean how long does it take from you seeing your opponent do something to the time you get your body moving in response.
For most people this can be as quick as 0.8 seconds but there is new evidence indicating that it may be possible to react even faster than this.
I feel reaction times can be broken down into the following 3 areas
- Identify what needs to be done
- trigger the response
- communicate this response
Basically the faster you do each of these three things, the better prepared you’ll be to respond to any challenge your opponent can throw at you.
1: Identify what needs to be done
Visual acuity is basically how good you are at understanding quickly what it is you’re seeing. it stands to reason that the better you are at interpreting what you see, the better you’ll be at using the info. This article on visual acuity and reaction times looks at the general debate and suggests methods from improving reaction times. While we focus here on the visual sense. I feel it’s reasonable to consider the same lessons will apply to other senses also.
2: Trigger the response
A previous article I wrote referred to research on monkeys that showed that specific movements could be triggered simply by stimulating certain parts of the brain. The previous point considered how quickly you could figure out what to do give what you can sense (see, feel, hear etc). This point is about how quickly you can trigger a response in the first place. It links to point 3 but just emphasises that our brains seem to trigger a pre-set series of responses. Therefore we need to know what to trigger in the first place and that depends on being clear about what we want to do.
3: Communicate this response
Another post on growing a super athlete puts forward a new finding on how we can speed up the bodies process of sending info around itself. Basically getting all the key players talking to each other much faster and with a much clearer voice. The better the communication between areas such as the brain, muscles, senses and reflexes. The faster everything can happen and the more coordinated it will be.
I really feel that it’s possible to improve all 3 of these areas and that many people neglect this aspect of their training, preferring to focus on diet, nutrition and physical fitness to achieve their best.
I’m really saying here that there are many more aspects to fitness than most people realise. You could ask
- Are your nerves fit enough?,
- Do you use your senses to their full potential?,
- Do you trigger the right response when you react?
Training these aspects is rare, however, if you look carefully you’ll notice that it’s exactly what all the legendary players do.