If you can drive, have you ever sat at a red light and then accelerate as soon as you see that green light appear?  I’m not saying you are playing the Fast & Furious with your car, just trying to get going as soon as you see that green.

Your acceleration will begin based on how good your reaction time is.  I’m not talking about how fast you will go down the street.  That is based on your horsepower.  I’m just saying the quicker your foot hits the accelerator, the quicker the car will BEGIN to move.

Reaction time is huge in sports.  The better your reaction time is the quicker you can hit a baseball pitch, get out of the blocks in track, or return a hard hitting tennis shot.

That being said, here are some good ways to train your reaction time:

  • A lot of times agility drills are started with an audible noise (a yell or a whistle). That will train reaction time, but you can vary it up.  Have them react to a visual cue such as pointing in one direction or another.  Or get behind them and tap them on the shoulder to start the drill.
  • Tennis ball drops are a great way to train reaction time. Stand about 10 feet away from an athlete with a tennis ball at shoulder height.  Drop the ball and the athlete has to catch the ball before it bounces twice.  If the athlete is successful, you can move further away.
  • Another great reaction drill is doing an agility drill, but instead of planning out the drill when the athlete changes direction or whatever, you yell out when to change direction. Meaning you have someone sprint forward until you yell switch.  Then you have them change direction, back pedal, whatever you want, but they have to be going full speed one way until you yell to switch directions.
  • There is a device called a reaction ball. It is a ball with little balls strategically placed on it to make it a goofy shape.  Throw it down on the ground and it bounces in unpredictable directions and speeds.
  • You could even do that same drill with the reaction ball and have the athlete turn his/her back to you. They are then just waiting to see when the ball is thrown over their head or to the side before they react.

There are endless drills that you could do similar to the ones above.  If you can mix in audible and visual reactions, you will help your athlete immensely for his/her sport.  Keep at it and your athlete’s reaction time will continue to improve over time.