Speed. Nearly universal across sport as the signifier of reaching a greater competitive level. But as the game gets faster so must the player.
As a coach, what is your approach to developing reaction time in an athlete?
Share your tips and best practices!
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Coach Mark Williams – Hockey – Toronto – 1 Year
“In Ice Hockey, the reaction time of the Centre during
face-offs can be crucial. One of the ways we improve reaction time is by
predetermining how the Centre will win the draw (tie up the opposing Centre,
drawing it back to the Defenders or giving it to the wings) in a given
situation in advance. This improves reaction time by eliminating any delay in
the Centre’s reaction by having to ‘choose’ a play. Another key element to a
Centre’s reaction time during a face-off is having them focus on the movement of
the Referee’s arm and hand as opposed to the puck. I.e. getting athletes to
focus on the correct stimuli can improve their reaction time.”
Coach Colin Walker – Volleyball –Ottawa – 30+ years
“We incorporate speed/ agility & quickness training into
our warm-up. We also develop drills that work on reaction time. Finally we
create games (low organized games and sport specific) to work on reaction time.
One that gets the most laughs and interest is Rock, Paper, Scissors. It is a
great game to trigger a visual cue transferred into an explosive physical
movement. Start with the simple RPS but the winner must turn and run to a
certain ‘home base’ before the loser touches them.”
Coach Pam Collett – Gymnastics – Metro West – 30 Years
“I break it down to improving technique and improving
strength … You can move through faster if you’re stronger … You can improve
reaction time if technique is great.”
Coach Craig Stead – Soccer – Ottawa – 10 Years
“We must look at their cognitive ability to read the game
and make the most appropriate decision. To do so, we must train in a way that
promotes decision making, in a reactionary way.”
Coach Patsy Pyke – Basketball / Soccer – Ottawa – 20
“In soccer a drill we have used in soccer is to have three
players with a ball and another player facing away about 10 feet away. On the
whistle the player facing away turns and the ball is passed from one of the
players to her. She must quickly trap the ball and pass back. She then faces
away again for the next pass. She doesn’t not know which of the players has the
ball or from the exact direction the pass may come so she has to react quickly
to receive and trap the ball.”
Coach Mike Miller – Soccer – Milton/Halton – 25+ Years
“Reaction time is about developing the ability to read the
visual cues right before an event occurs. It’s about recognizing patterns.
Goalkeepers can save difficult shots provided they can see the movements of the
player before they shoot, but if they are screened and the ball emerges in
flight from a group of bodies, the goalkeeper is beaten. Videotaping, or having
access to videotape footage, is useful, especially if it is a “body cam” image.
The footage can be played on a screen by the player and blanked out at the
critical instance. The player has to determine what happens next and then after
a few seconds, the rest of the image is played.”
Coach Jodi Gram – Basketball – Markham – 10 Years
“Apart from the work done in a purely conditioning context
that helps to build the technique and power necessary to react quickly from a
physical standpoint, I think there is a sport-sepcific component that is just
as important if you actually want to see reaction time transfer positively into
a competitive context. For example in basketball, we always need to train the
decision-making that goes along with reaction time; in other words, what visual
cue are you learning to read in different ways to connect your eyes (brain) and
muscles (body) together to react appropriately and quickly at the right time
and in the right way?”
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