Agility – Speed

  • September 01, 2014

Coach Responses

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 Years

“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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