The Best Upper- and Lower-Body Reflex Drills | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Upper- and Lower-Body Drills For Better Reflexes

January 14, 2013 | Z Altug

Must See Speed Videos

A misstep that leads to a missed tackle or a swing that's a second too late: in competition, a single second can be the difference between a win and a loss. Athletes need strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, agility and coordination; but on game day, it often comes down to who reacts quicker. (See Working on Reflex Reaction With NHL Goalie J.S. Giguere.)

"Reaction time " is the time between the starting point of an event and the beginning of your reaction to it.[1] In our daily lives, it's the time between when you see a car swerve in front of you and when you step on the brake or turn the steering wheel. In the sporting world, it's how fast you react to your tennis opponent hitting the ball, or the opposing pitcher throwing a baseball, or your opponent's move to the hoop or the goal line. (See also Three Ways to Increase Reaction Time.)

Improve your reaction time with the following reflex drills, and you'll never have to worry about coming up short against your competition.

Upper-Body Reflex Drills

Reaction Games

Old-school favorite games like table tennis, badminton and racquetball are great ways to develop eye-hand coordination and speed.

Quick Hands

Sit in a sturdy, straight-backed chair. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and keep your hands closed. As quick as you can, open and close your hands five to 10 times.

Partner Hand Taps

Just like in the playground back in the day. Sit in a sturdy, straight-backed chair and place your hands face down on your friend's palms. Your friend quickly tries to tap you on the back of your right or left hand before you can move your hand away. Your goal is to move your hand away before being tapped. The goal of the exercise is not to strike the hand hard but as quickly and lightly as possible.

Quick Hand Ruler Catch

Sit in a sturdy, straight-backed chair. Bend your right elbow to 90 degrees and space your index finger and thumb one inch apart. Have your friend hold a flat, 12-inch plastic or wood ruler vertically just above the top of your right index finger and thumb. Your friend drops the ruler one to three seconds after saying "get set." Your goal is to react as quickly as possible to the movement of the falling ruler and catch it. After several trials, compare how quickly you are reacting by seeing how many inches on the ruler it takes you to catch it. Repeat on the other side.

Juggling

Start with two small juggling balls (or any soft object) and work your way up to three or four. You get the picture.

Reaction Ball

Stand in athletic-ready position, hips and knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Your friend throws a reaction ball toward you, and you try to catch it by anticipating the direction of the bounce.

Bola Trainer

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one ball in your hand and throw the other ball (attached to elastic cord) away your body and catch it quickly. Use a variety of patterns of throwing and catching.

Lower-Body Reflex Drills

Reaction Games

Play games like dodgeball to improve coordination and speed.

Quick Feet

Sit in a sturdy, straight-backed chair with both feet on the floor. Straighten both legs at a 45-degree angle to the floor (or one leg if straightening both causes back pain) and point your toes away from you. As quickly as you can, bend your ankles in both directions five to 10 times.

Quick Move

Stand in the athletic-ready position. Have a friend call out right, left, front, or back, and you react by moving five yards in that direction. Then try it with only hand signals for each direction.

Laser Feet

Stand in athletic-ready position. A friend shines a laser on top of your right foot, then moves it to the right, left, or front of your foot. You have to quickly step on it and go back to ready position. Repeat on left side.

Lower Body Juggling

Use a Hacky Sack, Footbag or soccer ball so that your foot reacts to the various bounces.

Goalie Feet

Stand in athletic-ready position between cones spaced five feet apart. Have a friend quickly roll or bounce a tennis ball toward you from ten feet away. Try to stop the ball using only your legs.

Clock Feet

Stand in athletic-ready position in an open area with either 12 numbered cones or flat rubber discs around you like a clock. The distance away from you can vary from five to 10 feet. A friend calls out a number or shows you a number on a card, and you must react quickly to touch the correct cone or disc and return to starting position.

Reference

[1] American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010.

Z Altug
- Z Altug, PT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He co-authored the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle...
Z Altug
- Z Altug, PT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He co-authored the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle...
Must See
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,307,107
Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits
Views: 3,768,138
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,222,351

Featured Videos

Dwight Howard Ab Workout Views: 62,466
John Wall Elbow-to-Elbow Shooting Drill Views: 186,478
Elite Performance with Mike Boyle: Build Explosive Power With Contrast Training Views: 17,723
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Colby Lewis's Post-Game Band Splitter Routine
Views: 8,349,368
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,988,602
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,610
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,505
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,175,033

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

3 Biggest Myths About Soccer Speed

Increase Your Lacrosse Speed With Multi-Directional Exercises

Previewing the Fastest Draft Prospects of the 2015 NFL Combine

8 Speed Workout Tips to Get Faster

4 Powerful Band Agility Drills

Here's Why Andre Williams' Breakout Performance Was No Fluke

Get More Explosive Off the Line of Scrimmage Like DeSean Jackson

8 Positions to Lower Your 40-Yard-Dash Time

Improve Your Baseball Speed With This On-Field Workout

How to Improve Your Basketball Quickness in 5 Minutes

How to Train for Speed in Cold Weather

3 Speed Training Essentials You Must Develop to Get Faster

Get Faster With 'The .10 Second Difference' From EXOS

Build Sprint Speed Like an Olympian

The Speed Drill That Set Up DeSean Jackson's 64-Yard Touchdown

3 Simple Tips to Improve Your 40-Yard Dash

Speed Plyometrics to Help You Run Faster

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Track Sprints

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Treadmill Challenge

The Secret to Tom Brady's Newfound Speed

Improve Your Football 40 Time During the Season

The 5 Elements of a Successful Speed Training Program

Linear Speed Drills to Improve Athleticism

12-Week Off-Season Baseball Speed Workout

Get Faster With the Ultimate Stair Workout

STACK Challenge: 300-Yard Shuttle

Build Game-Breaking Speed With This Exercise

Ditch the Sprints. Here's How to Build True Sports Speed

3 Box Drills That Develop True Game Speed

Build Strength for Baseball and Softball Speed

Stability Training Can Improve Your Agility and Range of Motion

Get the Most Out of Foam Rolling

Sprint Faster With Speed Demons

10 Reasons Why You're Not Getting Faster

Improve Your Footwork to Improve Football Agility

Acceleration Drills to Increase Speed

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Multidirectional Run

3 Speed Workouts to Improve Your Top-End Sprints

The Off-Season Baseball Speed and Agility Workout Program

How to Safely Decelerate Faster

Skipping Drills: The Missing Link From Your Speed Workouts

Burn Your Competition with This Sprint Workout

Rev Up Your Sprint Training With These Complexes

5 Ways to Spice Up Your Ladder Drills

How to Build First-Step Quickness for Baseball and Softball

3 Speed Drills to Help You Sprint Faster and Lower Your 40 Time

5 Weight Room Speed Exercises You're Not Doing

Lengthen Your Stride for Maximum Speed