Sports training often centers on improving explosive strength and speed, since they help an athlete beat out an opponent or win a race to a ball. Quickness, however, is not just about the muscles’ ability to propel the body. It’s also mental. The mind’s ability to react and signal the muscles can provide a split-second advantage that might mean the difference between success and failure.
To improve reaction time, you must challenge your mind to identify a stimulus and react as quickly as possible. This can be accomplished by performing drills that force you to react to a sudden starting signal—similar to a track race or a football snap.
Other reaction drills involve responding to a coach’s signal to change direction, as in AJ Hawk’s Resisted Reaction Series [see videos above]. This drill helps athletes react to plays like a forward pass in football, a ground ball in baseball and a serve in tennis.