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3 Drills to Improve Your Reaction Time

Brand X Picture / Stockbyte / Thinkstock

An athlete’s reaction to a stimulus—like a sprinter’s response to the starting gun—is an inherent ability to ignite dynamic action. But that organic movement involves a variety of outside influences, including practice, experience, anticipation, strength, and coordination. Each athlete has a built-in, limited time range to react, but there is plenty of room for improvement. To do just that, try incorporating the agility and speed exercises below into your training regimen.

“Providing a strong foundation of skill with pre-programmed movements is key,” says Craig Freidman, vice president of the Performance Innovation team at EXOS.

That’s because such training will provide you with the confidence and ability to put you body in the right positions to take advantage of split-second situations on the playing field. Adds Mark Verstegen, founder of EXOS, “A person can have great reaction time, but it doesn’t help if his or her body can’t do anything about the stimulus.”

4-Cone Agility Drill

  1. Place four cones on the ground so that they form a square, 3 to 5 yards long on each side.
  2. Have your training partner randomly point to cones, moving as quickly as possible to them.
  3. As soon as a different cone is indicated, change direction accordingly regardless of whether or not the previous cone was reached.
  4. Utilize proper cutting angles, acceleration, crossover, and shuffling skills.

Mirror Drill

  1. Place two cones 10 to 15 yards apart.
  2. Stand between the cones, facing your workout partner.
  3. One partner moves randomly between cones as the other mimics their movement as if they were a mirror image. Go for a predetermined amount of time.
  4. Utilize crossover, acceleration, and shuffle to cover ground. Don't turn your back to your partner, and keep your knees behind your toes and tension in your glutes.
  5. Decrease time for speed emphasis or increase time for conditioning emphasis.

Chute Run

  1. Stagger seven cones 5 yards apart, 3 to 5 yards front to back, into a “chute” pattern.
  2. Crossover and sprint to the first cone, decelerating and crossing over and sprinting to the next cone. Repeat for the remainder of the cones.
  3. Accelerate with perfect posture and lean, driving your feet down and back.
  4. Decelerate by dropping your hips back and down, keeping your feet apart, and taking small steps until change of direction. Don't jump into cuts.

Tags: Sports Performance, Reaction