Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reaction Time: It Takes a Village

I've been researching this for a while, and I realized that I should be asking you guys as well.

Eli 13.6 is a remarkable goalie for a kid his age. Terrific technique, super athleticism and agility, mentally tough--he's more as an athlete than I've ever been in my entire life.

And he works.

I've never seen a kid work so hard, and so intelligently. And I want to help him.

Athletically, I know how to help. He's doing some amazing dry land workouts to improve his athleticism, and his tennis is off the charts now (he hits the ball harder than I do, and I'm a solid player).

There's one piece, though, that would put him over the top and legitimately give him a chance to reach his goals.

Reaction time.

Average reaction time is in the 250ms range. Top goalies are much lower. And reaction time directly translates to more saves.

If I can find a way to help  him lower his reaction time by even 5%, it would be important. 10% would be huge.

The problem, though, is that there isn't much solid research into improving reaction time.

I think what I call the "overload" technique is established, but I can't find anything else. Overload is basically a technique where you practice an activity at higher speed than you would in competition. So, in this case, Eli would be seeing shots at a higher velocity than he'd ever see in a game, and over time, the brain rewires itself to accommodate the higher speeds.

There's another way to produce overload, and that's with strobe glasses. Basically, the glasses remove visual information at intervals by flashing from transparent to opaque (for example purposes, think of a film running at 24fps where every 4th frame is black, for example). So the brain has to calculate trajectory, speed, etc., with less information than it normally has.

So that's overload by addition (overspeed) and subtraction (removing information).

Those are both interesting techniques, but if there's anything else out there, I'd really like to know about it. So if you're aware of other research or methods, please let me know. Thanks.

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