CAT LIKE REFLEX TRAINING METHODS
It can go with out saying that whatever your sport, improved reaction time & response time a.k.a. reflex speed will be vital. Any & even the slightest improvements in this skill can have astonishing results on your game. Think about it for a moment even if you could shoot, move, and jump like MJ youd still be at his mercy if you didnt have his eyes. Meaning react unexpectedly, see defenders before they move, & beat the head fakes. Again this carries over to most every sport imaginable. Take the boxer, his whole game, the entire fight is react as fast as possible before your opponent does & dont get faked out!
Before we get started I want to clarify a couple things. There are 3 phases of speed. 1) Reaction time: This is the perception of an attack, or rather the interval between stimulus and the beginning of response. 2) Response time: This is the time it takes to choose an appropriate response to the initiation of the actual movement. 3) And finally, movement-speed. Quite simply how quick your counter punch is or how fast your body moves getting out of the way of trouble, etc. You will notice some of these examples seem geared more towards martial artist and their methods of training but not to worry youll also see how they can be adapted to any sport.
REACTION AND RECOGNITION
Woods Running: I cant think of an easier drill to start doing that requires no training partners or equipment for enhancing coordination & reflex speed. All that is needed is a little bit of nature, so go to a local park with a batch of thick untamed woods, shrubs, ditches, canals and other natural obstacles. What makes this a Grand exercise is that you have to react with your body in very unpredictable ways, uneven footing, while making cuts, ducks, jumps, bobs, & shuffling of the feet. The key to a successful session is RUN FAST! Yes the faster you run the harder adapting will be. Interestingly enough your mind will be so preoccupied with this live video game that you wont even notice how winded your getting! You can make this drill harder in a couple simple ways. 1) Try putting on an eye patch. This creates a major deficit in depth perception. 2) Try this wearing sunglasses, giving you less distance vision in a shady wooded area. 3) Simply add ankle weights, that will throw off your innate sense of timing.
Dodge Ball: "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball"-Patches OHoulihan. And if you can dodge a dodgeball the way Im going to challenge you to, youll evade anything thats slower than a bullet! So to start you need a partner to be a thrower. You can switch up to make it fun & interesting for both of you. Begin at about 10 apart and use a soft rubber or foam ball. Start slow, then as you get better have the pitcher increase his velocity & get closer. Heres a short list of some variables you should use to continually make dodgeball more challenging & fun. 1) Use multiple throwers. 2) Start with eyes closed and have the pitcher cue you before he throws. 3) Thrower can disguise his toss with "feints". 4) Color code balls: Red ball = catch, blue = dodge, green = strike. These force you to recognize as well as react.
Solo Wall Bounce: Stand in front of a wall with any kind of ball that bounces. Throw and catch. Make this more difficult by: increasing your velocity, standing closer to the wall, progressing to smaller balls, switching catch/throw hands, and starting facing away from the wall, throwing the ball over your shoulder then turning around at the sound of it hitting the wall. Jump USA sells a "reaction" ball that looks like an odd, uneven bouncing ball that can go in any given direction. These sell for about $10. Pick one up after youve mastered my previous methods of bouncing!
Once youve learned how to appropriately identify stimulus and speed up the recognition, or need to do something, the next phase of training deals with programming your nervous system with a proper response. This will just as easily improve your overall speed. If you see things even before they happen what good is it if your body clumsily tries to move? You need to have a storehouse of nervous "memory" responses that are quick, smooth, & graceful.
Balloon Kicks: This exercise is mostly a coordination builder but it is so fun I had to throw it in. It will improve timing, accuracy and responsiveness quickly without seeming tedious at all. Blow up a balloon and go into a room that has numerous natural obstacles like chairs, stools, counters, & coffee tables. If youre so inclined, get some cones and small objects to clutter the floor. Now, start kicking the balloon with the purpose of not letting it touch the floor. Kick, kick, kick! If It drops you lose. Time your self to see how long you can last each session.
Side Shuffles: Here one your football & basketball coaches wish they knew. If you have access to a treadmill you will make agility leaps & bounds. You are certainly going to look ridiculous doing this but thats ok, my theory is the more embarrassing your training is the better it works! Hey I was training with jumpsoles back when they first hit the scene, before they were the commodity everyone knows them as. Now picture this skinny 17 year old Florida boy sprinting up and down blacktops in Giant horseshoe like strap-ons. Yeah I got funny looks! So will you. Anyway what you need to do is crank that machine up to 5mph to start and gallop if you will, sideways trying to gradually increase the speed to your limit. Switch sides. Next slow it back down to 5mph and try cross-stepping front & back. See what your threshold is in terms of mhp. Your objective is a slight increase each session. Final set is backpedaling. Better start slower than the 5, this ones harder. The treadmill is necessary because if forces a pace. Next time some ball hog tries to take you on a dribble hell have another thing coming!
VISUAL SPEED AND ACUITY
Video games: This is a perfect way to enhance response action, and visual perception all while having fun! You dont need to go out and purchase a $200 X-box, a simple Gameboy to carry around for the next time your waiting to renew your plates or visit the dentist s fine. Stay away from the Mrs. Pac-man that youve mastered ages ago. Try something new & challenging, change-up every other time you play to keep it unpredictable! I recommend 2 days a week for 30 minutes a little video gaming. Its training!
Peripheral driver: Not much need to go into the importance of side vision awareness & expansion, its usefulness carries over to every sports activity imaginable. You need to know if a potential defender or tackle is just out of your sight coming up the sides of your vision. Here is a great way to develop your P.V. while driving. Next time youre on the road try to be consciously aware when you catch a glimpse of a vehicle in the corner of your eye. Call out the color or make if you can. Gradually youll be noticing them much sooner. The real trick is jut remembering to practice it when you get in the car so my suggestion is to write it on the rear view with dry erase.
Eye accommodation: Or rather the ability for you eyes to quickly adjust from focusing on objects close to far. Rapid adjustments in depth perception, is a skill that can be developed quickly & easily. This will play a key role in how well you can respond. If a fist is flying at your face you need to be able to zoom in before you can gauge an appropriate counter move. Try these 2 simple drills once daily. Hold a pen out at arms length, now look across the room about 20 ft away. Shift your focus from a far object, then back to the pen several times quickly. Rest and repeat, changing the proximity of the pen (closer to your face) every couple of sets. This is known as shifting. The next drill is called figure 8s. Hold your thumb up at arms length & begin moving it in yes, figure 8s. While youre doing this also bring your thumb closer & further from the face a well as vary the speed at which your thumb moves every 10 seconds.
There I sctratched (meowch!) the surface of what can be done to start your transformation from slow to whoa! Let me close by saying a lot has to do with what your tying your brain up with at the moment. So put all those pesky thoughts away during your next game, & just BE THERE! Absorb yourself in your tactile senses just like a feline would!There's way more secrets i'll reveal another time like better drills, brain sharpeners, simple tricks to play, drills you can do while watching TV, and even supplements that can improve your reflex speed immediately! In the mean time give these examples a try a couple days a week & in as little as 2 weeks you will be quite impressed with the progress!