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Young boy swimming butterfly stroke for school sports.

At-Home Reaction Training for Youth Athletes

When heads turn on a football field for a one-handed catch, or a goal is perfectly placed in the upper-ninety from twenty meters away in a soccer game, fans remember the athlete’s name. These all-time great players are incredible athletes. What separates them from the competition is their ability to see players around them, see their goal, and react in as little time as possible.

Researchers have discovered a few ways to decrease reaction times in field hockey athletes without on-field practice. These techniques can apply to athletes of any age or sport.

One easy activity to increase reaction time and field vision involves colored sticky-notes (or paper and tape), flashcards, and a white wall. Place twenty sticky notes of random colors around the wall in a three- or six-foot area. Write one number on each sticky note and write the corresponding number and color on each flashcard. Have someone read off the number or color from the flashcard while you find the matching sticky note on wall. Alternate between finding them with your eyes and touching with your hands. Go through your flashcards three to five times per session while altering sticky note placement and shuffling the cards.

Another way to create a reaction exercise is to cut a piece of paper into a circle, write all of the letters of the alphabet around circle in random order and write words on flashcards (or have a partner give you words). Spell the words as quickly as possible by finding letters of the word around the circle and touching the letters in order.

The carry-over from reaction time to sports performance is clear. Being able to react quickly has benefits in nearly all sports. For example, in swimming it can help you get off the blocks sooner and in football it can help you read a play better. Reaction time can also improve safety. Being able to read a situation quickly can help an athlete avoid collisions.

There are a multitude of ways you can improve reaction time. These activities are just a few examples. Completing activities like these several times a week will help to improve your reaction time and help any athlete be better prepared for their return to the field.

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About CHKD Sports Medicine

About CHKD Sports Medicine  CHKD's sports medicine program offers the most comprehensive care for your young athlete. From diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans, we specialize in physical therapy and injury prevention programs for active children and teens. Our team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists.