Training Methods Increasing Speed Ability and Reaction Time
2. THE DURATION OF STIMULI like any other component of training has to be optimized. A minimum duration is considered to be the time required to accelerate to maximum speed If the duration of stimuli is too short and maximum speed is not reached, the only outcome is the improvement of the phase of acceleration but not optimal speed. Both the minimum and maximum duration of stimuli cannot be categorically specified although for sprinters a suggested range is 5-20 seconds. A much longer duration would enhance anaerobic endurance. As in any other component of training, the duration of speed training stimuli is individual, and necessitates a knowledge of the athlete’s abilities, especially his/her potential to maintain maximum speed. When, as a result of acquiring fatigue, maximum speed cannot be maintained, the exercise should stop.
Training methods to develop reaction time
Phase 1: at the signal of the coach, the athlete performs starts with maximum speed over a short distance (say 5 m). After each repetition the coach tells him/her the performance time.
Phase 2: as above, but the athlete has to estimate the performance time before the coach tells the exact time. In this manner, the athlete learns the perception of his/her reaction time and speed.
Phase 3: at this time the athlete has to perform starts in times previously decided. As a result, the athlete learns to direct his/her reaction time.
The improvement of reaction time depends very much on the athlete’s concentration, and to where his/her attention is focused. If the concentration is directed toward the movement to be performed rather than on the starting signal? then the athletes reaction time is shorter. The reaction time is also shorter if for a few tenths of a second prior to the start the muscles are, isometrically tense (i.e., press the feet against the starting blocks). And finally, reaction time depends also on the time lapse prior to the starting signal. Zatzyorski (1980) suggests that optimal time between the “get set” and the start itself is 1.5 seconds.
2. THE DEVELOPMENT OF COMPLEX (CHOICE) REACTION is achieved by the development of two abilities:
a. REACTION TO A MOVING OBJECT, which is typical for team sports and those involving two opponents. For instance, when a team mate passes the ball, the receiver has to: see the ball, perceive its direction and speed, select his/her plan of action and perform it. These four elements comprise the hidden reaction, which takes between 0.25-1.0 seconds (Zatzyorski, 1980). The longest period of time is required by the first element especially if the object is unexpectedly received by a player. The sensory time, the time necessary to perform the other three elements is much shorten 0.05 seconds. Consequently, during training the coach should stress mostly the first elements, the ability fo visualize the moving object. Various exercises where the ball (or actions in boxing, fencing, etc.) is sent toward the player from unexpected positions, directions, or at unexpected speeds, enhances the reaction to moving objects. Also, the use of various games, or playing in smaller areas than standard also improves the reaction to a moving object.
b. SELECTIVE REACTION, or selection of the appropriate motor response from a set of possible responses to the actions performed by partners and/or opponents or even as a result of a quick alteration of the performing environment. For instance, a boxer takes a defence stance, and chooses the best reaction to respond to his/her opponents’ actions. Similarity, a downhill skier selects the optimal posture according to the slope and snow. The development of selective reaction ought to be performed in a progressive manner. For instance, in boxing or wrestling, the athlete is first taught a standard reaction to a given technical element. As the athlete automizes the skill, he/her is taught a second variation of this standard reaction.
By now the athlete has to select which of the two~variations is more efficient at a given time. At a later phase, new elements are added so that he/she will know all the defence and counter-offence skills appropriate for a given action, and must select the most appropriate and effective one under various conditions. Zatzyorski (1980) implies that top class athletes react with the same speed for both simple and complex reactions. He suggests that each movement has two phases:
1. the isometric, or the phase when the muscle tone is high, equally distributed in the muscle, and ready to act.
2. the isotonic phase, when the actual movement, or reaction occurs. Often, top class athletes have such a good reaction that they react even before the opponents execute the second phase.