How do you improve your reaction time?
This is a fantastic question.
Let me first share a story about my client Vic. I have blogged about him before- he’s the one with a four level fusion in his back with the screws that look like the ones used to build my deck. As you might imagine, recovering from such a major surgery is quite a task.
Compounding this task is his desire to return to the dating world as he lost his wife of 50 years 5 years ago to cancer. Things like smoothly walking his date to her car and being able to sit through the symphony were high priorities for him.
How did we accomplish both?
At first, we mostly stuck to level ground with very low rises to build up his strength. We walked sideways, and backwards, and more sideways to get very critical hip muscles on board. His physical therapist had him step up on one step, and I noticed he had a death grip on the rail, which meant he was really pulling himself up rather than using his hip muscles to drive up onto the stair.
I pointed out that he couldn’t very well go out on a date, and if he had to ascend or descend stairs, push his lady friend out of the way so he could grab the rail.
That’s bad form. Not really second date material. 🙂
Here he is, standing above his nemesis.
So I announced we would practice walking up and down stairs without holding onto the railing in an effort to help his love life. I sneakily knew that the mere act of shifting his weight from one foot to lift the other to step one step down gave us some one foot balance work, loaded one hip at a time, and was really a great way to accomplish both. This all sounded like an easy enough plan.
Except his brain totally froze on him.
He stood at the top of the stairs, and twitched, and shifted, and broke into a sweat trying to figure out how to get down one step. This literally would go on for twenty minutes. I would be standing halfway down the staircase, trying to coach him through picking one foot up and stepping down. He said, “Why is this so hard?” I smiled and said, “It’s hard for everybody!”
Finally, we had a breakthrough. I had introduced him to Pandora and suddenly…
the Bee Gees came on. “Night Fever” no less. 🙂
(Who knew being a child of the 70’s would come in handy? I have a tendency to dance and wiggle to music most anywhere, and this was no exception.) I started dancing on the stairs, and invited him to do the same. I said, “Shift side to side with the beat of the music, and as you do, lift one foot slightly, THEN step down.”
Like magic, he started down the stairs. What happened? Do the Bee Gees have mystical power over people? 🙂
Coincidentally, Auburn University in Alabama was experimenting with a similar concept….
Move before you need to move or react.
The coaches have their softball team two foot hop in the air the moment the players hear the bat connect with the ball. Apparently, traditional baseball strategy is that two steps are to be taken as the batter connects with the ball, and this is an improvement on that concept. Watch their 2 1/2 minute video here:
All the Pro’s hop
I took the concept of moving before you need to move to the tennis court with my fiancée. Ian plays tons of tennis, two or three times a week, and I am no match for him.
However, when I tried hopping as I heard his racquet connect with the ball, I was able to return his serve or volley much more easily and frequently. Maybe you’ve watched the Australian Open, and seen the person receiving serve shifting from side to side on the baseline. Try it. It works.
There you have it! Your quick tip to improve your reaction time?
Move before you have to move!
Let me know what you think in the comments below or if you’ve used this concept in your own life.