Improve Your Reactions

Reaction time is an ability often overlooked in Martial Arts. It simply means how fast an athlete is able to respond to a stimulus. Whether it is dodging a punch or reacting to that padding coming up and kicking it straight away, reactions are essential. You can be as strong, fit, flexible and fast as possible, but if you have slow reactions then everything else is going to waste. Quick reaction time is required in almost all sports and in everyday life. And the good news is, it’s a strength that can be improved.

1: Catch
For improving your reaction time and especially the speed and accuracy of your hands: this is a great way to work your athletic skills and reflexes at the same time. Catching tennis balls is technique used by many competitors – such as Anthony Joshua – to improve your speed and reactions. Have a friend throw balls at you in quick succession and attempt to catch them all. There are specialised ‘reaction’ balls out there that bounce sporadically on the floor and thus engage your reactions – however often similar results can be found be found with odd shaped balls such as rugby balls.

2: Explosive Training
Exercises where your muscle exert maximum force in a short period of time helps improve your ability to react. Exercises such as weight lifting – squats, deadlifts, bench press and shoulder press – all help to increase power and help you improve your explosive strength. With this explosive strength you will find your body can react quicker to stimuli and thus act fast when your mind recognises a need to do so.

3: React to Signals
A great way to improve your reactions is by physically reacting to signals. An example of this is waiting for the “go” to start a sprint. This act tests your bodyiss ability to react to command and engage your muscles – which in turns improves your reactions. Practice sprints or just keep practicing pads and try to respond as quickly as possible to what is being asked. Your body will learn to process stimuli in a faster way and will adopt this ability in your daily life.

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