Reflex Actions vs Reaction Time in Sports- What’s the Difference?

Reaction time training has been getting a lot of attention in various sports categories lately. It’s generally accepted that quick reaction time is a vital skill that all athletes need to improve continuously. But what exactly is reaction in sports, and what should you know about training reaction time?

To grasp the concept of reaction time, it’s necessary that we first differentiate Reflex action and Reaction as this is where everything else stems from.

Reflex actions refer to rapid involuntary responses to stimuli meant to minimize damage to the body. These actions are controlled by the reflex arc and don’t directly involve the brain. In other words, they are not subject to conscious thought. An example of a reflex action is sudden blinking when an insect gets too close to the eye or sneezing due to irritants in your nasal cavity.

On the other hand, a reaction refers to a voluntary response to a stimulus. Unlike reflex actions, reactions are controlled by the brain. By adding the brain into the pathway, a reaction becomes a much slower process than a reflex, which is instantaneous. A sports-related example of a reaction is when a tennis player is responding to a serve. The player may decide to either return the ball or let it pass if he/she thinks that the ball will hit outside.  

This takes us to 2 other crucial concepts; reaction time and response time. Based on the previous explanations, reaction time in sports refers to how fast an athlete reacts to an external stimulus. Closely related to this is response time, which denotes how fast the athlete completes the necessary action.

Generally, an athlete who reacts quickly will respond faster to beat an opponent. Reaction time is dependent on perception, processing, and response. It’s measured using the light board reaction test. This test involves standing in front of a reaction time board and putting out as many lights as possible within a given amount of time.

The Blazepod reaction speed trainer is an effective system if you want to boost your client’s reaction time. The primary benefit of this kit (consists of Blazepod App and pods) is that it packs reaction time trainer exercises specific to particular sports ranging from racquet games to combat sports.

Take it from the experts

Jamal Liggin

Owner of JLT Performance Gym

"Reaction and reaction time are the main pillars of training athletes. BlazePod is the best way to challenge your athletes' reaction, especially at the end of a long session. This is a vital element of being a pro athlete and BlazePod helps my athletes grow with each session."

Kostas Chatzichristos

Head of Performance, CSKA Moscow

"Reaction training was always an integral part of our movement training. I love the variation, training options and ease of use that BlazePod provides during our session. One of our most-used training tool"

John Achterberg

Liverpool FC GK Coach

"Top-tier athletes train not just to build muscle, but also to increase hand-eye coordination and reflex speed. BlazePod can do all three at once."

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Train on neural priming and spatial awareness for faster, more accurate responses on the field.

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