7 Sports That Need Quick Reaction Times

March 20, 2016

An athlete’s reaction time can, in many cases, mean the difference between who wins or loses a game. If an athlete is able to react quicker than their opponent on critical game changing plays, then their odds of defeating the opponent are greatly increased. Though most sports require a certain degree of quick reaction time, some sports are more heavily dependent on this factor than others. Additionally, in some sports, there are certain positions that require faster reaction times than others. This makes the ability to respond quickly to a stimulus a trait that most all professional athletes must harbor, where it is therefore more critical to some than others.

Reaction time to a stimulus is something that can be difficult to train for, but is an area in most all sports that requires attention. Conditioning the brain to react in a reflexive manner to certain stimuli is an imperative skill necessary for many positions in professional sports. Take for instance a hockey goalie, who arguably has one of the most difficult jobs on the planet – stopping a frozen six-ounce puck traveling directly toward them at speeds in the excess of 100 mph, all while wearing 50 pounds of equipment. Try reacting quickly under those conditions. Or what about tennis, where it is imperative that the players are able to anticipate their opponent’s next move requiring their mind and their body to function independently, yet cohesively.

There is no denying the fact that reaction time is a crucial part of many sports, but what sports is it most important in? Here are the top 7 sports that require the highest reaction speeds:

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 17: Roger Federer of Switzerland prepares to receive serve in his second round match against Nikolay Davydenko of Russia during day four of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Tennis - The average serve can travel in the excess of 120 mph.

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 23: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a home run against the Oakland Athletics during the fifth inning at Coliseum on July 23, 2015 in Oakland, California. The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Oakland Athletics 5-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Baseball - Some pitches are thrown at 105 mph.


Hockey - Pucks travel at speeds on average of 90+ mph toward the goal.


Table Tennis - A professional table tennis serve can reach speeds of 90 mph.


Soccer – The goalie has on average 0.3 seconds to react to a penalty kick.


Boxing – Anticipating and reacting to the opponent’s efforts is a critical skill necessary to staying on one’s feet.


Motorsports – When you are traveling 200 mph in a race car, reaction speeds become quite critical to the driver’s safety.

There are many factors that come into play in determining an athlete’s reaction speed time, each playing a critical role in how quickly the athlete is able to react. Some of these factors include the athlete’s size (as in weight and height), their age, certain cognitive abilities, their training, and their sex. Every athlete is independently unique in that the way in which they improve their reaction speed times will vary, but one training method remains consistent across the board and that is cognitive training. Strength training the mind plays a vital role in the development of skills and reaction speed capabilities necessary for athletes to maintain a competitive advantage over the opposing team and players.

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