A reflex is any rapid movement that occurs in response to a stimulus. A reflex happens so quickly that you complete the movement even before you realize you have moved. An example of a reflex is jerking your hand away from a hot flame. The movement is automatic to protect you from burning yourself. With practice, you can train your muscles to respond in a reflexive manner to stimulus and speed up the response time of automatic reflexes, such as automatically making an aerial save from a shot made at close range or quickly reacting to a rebound shot.
In this edition we have provided reflex training activities you can employ on your own to improve your reflexes
1) Reaction Ball
A reaction ball is a 6-sided small ball that bounces in unpredictable directions and will help to improve your hand-to-eye co-ordination, reaction, reflexes and quickness of hands and feet and feet. There are a variety of different exercises that you can do with this handy piece of equipment, but you would need somewhere spacious. These include:
- Drop & Catch – Drop the ball starting from around waist height, let it bounce once then catch it. Gradually increase the height as you improve.
- Ball Toss – From a split stance (a runner’s stance), throw the ball high up (around 2-3 metres), allow the ball to bounce once and then try to catch it.
- Wall Toss – Stand about 8-10 feet away from a solid wall. Throw the ball underhand against the wall, let it bounce once and then try to catch it using either one or both hands.
The best starting position for the drop & catch and wall toss is the athletic stance. You have to stand with your legs apart (just a bit further than shoulder length), hips back, knees bent and feet inline horizontally.
2) Elastic Head Ball
The elastic head ball is just a soft bouncy ball that’s attached to a head gear (snap back cap is fine) with an elastic cord. As far as I know, it doesn’t seem like you can purchase this piece of equipment. However, it took me about 20 minutes to make one, although it only lasted a few weeks due to a weak cord used.
You must hit it with straight punches consistently and after every hit on target, the ball accelerates so your reactions must be very sharp to catch it. This is great for improving your hand-to-eye co-ordination.
This is not a common training technique (not that I’ve seen anyway) but I first saw it when Kostya Tszyu used it during training.
3] Improve your peripheral vision
Having a quick reaction time is dependent on being aware of what’s coming. You can strengthen your ability to perceive player movement and quick ball movement changes which is important to reading the game by paying more attention to your peripheral vision during everyday acitivies.
Here are some activities to do.
- Look out a window that has a good view and focus your vision on a distant object. Keep looking at this object while you slowly let yourself become more aware of the objects that surround it on either side. Do this exercise once a day, widening your field of vision a little more each time. Gradually, you’ll get in the habit of noticing more objects in your peripheral vision.
- While taking a walk or riding in a car, make a point of noticing objects that pop up in your peripheral vision. Practice naming the color of people’s hair and the make and model of passing cars as fast as you can.
- Check out the video below for martial arts techniques used to improve peripheral vision.
4] Play video games.
Playing video games well requires good hand-eye coordination. You must be able to move from thought to action without pause or you’ll quickly lose the game. Studies show that playing video games for a few minutes each day can help improve reflexes. First person shooters and role-playing games often require the most coordination, but any video game will do the trick.
5] Nimble feet through speed skipping
How? Jump rope as fast as you can, bouncing – boxer-style.
For Perfect form focus on moving forearms and wrists for quicker skips.
Why speed skipping? This works your fast twitch fibres for speedier movement.
6] On the field
One excellent reflex training tool for coaches to use is the OBO Bobbla Ball. Because of its shape it produces unpredictable movements when thrown or hit that results in the goalkeeper having to respond accordingly. Best used when there is a short reaction time for the goalkeeper to make decisions.
The OBO Bobbla Ball can be purchased HERE