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Thinks Too Much

Football player performing a drill

Making split-second decisions in athletics is a game changer.  The reaction time is crucial.  The reaction time may be defined simply as the time between a stimulus and a response.  Hick’s law states increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically.  A scientific law means that a particular phenomenon always occurs if ‘certain conditions’ are present.  Coaching and practice are to change the ‘certain conditions’.

Condensing information into a single dominant name, providing knowledge of what may occur, learning an opponent’s tendencies, repetition and practice are some of the ways that are used to reduce reaction time.

Rogers Athletic Quick Snap

Response is crucial and reducing the number of choices elicits a quicker reaction time.  This causes many to assume that to respond one must always think faster.  Recently published in the ScIence Journal, eLife, “Reaction times can reflect habits rather than computations.”  The researchers state, “This suggests that the reaction time did not always reflect how long it took to prepare a response, but was influenced by prior experience.”

Practicing repetitively even the simplest of tasks year after year is fundamental to the game and changes the speed in which it is played. Coaches have adopted phrases when athletes don’t react the way they want in practice or a game and remark, ” He is thinking too much!” or instruct, “Just play.”  Coaches have figured out without the evidence of scientific research  how habits and computations affect reaction time.

A NFL Reactive Drill For Evaluating Athletic Ability


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