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Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

Reaction Time

Olympic Trials and the Olympics bring some of the most tension filled moments in sports: that endlessly quiet wait on the blocks anticipating the signal. The start of every race depends on how fast the swimmer reacts. 

For analysis, we can break the start into two phases: reaction time and block time (the analysis will be almost identical for backstroke starts).

Reaction time: first movement of any kind after the signal. It is a tiny fraction of all races, but every fingernail counts in championships. Although false starts are less common in swimming than in track and field (whose shortest event is roughly half the time of the 50 free), you can’t discount the mental advantage in an evenly matched race. Further, relay disqualifications are not uncommon, even in big meets.

Block time: how long to get off the block. Block time is a measure of reaction time, start mechanics, and physical capacity. You can have the best reaction time in the field, but if your mechanics are poor, you could still be last in the water. Likewise, if you have great mechanics, the field may leave you behind if you react slowly. Block time is followed by flight time. 

For the complete post, please go HERE to Swimming Science.

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