Good reflexes are crucial to any sport. Reacting quicker than an opponent can be the difference between success and failure. A tennis player must return serves in excess of 100mph, batsmen in cricket or baseball regularly face similar speeds, and the first sprinter off the blocks after the starting gun has an immediate advantage.
In some sports good reflexes can mean even more than winning or losing. Boxers dodge lightning quick and powerful punches, while for Formula 1 drivers quick reactions can help prevent potentially fatal accidents.
If a reflex is "an action that is performed without conscious thought as a response to a stimulus", then how can we train to improve them?
It is possible to hone our reflexes and condition the brain to react quickly to certain conditions. Football goalkeepers require some of the fastest reactions in the sporting world. Guarding an eight-yard wide goal against powerful shots, often from a matter of yards, is extremely difficult, as anyone who has tried will know.
In last week's otherwise dull Premier League encounter between rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, David De Gea pulled off an incredible save with his feet from point-blank range, highlighting why a keeper's reflexes are so crucial.
Goalkeepers have many bizarre and intriguing ways of improving their reflexes. Recently, a video surfaced of veteran Petr Cech, currently of Arsenal and formerly of Chelsea, working on his reactions. The legendary Czech stopper, winner of four Premier Leagues, five FA Cups, a Champions League and a Europa League, was made to tap colour-coded cones before catching table tennis balls fired at him, with next to no time between shots. He succeeds every time.
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