Reaction Time in Sprinters

Reference
T√łnnessen E, Haugen T, Shalfawi SA. Reaction Time Aspects of Elite Sprinters In Athletics World Championships. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jun 26. [Epub ahead of print]


Background
Reaction time is often gloried in the sport of swimming with minimal support, as no studies have correlated a quick reaction time with starting success.

However, in sprint events were champions are determined by hundredths of seconds, it is difficult claim a quick reaction time is insignificant.

Reaction time the time between a “sensory stimulus and subsequent behavioral response Tonnessen 2012)”.

This study examined and analyzed reaction times of 100 m sprints (running) from world championships.

What was done
Data was collected from 1319 sprinters in the age range 16 – 47 years, from world championships. A total of 1719 reaction times formed the basis of this investigation. These athletes were split into four groups:

  • Round 1 athletes
  • Round 2 athletes
  • Semifinalists
  • Finalists
Different variables (height, weight, etc.) were obtained from each participant analysis.

Results
There was a significant correlation between reaction time and 100 m running time for male and female. Male finalists had a substantially shorter reaction time compared to semifinalists from round 2 and round 1. The semifinalists had shorter reaction times compared to round 1 athletes.

In females, the round 1 athletes had significantly loner reaction times compared to finalists, semifinalists, and round 2 athletes. Semifinalists had a significantly shorter reaction time compared to round 2 athletes.

Males 26 – 29 years had the quickest reaction times. Females under 19 had a slower reaction time compared to those greater than 30 years old.

No correlations were noted between height.

Discussion
The top 10th percentile of reaction times was approximately 0.02 s faster than the average. Males had a significantly shorter reaction time compared to females, likely due to genetics.

Practical Implication
The difference for the top 10th percentile of runners is only 0.02 seconds. In swimming, where biomechanics play a more significant role, it is likely reaction time plays even less of a role. Therefore, start entry is deemed more important for starting success. Moreover, the duration of the 100 meter run is much shorter compared to any swimming event, making 0.02 more significant.

Related Reading

Swimming Science Research Review 
This is a piece of the July Swimming Science Research Review. Read Swimming Science Research Review August 2012 for a complete list of the articles reviewed.

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