The reaction times required in various professional sports are often of the order of a fraction of a second. To be successful, top-level sportsmen have to train for hours on end day in day out. That’s what ultimately enables them to not only react in time, but more importantly react in a productive manner.
In this article, we take a look at the reaction times required in some of the most reflexively demanding sporting roles. How fast do you need to be to face a Nolan Ryan fastball? Or return an Andy Roddick first serve? Or bat against Shoaib Akhtar running in full steam?
Think you have the reactions to succeed in these sports? You can test your reaction times here.
Reaction Time Hitting a Fastball In Baseball
Most elite baseball pitchers can regularly throw a fastball at over 90 mph. A 90 mph pitch gives the batter a reaction time of roughly 0.458 seconds to not just react, but also gauge the spin and trajectory of the ball, get his stride towards the ball, and then swing and hopefully make a good enough contact with the ball. Nolan Ryan regularly clocked over a 100 mph with his fastballs. A 100 mph pitch would bring down the required reaction time to 0.413 seconds.
The fastest pitch ever recorded in Major League Baseball was thrown by Aroldis Chapman at 105.1 mph. This would give the facing batter a reaction time of a mere 0.391 seconds.
Reaction Time Returning Serve In Tennis
An average first serve in men’s tennis is approximately 113-115 mph, which gives a returner with a standard return position 0.47 seconds to react and come up with the return. The fastest serve ever recorded was at 163.7 mph by Australian Sam Groth. This brings the necessary reaction time down to 0.325 seconds.
On the women’s side, the fastest ever recorded serve was clocked at 131 mph by Sabine Lisicki. This would give her opponent approximately 0.41 seconds to react.
Reaction Time Facing A Fast Bowler In Cricket
A cricket pitch is 22 yards in length, which is 20.12 meters. The popping crease is 1.22 meters from the stumps, which makes the effective distance between the bowler and the batsman approximately 17.68 meters. From that distance, many fast bowlers regularly hurl the ball at over 140 Kmph(or 87 mph). A ball bowled at 140 Kmph would give the batsman roughly 0.455 seconds to react.
The fastest bowlers like Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar often bowled at over 150 Kmph. This would give the batsman less than 0.424 seconds to react. Shoaib Akhtar bowled the fastest delivery of all time at 161.3 Kmph. That gives the batsman 0.395 seconds to react.