Volleyball Reaction Time: Are you a Scott Sterling?

If you are a fan of volleyball and YouTube I’m sure you have seen the Scott Sterling volleyball video.

As great as Scott is as returning kills with his face, most players would prefer to have a fast enough reaction time to return it with their hands. So how fast do you need to be?

So here is clip from a Junior Varisty Provincials game.

As you can see this spike is traveling at almost 80km/hr which leaves the player 290ms to react so that he doesn’t get “Scott Sterlinged”. In this time the player must decide the direction and speed of the ball, decide if it is in or out, decide how he will react to play the ball and then react. Not much time.

Two important take home messages for volleyball players here:

1. Train reaction time: just like any other sport skill, you can train reaction time. Train you body and brain to react that millisecond faster.
2. Muscle memory: While it is one thing to get your hands up in time, it’s another to get them in a position that actually makes a play. If you watch to then end of this clip you will notice that this player gets returns the spike back into play and they actually win the point. This was not an accident…hundreds of reps has trained this player how and where to place his hands so that he doesn’t have to think about that, the brain just knows; novice players would like be hit in the face or have the hit deflect out of play because their brain was thinking about how and where they should move to.

Michael Nelson, OD
EyeGym Canada