The Gifted One
- May 17, 2013
I like where you're getting at here and I agree with it. When I first started boxing, I felt like my reflexes weren't great. When a punch came, I'd be thinking about what's the correct way to defend. Then I'd have to think about which punch to counter with. It's almost like Goku's ultra instinct. That time it takes you to think about how to react slows you down.What are some of the myths about how great athletes achieve their extraordinary level of performance?
One of the big surprises for me was that pro athletes, particularly in baseball, don’t have faster reflexes on average than normal people do. I tested faster than Albert Pujols on a visual reaction test. He only finished in the 66thpercentile compared to a bunch of college students.
This question came up when I first saw [Olympic softball champion] Jennie Finch striking out Major League Baseball players. The pitches had the same transit time, and the ball was bigger, so why couldn’t these players come close to hitting her pitches? If they reacted fast enough, why couldn’t they do it? It turns out it’s not the reaction time that’s so important but learned perceptual skills that the MLB players don’t know they learned. Through practice, by picking up on body cues they can predict where the projectile is going, and when it will get there, long before it does. When they are stripped of these cues with a softball pitcher who has a different wind up, they become like you and I.
So this points to the fact that using things like pitching machines are good for warming up, but they are irrelevant for the skills that batters need to develop anticipatory skills. It’s not something I thought would have been a learned component, so it surprised me. I would have thought that all these guys tested off the charts for [fast] reflexes.
These fighters will drill for hours on how to counter a punch. When Mayweather sees a jab, his body naturally knows how to defend and counter it because he's done it thousands of times in training. Then your body has to actually be fast enough to respond even if you have quick reaction time.