Title the Effects of Sports Training on Reaction Time

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Reaction time (RT) is considered to be important factor in many aspects of life in day-to-day activities such as driving and sports. Simple reaction time (SRT) can be considered as the time taken between an action and single stimulus, whereas choice reaction time (CRT) can be considered the lapse of time taken between multiple stimulus and subsequent end of an action which require a choice from the individual (Riesesel & Mahoney, 2013). RT has been deeply investigated within psychological studies with researchers being primarily concerned with have factors can influence an individual’s RT.

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Furthermore, improvements to an individual’s RT can come through training and experience in a particular area, such as being an athlete. Athletes have been considered to have a shorter RT in comparison to non-athletes, with a general consensus of the more athletic an individual is, the shorter or faster their RT will be. Throughout recent years there has been numerous studies that have aimed to illustrated the link between shorter RT in athletes in comparison to non-athletes.

Allard and Starkes (1980) investigated this link by conducting a study that compared speed and accuracy performance tasks in volleyball players and non-volleyball players in both in-game and non-game situations. Findings showed that the volleyball players were significantly faster in their response for both situations, although the accuracy of said response did not differ between groups. These findings suggest that perceptual skill of visually searching is significantly greater in the athletes (Allard & Starkes, 1980).

Further studies which investigated RT in relation to athleticism suggested that individuals in specific characteristic categories such as, positions played and number of hours spent training who had partaken in physical exercise for a short period of time would have a significant reduction in RT against those who had not partaken (Junge et al., 2000).

Research has also examined the correlation between sport expertise and sport- specific decision making with an SRT Go/No-go study involving basketball players, baseball players and non-athletes, where findings suggested that RT in athletes was again, significantly shorter than the non-athletes. Although, RT in baseball players varied significantly dependant on their experience in the sport, whereas basketball players did not (Nakamoto & Mori, 2008).

Therefore, there is strong prior studies that support the consensus of sport specific athletes having a better RT time than non-athletes through regular training and experience in the sport. Although, they allude the importance of hand eye co-ordination and the correlation to RT speeds and how specific athletes such as tennis players are able to engage in a stimulus that requires them to follow a ball travelling up to speeds of 70+ mph, while reacting in time to stay engaged in the game, with minimal studies conducted that have investigated this importance. 

Thus, further research is needed to extend the literature and knowledge about hand eye co-ordination and RT in athletes in comparison to non-athletes. This experimental study will investigate how individuals that partake regular sport exercise will have an effect on RT in comparison to those who do not. One directional hypothesis will be tested within, how individuals who play tennis regularly (minimum of three times per week) will have a significantly faster reaction time to those who do not.

This study will use an experimental design with a between participant method, with an independent variable (IV) being the regularity of sports being played (three or more times a week with a minimum for one hour per session vs no sports at all). The dependent variable (DV) being measured was the participants’ average score over the five recorded runs.

A volunteer sample of Nottingham Trent/University of Nottingham students (N = 50) will be recruited. The sample will include 25 males and 25 females aged between 18-23 years old which will be recruited through chain sampling. Participants that partake in sports 1-2 times a week or for less time than the required sessions will be excluded from this study.

A questionnaire prior to the study will be used to determine cofounding variables with 10 questions such as; age, preferred hand, alcohol intake per week and years playing sports. Additionally, a BATAK light board using the accumulator routine will be used to assess the participants’ RT. The routine used will consist of the participant hitting out as many lights as possible within a 30 second time period, the lights are lit in a random order where the participant must strike out the indicated light before the continuing to the next. The average of the participants five recorded runs will be taken to determine an overall measurement of the participants’ RT, where a higher average score will indicate faster reaction time.

Before their arrival participants will be presented with the questionnaire (See appendix A) to complete. Additionally, prior to the night before the study is conducted contact will be made with the participants via email requesting them not to consume any alcohol/caffeine and suggest eating an appropriate breakfast on the day of the study. Upon their arrival at the laboratory, the participants will be presented with an information sheet (See appendix B) regarding the study and what will be required of them, including a Consent Form (See appendix C) highlighting the appropriate areas of the British Psychological Society (BPS). 

Afterwards the participants will be allocated to their required group (play sports three time a week or no sports). Participants will then be introduced to the BATAK reaction board and be informed about how to correctly use the board (See appendix D). Participants will then be allocated one unrecorded trial run to serve as a warm up and then proceeded to complete the five recorded attempts with a short break in between to recuperate their energy. Upon completion the participants will be thanked for their contribution and adequately debriefed (See appendix E). Participant scores will not be disclosed unless asked. 

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