Reaction time: The interval of time between the onset of a signal or cue, often called the stimulus, and the initiation of a response. It is the amount of time it takes the brain to recognize what to do, combined with the time it takes for the muscles to start to move for the shot.
Movement time: The time interval between the initiation and completion of a movement required in a response. It is the amount of time it takes for the muscles to complete the movement required to address the oncoming shot.
Response time: The total time interval comprising both reaction time and movement time.
An example of how these three variables can be applied to tennis is as follows. A player is standing on the baseline after hitting a backhand that travels to the opponent, landing on the opponent’s service line. As the opponent moves forward to retrieve the shot, the player notices visually that the racquet face of his opponent is opening, having the technical qualities required for a drop shot. The player immediately begins running forward to retrieve the drop shot, reaches the ball just before its second bounce, and hits a winner down the line deep into the opponent’s backcourt.
- In this example, the reaction time was the period from the visual cue or recognition of a drop shot to the initiation of forward movement toward the ball.
- The movement time was the period between the initiation of forward movement and the completion of the return shot for a winner.
- The response time was comprised of both the reaction time and the movement time required to complete this exchange