The Ultimate Guide to Improving Reaction Time
Picture this: You are one of the last characters standing in the Battle Royale, Apex Legend. The only thing standing between you and winning is one opponent.
With utmost caution, you parkour across the roof looking for positional advantage. As you set yourself up, you catch a slight movement of your opponent, quickly raise your gun but before you could pull the trigger, “BOOM” you’re dead!
Sucks, right? That’s what happens when your reaction time in video games is slow.
On the bright side, reaction time is something you can improve, and in this article, we’ll show you how to improve your reflexes and reaction time. We’re also working on a reaction time test tool you can use to track your progress.
What is Reaction Time?
Before we look at how to improve reaction time, what exactly is reaction time? Also known as response time, reaction time is the voluntary and purposeful response to an external stimulus. It is how quickly an organism (in this case, you) responds to external stimuli. It is a complex process but often happens within a fraction of a second. Here are the three main types of reaction time:
- Simple reaction time: This involves reactions to only one stimulus. This type of reaction is typically very quick. An example of a simple reaction time is when athletes respond to the starting pistol during a sprint.
- Complex reaction time: Also known as a choice, this type of reaction time involves a variety of stimuli and responses. Since it involves processing a lot of information at once, a complex reaction time takes slightly longer. An example of a complex reaction time is when a soccer player has to keep up with the ball movement, as well as the movement of other players.
- Recognition reaction time: Also known as the selection, this involves various stimuli and responses – just like complex reaction time. However, the subject has to respond to only one. The other responses are just a distraction.
Factors that Affect Your Reaction Time
Your reaction time varies as a function of factors like:
The more complicated the stimulus, the more information your brain has to process and the longer it will take you to respond. For example, when a bright light hits your eyes, you automatically close your eyes because the stimulus is simple.
But if somebody slaps you out of nowhere, it takes you time to respond because first you didn’t expect it, and second, you have multiple options. You could either hit them back, or walk away, and it takes your brain a minute to process the best course of action.
It is easier for you to respond to a stimulus you’ve responded to before than it is to a new one. This is because, with a familiar stimulus, you already know what to do, so your brain has minimal processing to do.
But when it’s a completely new stimulus, your reaction time will be lower. For example, when playing a first-person shooter video game you are used to, you’ll have a quicker reaction time because you’re well versed with the map’s layout, you know where to expect enemies, hence you’ll be on your guard when approaching enemy territory.
But when it’s a new video game, it takes you too many sessions of being killed by your opponents before you get the hang of it. How long you take before you can develop the fastest reaction time depends on the complexity of the game. With tactical shooters like Valorant and CSGO, the most important elements to master include the map layout, enemy positions, and rotations.
The Stimulated Sense
The sensory modality triggered by the stimulus also affects how fast your reaction time will be.
Generally, it’s easier to respond to an auditory stimulus than a visual stimulus because the former requires less processing. In a layperson’s language, you have the fastest reaction time when sound is the stimulus than when you are responding to a visual or felt stimulus.
State of the Organism
Your state of mind and body when a stimulus is triggered is the most important factor in determining your response or reaction time.
The stimulus might be simple, and you might be even familiar with it. But if you are not in the right state, your reaction time will be slower.
For example, if you are fatigued while playing a video game, your reaction time will be slower. Other factors that affect your reaction time through your state of mind and body include:
- Temperature (reaction time is slow when it’s too hot or too cold)
- Stimulant or depressant drugs
- Relevance of stimuli to survival
- Age (your brain naturally slows down as you age)
- Direct vs. peripheral vision
- Physical fitness
- Breathing cycle
- Learning disorders
How to Improve Reaction Time in Gaming
Your reaction time in gaming is the thin line between beating and losing to your opponents in video games. The faster you press that mouse or controller, the faster you’ll pull the trigger on your opponent. In that light, here are some tips on how to improve reaction time for gaming:
1. Warm Up
Cold hands mean slower reaction times and reduced dexterity. When it is cold, your muscles are usually stiff, and it becomes difficult for you to concentrate, let alone reacting appropriately. Before you hit the start button or even enter your gaming room, warm up first. If it is cold, take a cup of hot coffee or tea to get the temperature going.
Consider getting a hand warmer or a heat bag and regularly rubbing your hands at regular intervals in between gaming breaks. Alternatively, you could get a pair of quality gaming gloves since they are designed not only to offer excellent traction but also to retain palm heat.
2. Ease Off the Distractions
Most pro video gamers game in dimly lit rooms, with professional headphones. Although they may have company, the room is usually very silent. This to an amateur or a non-gaming individual might not make sense. However, the tranquil environment helps the gamer attain faster reaction times.
That said, one way to improve your reaction time in gaming is to remove any distractions in your gaming environment. Shut the door, put your headphones on, and turn off the lights if necessary so your only focus is the game in front of you.
Also, although multiplayer gaming is fun, it is wise to play in single-player modes when trying to improve your reaction time in gaming. This is because having your teammates constantly talk into your headphones will only slow you down. So, remove any distractions, practice alone, become better, and then join in multiplayer gaming modes when your response is much quicker.
3. Get Enough Sleep
We know we sound like your mom right now, but getting at least eight hours of sleep will significantly improve your reaction time on Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, or whichever FPS game you are trying to improve your reaction time on.
As mentioned earlier, it takes a shorter time to respond to a familiar stimulus than a new one. That said, when you sleep enough, you give your body enough time to rejuvenate. Likewise, enough rest gives your brain enough time to process whatever you practiced during the day.
These experiences are moved to your long-term memory, which means the next time you’ll need to respond to a similar stimulus, your reaction time will be faster. This is because your brain is already familiar with the process and knows what signals to send immediately.
Besides, enough sleep means better focus, and better focus in video gaming is always a win and will go a long way in increasing your reaction time. So, invest in a comfortable mattress, and as much as it is hard for avid gamers to hit the sack, try to sneak in at least eight hours of sleep. While at it, check out this podcast for some active ingredients you can use to boost your reaction time naturally
4. Try Regular Concentrated Practice Sessions
As cliché as this sounds, practice actually makes perfect. The more you practice, the better your reaction time will be.
Note that concentrated practice is when you focus on becoming better at one particular skill in gaming, instead of all of them. Set aside at least two or three hours, figure out gaming elements that affect your reaction time, and dedicate yourself to improving them.
While trying out concentrated practice, be sure to watch how the pros do it. If you look up to one specific pro, watch their videos to see how they execute a reaction you are trying to learn. Another excellent option is to sign up for gaming courses.
5. Invest in Quality Gaming Gear
You might try concentrated practice, get rid of all potential distractions, and even hit the sack for more than eight hours. But if your gaming monitor has a slow refresh rate or you are using a below-average mouse, your reaction time will still be poor.
Invest in quality gaming gear. If you are a PC gamer, upgrade your gaming rig by getting a quality graphics card, a monitor with a refresh rate of at least 144Hz, and a mouse that fits comfortably in your palm (and tune its DPI settings).
Also, remember sound is critical in video gaming. It helps you detect where your opponents are and even what they are doing. So, while looking for quality gaming gear, make sure you get yourself a pair of quality gaming headphones as well. They should be super comfortable, because you’ll have them on for prolonged periods, and feature crispy clear sound delivery.
You don’t have to blow a hole in your bank account just to get high-end gear. There are some pretty excellent affordable options in the market. You just have to do a little digging to find them.
6. Don’t Sweat It
Lastly, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so is your reaction time. You cannot try concentrated practice today and expect to be a pro tomorrow. So, don’t stress yourself if you don’t have the fastest reaction time after one practice session.
If you stress yourself over it, you may experience burnout, which doesn’t help to improve your reaction time. Keep in mind it takes time, regular practice, utmost dedication, and regular assessments using the 3D Aim Trainer assessment to improve your reaction time in gaming. Also, note that the fastest reaction times occur when you expect the unexpected. If you’re prepared for an encounter, you’ll react to it swiftly. That is why it pays to have exemplary map knowledge in gaming.
Improve Your Reaction Time with the Pros Today
Your reaction time in video games is the difference between winning and losing to the opposing team. We highly recommend trying out all the tips on how to improve reaction time above and combine them with pro training at 3D Aim Trainer today.
Click here to learn more about our training program, assessment, and reaction time test tools.