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How Fast Is Your Reaction Time? *

Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Many sports skills require quick reaction times: think of hitting a 95-mph fastball, returning a 100-mph tennis serve, or blocking a slapshot at the net in hockey. (The Experimental Procedure section below has one way to measure reaction time.) Is your right hand faster than your left? Can you improve your reaction time with practice? Do both hands improve if you only practice with one hand? Try relating your reaction time to real situations in your favorite sport. For example, calculate where the baseball is on its way to the plate when the batter has to make his decision to swing. In addition to reaction time, it takes between 150-190 milliseconds from initiating the swing to making contact with the ball. You'll also need to know the distance from the pitcher to home plate, and the speed of a pitched ball. (Wiese, 2002, pp. 6-8; Adair, 2002, Chapter 3; Brody, 1987, pp. 145-147.) See the Science Buddies project Think Fast! for a step-by-step procedure.

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MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "How Fast Is Your Reaction Time?" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 6 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/HumBio_p005.shtml>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, October 6). How Fast Is Your Reaction Time?. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/HumBio_p005.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-10-06


  • Adair, R.K., 2002. The Physics of Baseball: Third Edition, Revised, Updated and Expanded. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Brody, H, 1987. Tennis Science for Tennis Players. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Wiese, J, 2002. Sports Science: 40 Goal-Scoring, High-Flying, Medal-Winning Experiments for Kids. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

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I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

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