Active Choice Reaction Performance, or ACRP, is an important new area of sports performance that connects cognitive performance to physical performance. Many professional athletic teams have turned to training with cutting-edge devices to improve ACRP to get that competitive edge.1-3
Very likely, your first question is: what is active choice reaction performance, or ACRP? Let’s break it down and define each aspect of ACRP to learn how it connects physical and cognitive performance.
The foundation of ACRP is simple reaction time: the time between a stimulus and a response. Let’s use a basketball analogy – if your opponent is about to take a shot and you jump to block it, the time between seeing their action and responding to it is your reaction time. When cognitive reaction time is tested in a lab, a subject is presented with stimuli (a shape, for example) on a computer screen and hits a key as soon as they see it.
Choice reaction time involves two or more stimuli that require different reactions. For example, a dip in your opponent’s shoulder means a drive to the basket, requiring you to shuffle to the left to stay in front of them, or a step back means a shot, requiring you to jump and block. In the lab, this is tested by having the subject press a left or right arrow when a left or right arrow is presented, as opposed to simple reaction time where a subject presses the spacebar every time any arrow is shown on the screen. While the purely cognitive aspect of choice reaction time can be tested by computer-based methods, the physical aspect cannot since subjects are passive during testing.
Traditional reaction time testing is conducted under passive conditions in the laboratory: seated at a computer pressing buttons. However, sports performance is active – heart-pumping, adrenaline-fueled and whole body-engaging – and some data suggests the results of active testing (vs. passive) may translate better to sports performance.4
Sport-specific research studies have utilized new technologies and protocols to test for ACRP.4-7 Many professional sports teams understand the importance of improving ACRP and have used several new tools to train their athletes. Across the board, professional basketball,1-2 soccer,3 and baseball1 teams have utilized devices such as the Makoto Arena II,1 the FitLight Trainer2 and the Batak Pro3 to improve hand-eye coordination and ACRP since those skills translate to improved performance on the field and court.
One of the ways that ACRP training can improve sports performance is by improving reactive agility: any unplanned change in speed or direction. Each device mentioned above provides random stimuli (lights or sounds,) requiring an athlete to respond by changing speed or direction (moving toward a target, waving hands, etc.) When an athlete trains on an ACRP device, both their cognitive reaction time and their physical reactive agility improve.
Reactive agility applies to a wide variety of defensive maneuvers, such as marking a player who might receive a pass in football, basketball, or soccer; reacting to an unexpected tennis shot while at the net; avoiding a strike in combat sports; and avoiding unforeseen bumps and obstacles while running or cycling in endurance sports. Reactive agility can even translate to everyday functional living, whether it's catching a dropped phone before it shatters, or catching yourself as you trip on a crack in the sidewalk. Gamers may also benefit from increased reactive agility, especially as more games turn to virtual reality interfacing and require more activity on the part of the players.
Training with cutting-edge technology at a world-class sports performance facility, however, is not the only way to improve ACRP. Recent research suggests the nootropic ingredient Neumentix can also help improve ACRP when taken in a daily supplement. Participants in a double-blind placebo controlled trial showed improvements in ACRP, measured by the Makoto Arena II, after 30 days of supplementation. Improvements were still present after 90 days of supplementation.7 These results were observed without additional training to improve ACRP during the study. In the future, athletes of all types may be taking nootropics for that extra edge. Neumentix may also benefit reactive agility for all adults. Something to consider next time you fail to catch your dropped phone.
Paul Falcone is the Senior Clinical Research Associate at Kemin Health, where he conducts studies focused on brain health, vision, and active wellness. Previously, he served as the Lead Scientist at the MusclePharm Sports Science Institute, where he worked with various professional and collegiate athletes, including players from the MLB, NFL, NBA, UFC, and the Olympics.
Paul has published over 50 peer-reviewed, published papers and abstracts on sports nutrition, exercise, and supplementation.
Paul received his Master’s degree from Colorado State University studying nutrition, and his undergraduate degree from Brown University. He holds certifications through the International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN) and the National Association of Sports Medicine (CPT and PES).
1. Makoto USA - Physical Performance [http://www.makoto-usa.com/physical-performance-2/]
2. FitLight - Sports Training [https://www.fitlighttraining.com/sports-training/]
3. Batak Pro [http://www.batak.com/batakpro.htm]
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7. Falcone PH, Tribby AC, Vogel RM, Joy JM, Moon JR, Slayton C, Henigman M, Lasrado JA, Lewis B, Fonseca BA, et al: Efficacy of a Nootropic Spearmint Extract on Active Choice Reaction Performance: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Trial. 2018.
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