When it comes to gaming, people talk all the time about aim training, getting the perfect gaming setup, and PC settings, but there’s one vital factor that can really make all the difference to your high scores – your reaction time. Even if you have perfect aim, if the other player shoots you first, you’re screwed. So, let’s take a look at our top tips for improving your reaction time, so you can nail those headshots.
What Is Reaction Time?
In simple terms, reaction time is how long it takes for you to see something, choose to act, and then actually act. When someone yells “Think fast” and hurls a football at your head, can you actually catch it? This is all down to reaction times (and whether or not you’re any good at catching, of course). When it comes to gaming, your reaction times mean the difference between getting the drop on the enemy and getting a bullet right between the eyes. So, improving your reaction time for gaming is an essential skill.
We can split reaction time into two main categories – mental reaction time, and physical reaction time. Your mental reaction time is how quickly you notice an enemy peeking round the corner, and your physical reaction time is how quickly you can pull the trigger. So, it’s important to train both.
How To Measure Your Reaction Time
Average reaction times vary from person to person, but usually sit at around 200-300 milliseconds. If you want to find out how you stack up, there are a number of tools online. We even have a quick and easy reaction test on our Instagram profile so you can test your mettle (but don’t blame us if you spend the next few hours trying to beat your high score).
How To Improve Your Gaming Reaction Time
There are a few things that affect your reaction time – some of which, sadly, you can’t control. For example, as we get older, our reaction times will inevitably slow down. This is why the majority of top esports players are all on the younger side. But, no matter your age, there are still a few things you can do to improve your reactions.
Practice, and Then Practice Some More
Just like any other skill, the best way to improve your reaction time is to practice, practice, and yep you guessed it, practice. We mentioned some great programs back in our guide on aim training that can be used to do just this. Aim Lab has tasks designed specifically for improving your reaction time, and just aim training in general will help you to click those headshots faster.
Sort Out Your Setup
You can only react quickly to what you can see, so the first thing you need to sort out is a good gaming monitor. Having a gaming monitor with a high refresh rate means it will be able to keep up with the game you’re playing in real-time. If you’re serious about improving your reaction time for gaming, then ideally, you’ll want to invest in one that comes with 120Hz or higher.
Warm Up Your Game, and Your Hands
Trying to play any game with cold hands is a big no-no. You’ll soon find that trying to do any quick movements on your keyboard, mouse, or controller is almost impossible as your extremities struggle to keep up with your brain. If you need one, try getting a hand warmer to use between rounds to keep your fingers nice and toasty.
Next, you need to actually warm-up in game. Before you dive into any kind of competitive game, it’s always worth a few practice rounds first. For example, if you’re planning to rank up in Valorant, then do some shooting practice in the Range and play a couple of Deathmatches first to get your reactions all fired up and ready to go.
Get Your Prep Right
Before you even start booting up your PC or console, you need to make sure you’re prepped for your gaming session. So, get your chair adjusted, make sure you’ve got some light to see what you’re doing, grab your Command drink, and start to prepare yourself mentally.
Staying hydrated is essential, and you should ideally be avoiding alcohol to keep your reactions sharp. Also, higher levels of fitness have been linked to better reaction times too. So, if you’re serious about improving, it’s time to get exercising (our big brothers over at Myprotein can help with that).