In some regards the concept of timing is abstract. It is hard to put into words or to visualize. When we discuss timing, we can think of it in terms of sequencing, or in other words, the order in which things happen.
Timing can apply to the order in which we move our own body parts to perform a certain movement or set of movements. This type of timing is called coordination or personal timing, but this is not what we will discuss here.
Environmental timing implies moving in relation to that which is around us, i.e. people, obstacles, weapons, and weather to name just a few. Crossing a street and not getting hit by a car is simply a matter of timing.
Timing for athletic performance is how our movements are done sequentially in harmony with our environmental surroundings. The very best athletes in all sports have a superior sense of timing, and good timing is considered by some to be the most important attribute of an athlete.
As an example, we will discuss timing in relation to an opponent's movement. There are usually three phases in timing. They are:
|Moving after the opponent|
|Moving at the same time as the opponent|
|Moving before the opponent|
If an opponent throws a punch, we can let the punch extend by moving back and then follow the punch back in with a counter strike. Our goal is to be after his first strike and before his second--in other words, in between his actions.
Moving at the same time as the opponent is more difficult. If the opponent throws a punch, we can slip off the line of the attack and counter at the exact same time. If we are off the target line and the opponent is on it, we will hit our target.
Moving before the opponent is the most difficult type of timing. It is part reaction timing (see the Motion Science™ section on Speed) and part anticipation based on experience. As the opponent begins to throw a punch, we will fire our counter move and hit the target before the opponent's weapon has extended.
There are many drills that can enhance timing for your moves. Some can be done in the air, some on equipment, and some with a partner. Spend some time and make up some drills, but remember to practice all three phases. Either be after, at the same time, or before your opponent.
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