Power up, Captain; you’ve respawned at the perfect spot!
Today, we’ll discuss how to enhance gaming reaction time, diving deep into gaming gear tips and pro training routines. You’ll learn about the secret foods and supplements professional players use to boost their gaming reaction time and get an edge over their competition.
This is the guide to unleashing your inner beast mode, where you control every millisecond in-game and the outcome of every death match!
How to Improve Reaction Time for Gaming TL;DR – Top 7 Tips!
- Practice visualization regularly to reduce stress and boost in-game reaction time
- Include nitrate-rich green, leafy vegetables in your diet to improve blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive functions and response time
- Use aim trainers like KovaaK 2.0, Aimbeast, or Aimlabs to hone your targeting skills and muscle memory in competitive FPS games
- Add blueberries to your diet for improved cognitive functions, memory, and reaction times
- Certain supplements like L-theanine, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and DHA (Omega-3) can further enhance reaction times
- Perform eye stretches regularly to improve ocular muscles, peripheral vision, and hand-eye coordination
- Train in 90-minute cycles to get the best results
- How to Improve Reaction Time for Gaming TL;DR – Top 7 Tips!
- What is Reaction Time in Gaming?
- Why Reaction Time in Gaming Matters
- What’s a Good Reaction Time for Gaming?
- 11 Ways to Sharpen Your Reaction Time for Gaming
- 1. Top Gaming Gear is Very Much Needed
- 2. Employ Visualization Technique
- 3. Consume Natural Food Rich in Nitrates
- 4. Aim Trainers Help for FPS Games
- 5. Make Blueberries Your Friend
- 6. These Supplements Helps
- 7. Do Eye Stretching Exercises
- 8. Listen to Music
- 9. Try to Train in 90-Minute Cycles for Best Results
- 10. Have a 20-Minute Non-Sleep Deep Rest Within One Hour After Your Training
- 11. A Pinch of Caffeine Helps
- Factors That Affect In-Game Reaction Time
- How We Did the Research for This Blog
- React, Adapt, and Dominate!
What is Reaction Time in Gaming?
Gaming reaction time, more aptly called Visual Reaction Time (VRT), is the time it takes your brain to respond to in-game stimuli or events. It is measured in milliseconds and consists of two key components: Mental Reaction Time (MRT) and Physical Reaction Time (PRT).
Mental Reaction Time (MRT) refers to the speed with which your brain processes in-game dynamics, assessing the environment and making strategic decisions to determine the best response to a situation.
Physical Reaction Time (PRT) refers to the time it takes for your body to execute the required response processed by your brain physically. This response can be a simple reflex where you might just have to move your mouse and take aim. Or, it can involve complex coordinated motor actions, requiring you to press a combination of keys on your keyboard to Rage Art your opponent.
Factors that can affect gaming reaction time are age, genetics, physical fitness, stress levels, experience, hydration levels, alcohol consumption, and sleeping habits. More on these later.
Why Reaction Time in Gaming Matters
Before we proceed, it’s important to reiterate that reaction time is just one facet among many that contribute to becoming a good player. You can’t expect to hit top gaming performance based on fast reaction time alone.
With that said, here’s why reaction time matters in gaming, impacting KPIs across different game genres:
- First-Person Shooter Games: Higher K/D ratio, better headshot percentage, more kill streaks, improved overall accuracy.
- Racing Games: Faster lap times, cleaner laps with no crashes, consistent drive pacing.
- Fighting Games: Higher win rates, better combo efficiency, shorter match times.
- Strategy Games: Quicker time to victory, faster economic growth, greater map control at any given time.
- Sports Games: Better win-to-loss ratio, more goals, higher scores, and greater points.
What’s a Good Reaction Time for Gaming?
Anything between 300 and 500 ms is a good reaction time if you’re a casual, non-professional gamer. For competitive esports, the standards are much higher.
It’s worth mentioning that reaction time tends to increase with age. Players in their 30s can rarely achieve a reaction time ideal for gaming unless they train their brains regularly and maintain consistent gameplay hours.
Do Pro-Gamers Have a Faster Reaction Time Than Normal Gamers?
Professional gamers exhibit faster response times than normal, casual gamers, typically under 200 ms on average. This was also demonstrated in a video by the Betway Esports YouTube channel, where they compared the reaction time of some of the most popular CS:GO players a year ago. ‘Hunter’ clocked the fastest reaction time at just 153 ms. You can watch the video below:
Interestingly, the reaction time of pro gamers varies across different game genres.
Comparing Reaction Time of eSports Players Across Different Genres
In a study published in the International Journal of eSports Research in April 2021, Peter Bickman and his team recorded the reaction time of 18 professional eSports players across FPS, MOBA, and sports simulation gaming environments. Three types of tests were performed, including visual reaction tests, acoustic reaction tests, and choice reaction tests.
Professional MOBA players performed the poorest in all three tests. Sports simulation players clocked the fastest reaction times in the acoustic tests. FPS players came out on top for visual and choice reaction tests.
How to Calculate Gamer Reaction Time
Several reaction time test tools are available online to estimate your reaction time for gaming. Human Benchmark is by far the most popular one. However, it’s quite bare bones and doesn’t give you the whole picture. It merely shows you a red screen and prompts you to click as soon as it turns green.
We prefer Reaction.exe, a better, less commonly known alternative to Human Benchmark. It involves keeping the mouse cursor on an unpredictable, jittery target, much like an enemy moving around in a game. These settings give you a far more realistic estimate of your actual in-game reaction time and overall performance.
Is it possible to improve your reaction time for gaming?
11 Ways to Sharpen Your Reaction Time for Gaming
There are several methods and diet regimens through which you can train and bolster your brain’s capacity to respond quicker, thereby sharpening your reaction time. The ability of your brain to rewire its neural connections to improve information processing and muscle communication speed to elicit faster responses is scientifically termed neuroplasticity. The rate at which these changes happen is called the neuroplasticity rate.
When working on improving your gamer reaction time, you must adopt a holistic approach, targeting your brain and muscle reflexes. After all, a faster MRT doesn’t mean much if your PRT lags. That would be our main focus in this section.
However, let’s first talk about gaming gear and how it can help you to improve your reaction time.
1. Top Gaming Gear is Very Much Needed
Use gaming hardware that can keep up with you. While “gaming” has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, high-end gaming monitors, mice, and keyboards are far from mere marketing gimmicks.
For example, a typical ‘run-of-the-mill’ 60Hz office monitor with a 15 ms response time will add over 25 ms of latency than, let’s say, a 180Hz gaming monitor with a 1 ms response time (11.11 ms frame time + 14 ms response time).
Similarly, a gaming mouse or keyboard with a 1000 Hz polling rate (1 ms) will shave off an additional 7 ms input latency over a regular office mouse or keyboard, which typically features a 125 Hz polling rate with an 8 ms latency.
Next, let’s get a bit more gamer-nerdy!
2. Employ Visualization Technique
Visualization is a form of sports psychology that involves imagining yourself in a game-specific scenario, which has been found to reduce stress and anxiety levels and boost reaction time. It stimulates and strengthens neural pathways explicitly associated with gaming and accelerates overall gaming hand-eye coordination.
To visualize, find a quiet place with minimal physical, auditory, and visual distractions. Next, take a few deep breaths, relax, and focus all your five senses to create a vivid mental picture of a realistic gaming scenario, focusing on areas where you wish to see improvements.
Use the visualization technique regularly for at least 5 minutes for best results. You can also use this technique moments before a competition (if you participate in local tournaments) to boost your confidence and morale.
3. Consume Natural Food Rich in Nitrates
Studies have shown that consuming natural food rich in nitrates (not nitrites, just to be clear) can help boost response time. That’s because nitrates improve your body’s blood flow, especially to the brain, and reduce blood pressure, which leads to heightened cognitive functions.
Examples of nitrate-rich foods include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, swiss chard, kale, arugula, and mustard greens. You can also take beetroot, radishes, turnips, watercress, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, celery, onion, and garlic.
4. Aim Trainers Help for FPS Games
Aim trainers can help you hone your targeting skills and muscle memory, especially in competitive first-person shooter (FPS) games like CS:GO or Call of Duty: Warzone. Several aim trainers are available on Steam, each with unique perks and quirks.
i) KovaaK 2.0 is, by far, the most popular and feature-rich aim trainer, favored by casual and professional gamers alike to sharpen their reaction time.
ii) Aimbeast is another popular Aim Trainer and is ideal for gamers who want to create their very own gaming scenarios with AI-powered bots. It also has an extensive list of community-made scenarios
iii) Aimlabs is a free alternative to KovaaK and Aimbeast and is ideal for gamers who don’t want to pay for an Aim Trainer. Unfortunately, Aimlabs has too many loading screens and a limited selection of scenarios
Overall, KovaaK 2.0 stands out as the best game reaction time training program. However, you can’t go wrong with any of the three options mentioned above. Not a fan of gamified brain trainers? You can try Schulte Table!
5. Make Blueberries Your Friend
Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins. These are associated with improved cognitive functions. As such, blueberries can improve your memory, focus, and, of course, reaction times.
Research conducted by King’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine revealed that “eating a handful of wild blueberries brings numerous health benefits, including lowered blood pressure, faster reaction time, and improved memory and brain cognition.”
Another research by the University of Reading discovered that children who consumed flavonoid-rich blueberry drinks exhibited a remarkable 9% quicker reaction times in tests than those who were given a placebo drink.
If you’re gunning for faster response times, make blueberries your friend. Blueberries enhance your reaction time and can also improve your mood when you’re feeling down. What’s not to like about them, eh?!
6. These Supplements Helps
Certain supplements such as L-theanine, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and DHA (Omega-3) have shown promising results in improving reaction times. However, these supplements may take weeks to build up in your system and show improvements in your reaction time.
Make sure to seek advice from a healthcare professional before adding these supplements to your regimen, though. It’s possible that you could be allergic to some of these supplements. Better be safe than sorry!
7. Do Eye Stretching Exercises
Eye stretching exercises aim to improve the ocular muscles in your eyes and are crucial to improving your peripheral vision and hand-eye coordination. In fact, they are essential to maintaining overall eye health and can be invaluable in combating vision blurriness, eye strain, and dry eyes. Here are some of the eye stretching exercises you can try:
i) Blink for a minute to regulate blood circulation and prevent dry eyes
ii) Rotate the head while staring ahead to increase blood circulation in the eyes
iii) Draw geometric figures with the gaze, such as circles, squares, triangles, etc., to exercise eye muscles
iv) Look to the right and left while inhaling and exhaling to improve your peripheral vision. This exercise, in particular, is ideal for competitive shooters with wide FOVs (Field of View), such as Valorant, which features a super-wide 103-degree FOV
v) Close and open the eyes rapidly to alleviate pressure from the eye muscles
vi) Move the eyeballs up and down with eyes closed
For best results, perform these eye exercises regularly, preferably early in the morning.
8. Listen to Music
Listening to music can help you relax your brain, potentially improving your reaction times. The choice of music differs from person to person, so just make a playlist of all your favorite songs that you find soothing and relaxing.
However, it’s worth mentioning that music can also be distracting and break focus and immersion for some people. Feel free to experiment and see if it works for you.
9. Try to Train in 90-Minute Cycles for Best Results
Design your gaming or training sessions to last around 90 minutes, aligning with the natural duration of an ultradian cycle.
The ultradian cycle is a biological rhythm or pattern associated with alertness, attention, and cognitive performance fluctuations. It typically ranges from 90 to 120 minutes, characterized by increased cortisol levels in the human brain. Cortisol is a type of glucocorticoid hormone, which plays an essential role in regulating various physiological processes, including metabolism, immune function, and, most importantly, stress response.
When you keep your training sessions to 90 minutes, you get to tap into the benefits of the ultradian cycle and maximize the outcome of your training. 3 sessions in a day are enough!
10. Have a 20-Minute Non-Sleep Deep Rest Within One Hour After Your Training
The structural changes in the brain do not happen while you are training; they happen once you are done training. Several studies show the neuroplasticity rate is at its peak within one hour of a highly intensive brain activity session. This is when you need to free your brain, letting it rewire and make new (more efficient) neural connections.
Taking a 20-minute non-sleep deep rest is the best way to spend this time. It can be a small nap or a brief meditation session.
11. A Pinch of Caffeine Helps
When consumed in moderation, caffeine can boost concentration, alertness, and focus and improve reaction time during gameplay. This is because caffeine can act as a mental stimulant, accelerating neurotransmitters and improving the brain’s overall neuronal activity.
Good sources of caffeine include chocolate, coffee, energy drinks, and green tea. Alternatively, you can take delayed-release pills such as Bio Health’s Up and Go or Vali’s Time Release Caffeine in small 100 to 150 mg doses, preferably after a meal, to avoid an upset stomach.
If you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine and experience jitters or heightened anxiety levels, you can pair it with L-Theanine. The key is to take caffeine responsibly and limit consumption to a few times a week to prevent your body from developing tolerance.
Factors That Affect In-Game Reaction Time
Here are some of the most common physiological and psychological factors that can adversely affect your in-game reaction time:
Motor neurons, located in the spinal cord, slow down as we get older, reducing the overall reactiveness of the Central Nervous System (CNS). According to a research paper published on PubMed, this decline in reaction time can be as high as 2ms per decade.
Genetics also play a role in reaction times. In particular, the Dopamine D4 Receptor Gene (DRD4) has been extensively studied as a candidate gene associated with poor cognitive functioning and, ultimately, slower response and reaction times.
Physical fitness can help improve reaction time. A research paper published in the Journal of Evolution of Medical and Dental Sciences observed that “reaction time was significantly faster after performance of exercise,” with participants displaying improved mental alertness and reduced response times.
Stress originating from in-game pressure or real-life situations can negatively impact reaction time. When stressed, the body releases cortisol, a hormone that directly influences your brain functioning, including reaction speed. While the hormone is known to induce positive effects (as we saw earlier in the case of the ultradian cycle), too much exposure to it over a prolonged period can have a counter-effect.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Inexperienced players tend to be inefficient with game controls as they lack the muscle memory of experienced players, which directly affects their reaction time.
Dehydration also greatly affects in-game reaction time. Studies have shown that dehydration can reduce reaction time by up to 60 to 70 ms, which is significant. For pro players with sub 200 ms response times, dehydration can increase their reaction time by one-third or more.
While dehydration is bad for your in-game reaction time, nothing affects it more than alcohol. Someone with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% can experience an increase in reaction time by up to 120 ms, as concluded by the University of Michigan.
Sleep deprivation is another factor that can significantly reduce your reaction time. Research conducted by the Sports Medicine Research Center and published by the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine (AsJSM) found a “significant difference in RT” (Reaction Time) in sleep-deprived subjects.
How We Did the Research for This Blog
We spent over 110 hours researching and reading literature about the functioning of the human brain and the different tips and tricks pro gamers employ to improve their reaction time. The information sources included Reddit, YouTube, PubMed research papers, and scientific journals.
The content of this blog is a result from a combination of surveys, studies, observation of YouTube videos, interviews from top eSports players, and a thorough examination of ‘How to improve reaction time for gaming’ Reddit threads.
React, Adapt, and Dominate!
Reaction time is vital in achieving good gaming performance across different gaming genres. Rigorous training, meditation, nitrate-rich green foods, and other supplements can significantly enhance your reaction time and overall gameplay. The gaming gear you use is also important in this regard. The best gamers have the best, low input lag gaming monitors, top gaming mouse sensors, and high-end mechanical keyboards as part of their gaming setups.
However, reaction time requires patience, practice, consistency, and, above all, determination. It’s also necessary to be aware of factors that affect in-game reaction time, such as age, genetics, fitness, stress, gameplay experience, dehydration, alcohol consumption, and sleep deprivation.
Hope you found this guide, and the recommendations inside it helpful. Until next time, keep training!