Product Description: The Reactive Catch helps improve reaction time and rapid decision-making by combining mental and physical training. By training the brain and body to work together athletes are able to develop Athletic Intelligence, enhancing their mental and physical ability to react to incoming stimulus, resulting in increased game day performance.
Price: $29.99 on SKLZ.com (Not an affiliated link)
- Great construction
- Simple tool with countless applications in training
- Multi-sport application
- Multiple drill videos are available on SKLZ.com Film Room page
- Applicable to all ages (used during testing on ages 4-38)
- Dogs love it and can destroy it
- A bit costly (you can make a PVC version from Lowes/Home Depot for <$9.00)
This month marks one year of using the SKLZ Reactive Catch with my athletes to increase reaction time, eye-hand coordination, computation time, executive function, and sport-specific skills. I purchased the SKLZ Reactive Catch after my 4-prong PVC reaction catch tool was broken while training with a client (hard PVC and concrete don’t mix well). I decided to give the SKLZ Reaction Catch a try and honestly, I am glad I did. The construction is a textured polymer with multiple colors allowing for visual identification, excellent grip, and an ergonomic shape to make throwing and catching more natural. The ends have lacrosse ball-sized textured spheres which assist ball sport athletes with sport-specific grips/catches (see drills at the bottom of the page). The overall weight is 0.59 lbs making it light enough to use at all ages with minimal concern for injuries caused by blunt force impact with the SKLZ Reactive Catch.
At 7.87″ long and tall and only 1.58″ wide, the Reactive Catch can be taken most places and I usually carried it in the side pouch on my bag or in my hand as I spun it around while walking. Yes, it is entertaining for coaches as well.
The only production defect was on the red colored ball where there was some bluing from the base color showing through. The defect is only in coloring and not in texture or form and approximately a 0.5” diameter.
This tool was used with individuals ranging in ages from 4 to 38 with athletes specific to a variety of sports: lacrosse, baseball, boxing, military, precision shooting, mixed martial arts, and mountain biking. I used this tool during warm-ups, training evaluations, and progression drills to challenge athletes while stationary, moving, and multi-tasking. Additionally, this tool was used with athletes recovering from injury to re-develop neural connections and reaction speed after a prolonged time away from sport.
Overall, it is a great tool for coaches, parents, mental performance professionals, and anyone who is interested in progressing their mind and body. Even though I used a homemade, PVC version for over a year, the construction of the SKLZ Reactive Catch is worth the price. The hard PVC would crack when hitting the ground and although it gave me options for additional colors, it just wasn’t worth it.
Recommendations for SKLZ for future development of the Reactive Catch is to include additional colors. The version I purchased includes a black center with red, yellow, and gray arms. The SKLZ website shows a version with blue instead of gray, but a variety of colors might be beneficial. For example, for softball athletes who have a bright yellow ball, a version that includes that color would be beneficial in particular for sport-specific training. One additional recommendation would be offering multiple versions of the ends rather than just having a sphere. The sphere is a great general purpose shape but I would be interested to see a hockey puck, lacrosse ball, softball, or baseball ends with the corresponding stitching or textures. I think these would be a great asset to any coach of those sports to work on specific catching grips or sequences.
How do you use it?
One of the simplest methods to use the SKLZ Reactive Catch is with the call and catch. The color is called and the athlete catches the called color. To make this drill more complicated you can call the color after the Reactive Catch is thrown, you can toss the Reactive Catch in the middle of agility drills, or you can use sequences for the athlete to use decision-making skills to catch the right color.
An example of this sequence would be to tell the athlete to make five catches (yellow-red-red-gray-yellow) and run them through an agility drill while making the catches throughout using the pre-established pattern. This is an excellent recall function that would benefit athletes who need to remember a sequence of plays.
The SKLZ Reactive Catch can be used in groups where a color is called and multiple teammates in a close circle continue to “quick-touch” catch and toss while only touching the called color until a new color is called. This can get competitive and most groups that I have used this with have enjoyed this drill enough that they conduct it on their own during downtime.
If you work with tactical athletes, I used a colored target for quick reaction drills in conjunction with the SKLZ Reactive Catch. I stood behind the shooter while their weapon was holstered or slung. I then tossed the SKLZ Ractive Catch over their head and called a color. They would catch the designated color, drop the Reactive Catch and engage the corresponding color on the target using the transition pattern as would be used to transition from their primary weapon to a secondary.
The options are endless and you are only limited by your imagination.
If you are a parent, coach, or mental performance professional I recommend investing in the SKLZ Reactive Catch so long as you are willing to put in the time to use it properly. If you are only tossing it to athletes and having them catch the called color without progressing past that, you are wasting your time. You might as well just play catch with a ball. If you are challenging the athlete to progress and applying the drills to sport-specific scenarios and needs then this is a great tool to have available.
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If you are interested in a full progression and drill breakdown by sport for the SKLZ Reactive Catch, leave a comment below.
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