Health Class (Video): The Ruler-Drop Reaction-Time Test

Health Class (Video): The Ruler-Drop Reaction-Time Test

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

Here's a fun cross-curricular activity that combines math (chart-reading) and physical education. It involves testing your students' reaction time. Setup All you need is a metric ruler and an assistant. One student holds the ruler on end, while the subject places her extended thumb and forefinger on either side of the ruler, with the top of the thumb at the "0" mark, as close as possible to the ruler without touching it.

The Test
The test is simple. The assistant drops the ruler without warning, and the subject catches it as quickly as possible by pinching it between the thumb and forefinger.

Measure the distance between the "0" mark and the top of the thumb. If the thumb lands between centimetre marks, round up. Then, use the chart below to determine reaction times.

For example, a student who grasped the ruler at the 10 cm mark would have a reaction time of .14 seconds.

Health Class (Video): The Ruler-Drop Reaction-Time Test

Download a a printable chart at: Drop Test

Automatic Calculators
You can also use an online calculator to determine reaction times using the drop test. The following website includes an online calculator and also an Excel calculator you can download and use on your own computer. See "Speed Reaction Calculator" at:

To see a demonstration of the
Ruler Drop Test, watch the video below:

1. Brian Mackenzie, "How to test your athlete's reaction time using the drop ruler test." Your Personal Trainer, April 2007.
2. Brian Mackenzie, Ruler Drop Test, BrianMac Sports Coach

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article, click here: Download Now

© 2018, Physical Education Update,

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