Secretary of Education Rod Paige earned his doctorate in physical education from Indiana University in 1969. His 123-page dissertation was titled “The Effect of Pre-Foreperiod Preparation and Foreperiod Duration Upon the Response Time of Football Linemen.”
Using volunteers from the IU varsity football team as his subjects, Mr. Paige performed a variety of experiments to determine the period and preparation for optimal response times for football players as well as other athletes.
“In football, quickness of starting, or the ability to react to the stimulus and for the total body to overcome the effect of inertia, is one of the most important factors of proficiency,” Mr. Paige wrote. “Practically all football coaches agree on the importance of quick starts, but there seems to be wide differences on the best methods to achieve quick starts.”
Among his conclusions: “When subjects assumed the ‘set’ position prior to the warning signal, reaction time was fastest for the short foreperiod duration, and increased as the foreperiod duration increased. When no preparation during the pre-foreperiod was allowed, reaction time was fastest for the medium foreperiod duration, and tended to increase when the foreperiod durations became longer or shorter than the medium foreperiod duration.”
Like any good academic, Mr. Paige also offered several suggestions for further research. Among them: “A study to investigate the effect of pre- foreperiod preparation and foreperiod duration upon the response time of football linemen for lateral movements. In the present study, only the forward direction was studied.”
SOURCE: Indiana University
A version of this article appeared in the February 14, 2001 edition of Education Week as Off to a Quick Start