In every sports movie, there's a familiar scene toward the end. A man or woman - let's call this person Jess - has to make the game-winning kick, throw, or home run. As they walk up to take their place on the field, his heart pounds in his ears. He looks to the crowd of spectators for his parents or significant other, who cheers him on. The moment is serious. Then, as he casts the ball into the air, it soars into the sky slowly as Jess realizes that there are no do-overs. And then normally, Jess' team wins.

That feeling - of time slowing down - is a film cliché, but it is also is a feeling that many people have described as they stand at home plate preparing to swing at a ball in a recreational softball game. Many professionals, too, describe the feeling right before they hit a ball as one of time slowing. Researchers at the University College London in the United Kingdom and the ATR Brain Information Communication Research Laboratory Group in Kyoto, Japan have found that the sensation of time slowing is real, and that professionals may feel it more strongly than others.

The neurologists asked participants to react to flickering discs or flashing lights on a screen. When participants were asked to tap the screen, they felt that they had more time to perform that task than did participants who were asked not to move their arms at all. In addition, the more time participants had to prepare for the tapping, the more time they perceived that they had.

So what causes this difference? Researchers remain unsure, but they think that they have an idea. "Our guess is that during the motor preparation, visual information processing in the brain is enhanced," Nobuhiro Hagura said to BBC. "So, maybe, the amount of information coming in is increased. That makes time be perceived longer and slower."

They would like to study the phenomenon in professional athletes. They think that this time slowing will be even more pronounced in elite athletes and that this superiority may be a reason that they have excelled in sports.

The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.