When I spar, I see/notice/become aware of the kick slightly after the foot has left the floor on a path towards my shin or my thigh. According to what I know (which is may be limited, so please correct me if I am wrong) these kind of kicks should be blocked by raising a knee so that the shin encounters the kicking leg and safe guards your thigh and calf muscles. But knee doesn't get up fast enough. Is it that I need more foresight and to anticipate the kick further ahead, should I train the muscles of knee lift to be more responsive, or should I be positioning my body in a way to give more freedom of movement to my knee in moving up and down (eg. have my back slightly bent backwards)?
Time it better through endless repetitions. Be lighter on your feet.
Also, you could instead step in and deliver a straight right to the face. I prefer that to checking.
Train it more. You're aware of it now, you'll improve now.
Based on the information provided, it sounds like you might benefit from placing more weight on the back leg. When I practice blocking with my lead leg, I find that it works much quicker if the weight distribution is more towards the back leg. It's hard to say without actually watching what you're doing, but it might be helpful to also bend the back leg somewhat. I wouldn't recommend bending your back backwards, since that is only going to throw your balance off and possibly injure you. Also, if someone were to kick you hard and you're leaning back, you're more likely to fall in the same direction.
Repetition is always good because you want to get that body memory going. Try standing in front of a mirror and analyzing your technique. Once you're comfortable with that, try shadow boxing. I always found that visualizing my opponent helped and the techniques would manifest themselves naturally after enough practice.
If you can get a partner, work with him/her. Explain to him/her what you're trying to perfect and have the person work with you. Sometimes I would train after class with a fellow student and work on different techniques. It pays off and is usually the best time since the techniques are still fresh in your mind.
One question: where do you look when you spar? You want to get a full view of the person you are sparring. If you're, say, looking your opponent directly in the eyes, you might lose perception. Stay relaxed, breathe, and keep moving. I've always felt that it is better to avoid a hit rather than take it, but I understand that you probably just want to improve this technique if you just happen to be in the situation in which you are unable to avoid a hit.
Also, some may argue with me, but I always found meditative arts like Tai Chi Chuan to assist my training quite a bit. I found that I was far more sharper once I started doing it once a week. Anyone can do something fast, but doing it slowly is more challenging than you think. Also, practicing slowly is a good way to pinpoint mistakes of yours that get overlooked when you're going fast. It's far easier to catch things when you're analyzing yourself slowly.
Anyway, I hope that helped a bit. Don't be afraid to ask your instructor for feedback. He/she is there to help you.
One thing that slows people down is putting tension on their blocking leg too early. The leg should stay very relaxed while moving up. Apply tension only in the moment before checking the incoming leg.
One drill you can do for that is to do a couple of minutes of quickly lifting your knees as if to block after a long training. Because you are already exhausted you will to this with few tension just to be able to finish the drill.
I'd look at your stance. Are you too forward? Too low and heavy? Is your footwork plodding forward instead of light? Are you frequently raising your legs ("marching" in my old teacher's parlance) in anticipation of a possible need to check?
I'd bet also that your reaction time is not what it will be after more months sparring. Knowing how to read an opponent and when to expect a certain attack based on subconscious cues is a skill that accumulates slowly.
I was having the same issues with this previously.
This basically help me improve alot. You also will need to anticipate the opponent's move, which will come with experience. :)
Cheers and train safe~
jump rope .
practice lunge steps with weight in hand.
jump on a tire layed down on the ground, like them thai`s do.
re-learn your foot work.
try boxing foot work.
move your feet to a beat or metronome and learn -practice to sync steps to the beat.
push a bag-punching and practice chasing and escaping via stepping front-back.
now give me 100 dollars for this consultation , every thing costs.