As you might suspect, when you reverse the current in an alternating current motor, it takes time for those atoms to get going in the opposite direction. And the amount of time is not necessarily the same as the time it took to get the herd moving properly in the first place.
The colors or numbers themselves are often a clue, but they alone may not provide sufficient information. There is always the trial and error method, but I do not recommend that because of the potential for destructive results. Instead, the Motor Doctors suggestion is to equip yourself with an ohmeter (don nott settle for just a continuity tester) and learn to perform a few simple tests with it.
Suppose you take a length of ordinary wire, make it into a big loop, and lay it between the poles of a powerful, permanent horseshoe magnet. Now if you connect the two ends of the wire to a battery, the wire will jump up briefly. It is amazing when you see this for the first time. It is just like magic! But there is a perfectly scientific explanation. When an electric current starts to creep along a wire, it creates a magnetic field all around it.
For wiring a single-phase motor, the most important objective is to distinguish the starting circuit from the main winding. These two circuits are isolated from one another electrically if the lead wires are separarted and not in contact with each other. Initially, the ohmeter can be used to determine which wire belongs to which circuit as well as checking continuity between leads.