As an athletic performance specialist I am frequently asked “can you make me faster?” Since most athletes play sports that involve a lot of cutting, stopping and acceleration. I have to explain the difference in speed vs acceleration and their impact on athletic performance.
Speed is a great weapon in any sport but during a typical football, soccer, basketball, baseball or lacrosse game how many times does a player reach his or her top speed or maximum velocity? World class sprinters do not reach top speed until the 60 meter mark. When was the last time a you saw an athlete in a team sport sprint 60 meters in a perfectly straight line without cutting, stopping, having contact or changing direction? It is very rare to see any athlete in a team sport preform a 60m -100m sprint in a perfectly straight line. Athletes need to become better accelerators, and need to get to higher percentage of your top speed in as few steps as possible.
Speed training is important if you are running track or you have a pro scout combine where tenth of second inmprovement in your 40 yard dash can equal improved draft status and millions of dollars. Otherwise, you need improve acceleration. Acceleration and is the key to quickness. How fast is you first step or how fast is your first 10 yards of your 40 yard dash, are the questions that you need to ask yourself the next time you think you work on your speed.
The quicker you can accelerate the faster you will be at higher percentage of your top speed. If become a better accelerator you will be come a better player because most sports are made up of a series of stops and starts. The players are able to stop and start quicker will stand out as the “fastest” or “quickest” players on the field or court.
Remember work on first step quickness and your initial acceleration and you will ultimately change your overall game speed.
Kai Etheridge, CSCS, PES, ATC