ExerciseTrainers What is Speed?


In sports, speed is one of the most sought-after yet misunderstood skill sets that an athlete can possess. It is often what makes or breaks plays and even entire games. Speed is a topic that is hotly debated by researchers, coaches, parents, and athletes. The reason for this is that this concept in athletics is difficult to define.

When discussing speed, are we talking about being able to win a foot race? How about being able to juke an opponent? Or is it the ability to cover the length of the field or court in a short amount of time?

All three of these are examples of speed but in different contexts. What makes it even more confusing is an athlete can be fast in one area but not in others.

Speed is also misunderstood because in major sports we see outlier athletes that are genetically gifted and have a natural talent to move faster than everyone else. This has led to most people believing that being fast is something that you are born with and you cannot train. While it is true that everyone has limits to their genetic potential regarding how fast they can be, this does not mean that speed isn’t trainable.

In fact, athletes that spend time in a training program can close the gap between themselves and athletes who are more talented. Especially if those more talented athletes don’t train to improve their skillset.

So, to answer the question of what speed is, we must look deep into its physical demands.

Speed is a movement skill that can be described in its underlying motor abilities. These motor abilities include explosive strength, reaction time, response time, multi-limb coordination, and neural control. While this list is not exhaustive, it should help you to have an idea of this concept’s complexity.

Speed also has several subcomponents with each having its own set of skills to be developed. These subcomponents include acceleration, top-end sprinting, agility, and deceleration. As you can see speed is multilayered and it is no wonder why people misunderstand it and find it difficult to develop!

As mentioned above, speed is a movement SKILL.

To understand this, we need to understand what a skill really is. We can define a skill as the degree to which we interact with the information provided within a dynamic environment.

This includes the following concepts as they relate to movement:

  1. A task that has a specific purpose.
  2. The quality in which one performs the task as defined by its consistency, adaptability, and efficiency.

Skills are also performed voluntarily and deliberately. This means that they don’t happen randomly and the individual completing the action controls them.

To develop a skill, you must do training in a repetitive manner until you are able to repeat it consistently with few or no errors.

Looking at speed as a skill, several concepts must be trained to become faster. These concepts include biomechanics, explosive strength, elastic strength, reaction time, and motor coordination. These concepts work in concert with one another and a deficiency in any of these areas will limit the potential for speed improvements.

As you can see, speed in athletics is a very complex ability with several layers.

Most athletes never realize their full potential as it relates to speed because they did not properly train to develop this skill. Even worse, they may falsely believe that speed is a predetermined quality and cannot improve it. This is not only incorrect but prevents athletes from reaching their full potential in sports.

While it is true that most athletes will not possess Olympic sprinter speed, they can improve their speed so that they become as fast as possible.

So please, do yourself and the athletes you interact with a favor: start training with a coach that has the knowledge to help them to get faster and improve in their sport!

 Frisby Health And Wellness

Comments are closed