Being Fast vs. Being Quick

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Athletes are always looking to improve on their skills, speed, strength, agility, and conditioning.

This is for good reason. The athlete that has the best physical qualities is probably going to have the better chance for success. There are exceptions but most of the time it is true.

Quick and Fast are two terms that often could be the same thing but one of them is more desirable for athletes.

Being fast means that you can run at a high speed.

Being quick means that you can stop and start rapidly. 

You want both as an athlete.

Being Fast

Everyone pays attention to fast athletes. Or is it quick athletes?

Fast athletes are able to run at a high speed. This is usually influenced by sprinting technique and ability to put force into the ground. 

Good sprinting involves driving the knees to hip level, extending the back leg fully, striking on the high arch of the foot, and spending minimal time on the ground.

The other piece of the puzzle is having the strength to push down the field or court. There has to be some force behind the stride.

The Wall Progression is a good way to work on acceleration mechanics.

Being Quick

If we had to pick between fast and quick, though, quickness often prevails. Typically, the quicker athlete does a lot better to make space when it might not be there. A fast athlete needs space to utilize their speed. This can be problematic when the game slows down and no breakaway chances are around.

Quickness is influenced by:

  • Deceleration
  • Explosive push out of decel
  • Decision Making/Reaction

Julian Edelman is a quicker receiver. Is he fast? Absolutely. But his role is much more important on shorter routes, getting open in a short amount of time so that the ball gets out. Someone like Randy Moss was way faster but a different type of threat. 

Improving quickness is done by learning how to slow down and get going again rapidly. A lot of athletes lose a lot of time by not being able to put the brakes on and push the other way. That is the starting point.

This is the biggest area of growth for most athletes. Being to able to slow down laterally and then get moving in the opposite direction is a huge need. Improving this ability is a good way to get ahead of the competition. 

The next move is to work on reaction. We like to switch our drills up a lot to train reaction. If you cannot make a fast decision, it is going to be hard to be quick.

I think reactive components are the most important piece of agility training for young athletes. Teaching them to think critically is tough which is why they need it. Most high school athletes do not process information quick enough.

In a game, it doesn’t matter what your 40 or shuttle time is. Your success is determined by your decision making and you only have fractions of a second to make those calls. Getting used to thinking on the fly during training is a good way to improve in your sport.

Adding reaction is easy. Take a normal cone drill and don’t go through the planned running of it. Change something mid drill to make the athletes think.