I’ve been an attendee of an online seminar, for the better part of this month.  It is focused on speed development for track and football players.

One of the discussions has been on how much time should be devoted to speed development?  With this particular crew of coaches, they think that top speed development should be priority during the off-season.  Conditioning should be secondary.  They feel you can get kids in condition over the course of pre-season and the season, but you can’t develop top speed over the same time span.

That could be a topic of discussion for another day.

But, it did get me thinking about how vital speed is to so many sports.  Which led me to the title of this blog post.  If one of the basic components for athleticism is not super important for your sport then should that sport be considered a sport?

I am going to discuss a few sport that came to mind and let’s see what you think.

  • Golf and Bowling have long been debated as if they are sports or not. Or are they just games of skill?  At first glance, you might think speed doesn’t play a role in the sport at all.  Which is true if you define it as the athlete running from one point to another.  BUT, have fast you swing the club or bowl the ball does play a roll in particular aspects of those sports.  Ultimately, I do think it comes down to more technique than pure power for those sports, but something to ponder.
  • You might look at tennis and think speed doesn’t play a big part because it is about ball placement and power. I have coached tennis players and if they can get fast enough on the court, they can get to a lot more balls than you think.  Thus, always putting the opponent on the defensive.  Speed plays a big role in this sport.
  • Volleyball could be a sport that speed isn’t used a whole heck of a lot. The loophole here is that jumping is.  Jumping is a basic skill in athleticism so you can’t discount volleyball.  Also, speed getting to the ball on the relatively few times they are going to fly out of bounds can be helpful.
  • Darts and cornhole are games of skill not necessarily a sport. I don’t care what cornhole championship you have been watching on tv.
    So, if relatively few sports do not require speed and it takes a while to develop top speed, maybe there should be a shift in thinking about what to work on in the off-season.

A shift of thinking when it comes to the athleticism for the sport, not necessarily the skill.  Obviously working on hitting for baseball, your shot in basketball, that connection with the wide receiver in football, or your juggling skills for soccer are going to be beneficial.

Does it matter how conditioned you are in a sport, if my speed is constantly beating you to the ball?  Yeah there might be incidences in a game where the conditioning plays a part, but most sports have built in rests.  That speed will shine no matter how tired the athlete is.

Or view it like this:  The speed might put so much pressure on the team in the first part of a game that they have built up an insurmountable lead.

Look at Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs.  You think teams are hoping in the fourth quarter he is getting tired and then they can keep up with him? AND their defense can keep him out of the end zone for the first three quarters to get to that tired fourth quarter?  Maybe they are, but that would be an awful game plan.

Develop that speed and then apply it to your sport.  You’ll cause problems no matter what sport you are playing.