After finishing watching the college football season, one thing is very clear to me.  SPEED IS ESSENTIAL.  The phrase used to be “speed kills,” but in this day and age I don’t know who will get on me for saying that so we will stick with “speed is essential.”

Watching Alabama play and win another national championship, it left the two teams they beat in the national playoffs (Ohio State and Notre Dame) and their analysts lamenting how much they need speed to compete with Alabama.

Unless you can recruit some of those really fast guys, you will have to do speed training with the athletes that you do have.   And if I have learned one thing, it takes a long time to develop speed within athletes.

As a track coach, I work with sprinters.  400M runners are considered sprinters and there is always two trains of thought on how to develop them.  Focus on the endurance and as the season goes on then work on the speed.  OR, work on the speed and gradually lengthen them out as the season goes on (basically the opposite of the first thought).

I began my coaching agreeing with the first principle.  What I saw were my athletes getting so smoked by fast athletes in the first 200M of the race, that the endurance couldn’t help them catch those runners let alone overtake them in the second 200M of the race.

Sure, they might have closed the gap, but in the end you are still losing the race.

I started listening to track coaches a lot smarter than me explain how they focused a lot of time on the speed development.  Since that takes longer to produce.  The conditioning of the athlete would be a by-product, but could be developed in a lot shorter time as the athlete continues to improve his/her speed.

What has that got to do with football?

I believe everything!  Football coaches spend time doing speed drills, but don’t really do what is necessary to develop speed in their athletes.  Even though they desperately crave it.

They do spend a lot of time on conditioning drills.  Or they do a lot of speed drills that actually results in conditioning not developing speed.

The goal is the fourth quarter right?  They want to be the freshest team in the fourth quarter.

I get that, but my contention is if you spent more of your time on speed, you eventually will get the conditioning you want in the fourth quarter.  I can’t help with the execution of football, but if you are faster than your opponents in the first half or first three quarters, shouldn’t you be winning the game and wearing them out.

How much conditioning does your receiver or running back have to have, to continue to beat a defensive back down the sideline for a long pass or breakaway run?  They do have breaks in the game to catch their breath.

I would take a tired speedster over a conditioned slow guy all day.

It is time to change the mindset.  Stop wasting time on those gassers and other “mental toughness” conditioning and spend your time wisely on speed work.  Just my two cents.