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  • Writer's pictureScott Lancaster

Slow Down! If You Want To Perform FAST.

Updated: May 12, 2019

The most important, misunderstood, and underutilized skill in sports - SPEED.

As a professional athletic performance coach, SPEED is one of the major skills I focus on with all athletes, regardless their sport.  Learning to perform skills at optimum speed with maximum efficiency is a key to athletic success.  It’s a topic that has captured my attention not only in my athletic career, but also as a corporate executive and entrepreneur.

I’ve trained thousands of athletes, I’ve never come across any that want to get slower.  However what they soon discover is learning to slow down not only keeps them safer (avoiding injuries), but also improves their performance skills, and yes, it improves their speed.

Whenever I’m teaching an athletic skill, I always break down the skill into small components.  Movement Speed Skills such as acceleration and change of direction are important, but not if an athlete does not learn to properly decelerate and stop. 

Anyone can put the pedal to the floor and speed. Not many prepare, learn, train, and apply focused awareness before traveling at a faster speed. When unprepared, the results are often unproductive, at times detrimental, or in some cases tragic.  Speed is nothing to take lightly.  It can be rewarding when done effectively, or counter-productive and force you to start over, if not.

It’s no secret that Speed is important to sports performance.  What’s widely misunderstood is when it’s not used thoughtfully, appreciated, and executed properly with precision, it can and will become counter-productive, slowing us down, and often force us to redo. When speed becomes rushing to do something it’s no longer effective or fast.

SMART SPEED: When I train my athletes and teams, I emphasize the proper use of Speed, I refer to it as SMART SPEED.  We accomplish this by first, slowing all the necessary movements down and walking through the needed skill sets. 

Let’s take the essential skill of acceleration - a skill that’s vital to all athletes.  A It's a skill that seems to be very basic yet includes the proper execution of many different body mechanics. From proper arm position and action, to proper posture, proper hip position and movement, knee drive, foot plant and position of the toes.  This methodical and slow process of breaking down all movements necessary to execute a skill and/or play, educates the athlete and their body to perform slowly with precision (even when learning to accelerate) prior to us gradually increasing the tempo to full competitive speed. 

If you’re training and not incorporating deceleration into your skill sets, please start. Many non-contact injuries occur due to improper deceleration techniques.  We not only use deceleration skills to stop, but also to change direction.  Deceleration requires proper body awareness, running form, the ability to get your body low with correct posture.  This is only one facet of Speed. The same theories and methodologies apply to the speed of hand/eye coordination, how quickly you observe, react, make decisions, etc.

The message, stop believing the myths of SPEED. - “Don’t Assume You’re Either Fast or Slow” - “Don’t Believe You Cannot Improve Your Speed” and start treating SPEED as a skill.  Your most important one.

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