Whether you’re a sprinter, football player, basketball player, or just a weekend warrior, being fast can help you perform better in just about any sport. Even if you’re not the fastest person on the field, being able to accelerate and change directions quickly can give you a competitive edge that will complement your other skills.
Let’s start with an obvious one. In sprinting, speed is everything. The difference between first and second place can be just a fraction of a second, so every little bit counts.
Football players need speed to make plays on both sides of the ball. On offense, speed can help you get open for a pass or break away for a long touchdown run. On defense, speed is key for chasing down the ball carrier or getting to the quarterback before he can throw a pass.
Basketball players need speed to run the fast break and get back on defense. Speed is crucial in basketball for making quick moves to get open for a shot or steal the ball on defense.
Baseball and Softball
Baseball and softball players need speed to steal bases and make plays in the field, and pitchers need to be able to throw the ball fast to strike batters out. Being able to hit the ball fast and hard and then run fast can help you get an extra base or two on a single.
Soccer players need speed to create scoring opportunities and make plays on both offense and defense. On offense, speed can help you get behind the defense and make a run at the goal. On defense, speed is key for chasing down the ball and getting back into position.
Tennis players need speed to react quickly to their opponent’s shots and generate power in their own shots. They need speed to make quick adjustments to their positioning on the court, and they need to be able to serve the ball fast to win points.
Volleyball players need speed to move quickly around the court and jump higher for spikes and blocks. They need to be able to react quickly to the ball and their opponents’ movements, and they need speed to generate power in their shots.
Lacrosse players need speed to get open for shots and make plays on both offense and defense. On offense, speed can help you get behind the defense and make a run at the goal. On defense, speed is key for chasing down the ball and getting back into position.
Hockey players need speed training to skate quickly up and down the ice and make plays on both offense and defense. On offense, speed can help you get open for a pass or break away for a shot on goal. On defense, speed is key for chasing down the puck and getting back into position.
Rugby players need speed to make plays on both offense and defense. On offense, speed can help you get past the defense and score a try. On defense, speed is key for chasing down the ball carrier and making a tackle.
Most people wouldn’t expect golf to make a list of sports where speed matters, but pro golfers need speed and strength training to generate club head speed and hit the ball further.
Swimmers need speed to move through the water quickly and generate power in their strokes. They need to be able to make quick turns in the pool, and to generate power in their starts and turns.
Cyclists need speed to pedal faster and generate power to make it up hills, and to draft behind other cyclists to save energy. They need to be able to make quick movements to follow the best angles and lines through turns—not to mention avoiding sudden obstacles.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiers and snowboarders need speed to make turns and navigate through the terrain. Being able to move quickly can also help you avoid obstacles and stay safe on the slopes.
MMA fighters need speed to throw punches and kicks and take down their opponents. Having explosive strength can also help in the stand-up game and when taking an opponent down to the ground. Naturally, speed also comes in handy for avoiding your opponent’s strikes, getting out of submissions, and getting back to your feet quickly.
Speed is a critical component of success in all types of sports. So if you’re an athlete looking to improve your performance in your sport, start working on your speed. By training for speed, you can improve your performance and give yourself a competitive edge on the field, the court, the ice, the course, the pool, the track… or the octagon!