You ever heard someone called “sneaky athletic” or “deceptively quick”? I hear deceptively quick from analysts and commentators on tv all the time when talking about an athlete that shouldn’t beat their man but does regularly. The athlete usually is said to have a quick first step. But what does that mean when we break it down?
First, you have to react quickly. Your brain has to be able to analyze its environment and fire immediately. Then you need elasticity for that quick stretch reflex when your feet reposition for optimal force production angles. Then you need the ability to produce enough force to explode by your man.
What “deceptively quick” athletes have is the first piece…the ability to react. They can process their environment and react to it a split second faster than their opponent.
This leads me to how we are training speed and agility.
Rehearsed drills are great. We can absolutely learn skills from them. The ladder can teach you patterns in a controlled setting. For example, the ickey shuffle teaches cutting mechanics. Hop scotch can teach you to get out of an athletic stance quickly and to dynamically stabilize on one leg. The dot drill can teach you to move your feet around your body (that’s what we do in sports). However, there must be a reactive component to your training if you want these learned skills to translate to performance.
I have been guilty of making the mistake of training drills not skills and not translating those to the field or court. I wondered why my athletes had incredibly quick feet in the ladder but couldn’t move on the court. I quickly realized I was missing the vital component of speed and agility…reaction. It doesn’t matter how many line jumps you can do in 10 seconds if you can’t move that fast in a game.
Here is an example of how I might link 2 skills for a reactive component…
First we may do just a simple resisted acceleration with a band. Then we may do hip turns in a known direction
Then we tie it together with a game of tag. You can clearly see how the game of tag is sport like. Its reactive and competitive. By the way…the guy in the black…still has it!