Are You Interested In A Faster First Step?
If you are a coach or an athlete looking for faster feet and a quick first step, I have 1 clear cut rule to improve sports performance
Developing quickness and speed has more to do with how fast you can put force into the ground, at sufficient levels, to move faster than your opponent.
However, if you were to watch Instagram trainers, speed ladders and quick feet drills are the “go-to” training tools to make a faster athlete.
Stop. Think. Observe. Proceed
What happens in a speed ladder? At best, you are moving from one end of a 10 yard speed ladder to another in 3-5 seconds. Meanwhile, a high level athlete will cover 10 yards in 1-1.25 seconds. If we are trying to get an athlete faster, and to get further than their opponent in the shortest time possible, how could a drill that lasts 3-5 seconds over a 10 yard period improve your time from 1.25-1.20 seconds in that same distance?
So when we are thinking we want a quick first step, we actually are saying that we want to put more force into the ground faster. This is otherwise known as Rate of Force Development. Rate of Force Development is better developed by either overloading a pattern (deadlifting heavy) or by unloading and creating ballistic energy (a box jump).
Speed ladders are about quickness of motion, but not development of force and distance. Without force and distance we don’t move. Develop force faster, develop more overall force, and improve techniques that lower the energy requirement to go from A-B.
That’s a quicker step
What drills do they do at the NFL combine?
40 yard dash (and they check your 10 and 20 yard split)
5/10/5 agility test
Where are the speed ladder drills?
The reason that you don’t see speed ladder type drills at the combine is because their use doesn’t show us who the best athlete is. A good athlete may be good in a speed ladder, but a speed ladder doesn’t make you a good athlete.
A faster first step starts with heavy lifting, then it goes to explosive movement, lastly we sprint and move better, and finally we learn how to use our speed of thought better.
Speed of thought?
EXOS, one of the top facilities in the world has done testing on their athletes to recognize who their best athletes were. Eventually it led them to testing as to what truly defines the difference in level.
What they found was that athletes were truly separated by how quickly they could process information and then get their body moving the right way, in the right direction.
Strong man. Quick step
Here is a great example.
Watch a young baseball player swing a bat. With a light enough bat they look fine (low level) as the bat gets heavier and the speed of pitching goes up there is more error (medium level / strength deficit+speed of thought deficit) finally the athlete either gains strength to swing fast enough to make contact, or has faster recognition and can make up for lesser athleticism.
Here we see that bat speed (rate of force development) and pitch recognition (speed of thought) are the biggest contributors to success or failure. You don’t see baseball players improving by playing wiffle ball to get a “faster swing”. This is the same as using a speed ladder for a faster first step or faster reaction.
So go lift.
And challenge yourself to react faster with your brain.
You’ll be amazed at your quicker first step.