Today I have a special guest post from speed development expert Lee Taft. This article covers an important topic, the distinction between quick feet and athletic quickness. As a reminder, you can save $100 off his new “Complete Speed Training” system until this Friday (2/13).

Complete Speed Training

Grab your copy here >> Complete Speed Training

Quick Feet vs. Athletic Quickness

If we really take a close look at a coaching session for quickness it is quite possible we could see two to three different approaches. In one case we might see a coach using many fun and creative tools that focus on foot quickness. For example; the speed ladder, rings, dot drills, and many other pieces of equipment are often used for athletes to challenge how quickly they can move their feet. So the training revolves around improving the ability to perform various drills as quickly as possible using sharp foot quickness drills.

Foot Quickness Drillsperforming drills that challenge the athlete’s ability to move the feet as quick as possible through a drill. An example of tools commonly used are ladders, dot drills, and agility rings. The body posture of the athlete is based on the need to move the feet quickly in the drill.

Athletic Quickness Trainingathletes are taught things such as plant foot angles, shoulder control, mass and momentum control, and load to explode principles so reaccelerating as quickly as possible is the goal. The skills learned will translate to court and field quickness

Another form of coaching athletes for quickness might focus around teaching the athletes to change their direction of travel as quickly as possible so they can display multi-directional quickness. In this form of coaching the instructor helps the athlete understand how “reacceleration” is critical if great court and field quickness is the goal. The instructor might talk about plant angles, controlling shoulder sway, and loading the joints properly so a direction change is explosive.

There is a third approach a coach can use to increase a combination of foot quickness and athletic quickness. In this approach the athlete might use a tool like the speed ladder and tie together quickness of foot with body positioning and plant angles to gain the best of both worlds. To do this coach wants to hold the reigns back on the athlete when going through the ladder, so simply going 100 miles an hour isn’t the focus. The focus needs to be on sound cutting or change of direction mechanics at a pace that would be consistent in sport- so don’t always go fast, sometimes use change of pace to set up a move. In this style of coaching quick feet with athletic quickness the athlete can get tons of reps by using a tool like the ladder but still have the emphasis be on the pureness of athletic quickness.

With the advent of really cool speed and agility equipment often comes the neglect of pedagogy. When coaches rely on the “tool” doing the work for them and no longer focus on biomechanics of movement, force production/reduction, and mass and momentum factors skill coaching gets lost.

I am one that believes there is a place for all kinds of quickness training. I also believe you have to know why and when to use the exercises you choose. Performing pure quickness drills that make the feet “buzz” back and forth are great when you are trying to ramp up the nervous system and build energy into your athletes. I also think random drills that only demonstrate quick footwork can be a waste of time when the athlete might be better served working on athletic quickness.

Always remember that Drills are a conduit to Skills. The skill must be chosen first based on what it is that must be improved during that practice. Once the skill work is established the drills can be chosen. An example of this would be lateral change of direction quickness for a tennis athlete. The skill needing improvement is recovering from a wide groundstroke and getting back to the center of the court. The drill that is chosen must represent the abilities needed. These abilities are a wide plant foot to stop momentum and redirect it, a directional step which allows the crossover to be used to accelerate quickly, and shuffle mechanics so she can be prepared to change direction based on the opponent’s groundstroke direction.

As we can see coaching quickness can take on many faces. It is up to the coach to understand the value of the method. Quickness is a great thing to watch when it is explosive! So know what the athlete needs, know how to teach it, and get ready to take your athlete to the next level…Quickly!

 Complete Speed Training Online Package

Grab your copy here >> Complete Speed Training


To your success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!

I hope this finds you well. As you can likely tell, the new year has been exceptionally busy. We’ve been having a lot of fun at Endeavor as we have a bunch of soccer and lacrosse teams training with us in preparation for the start of their season, and are working on a couple exciting projects. Unfortunately, that has left almost no time for me write.

Last week I had an opportunity to review an advance copy of Lee Taft’s new “Complete Speed Training” program. Over the last decade I’ve read a bunch of Lee’s work. If you’re seeing his name for the first time, Lee has been widely regarded as one of the leading speed experts in our field for years. He knows his stuff, which is why I blocked out a few hours of my schedule to dive into his new program.

Complete Speed Training

Grab your copy here >> Complete Speed Training

This is NOT speed training

When I first started reading books and articles about speed training, so much of my focus was on learning new “quickness” drills, primarily using cones and ladders. My thought process was pretty simple: sports involved a lot of acceleration and transitional patterns, so focusing on quickness should transfer positively to athletic performance.

There are two fundamental problems with this line of thinking:

  1. In order to improve speed, you must know what’s limiting it
  2. When you focus so much on quick foot movement, you lose sight of the rest of the body

The idea that just doing more sprints will make you faster is as flawed as it is pervasive. Speed (or speed development) can be limited by a number of things, including joint mobility, joint stability, mechanics, strength, and when it comes to being able to demonstrate speed consistently in a game, conditioning.

In youth athletes, the primary two limitations I see most commonly are mechanics and strength, of which the strength component is the most often overlooked by parents and coaches. Speed comes down to being able to put force into the ground to propel the body forward. If you can’t produce a lot of force, you can’t be fast. That’s not an opinion; it’s physics.

One of the ways athletes compensate for not being able to produce a lot of force is by over-striding. The general thought is that if they lengthen their stride, they’ll cover more ground with each step. This is true in theory, but when the stride is lengthened by reaching forward, it both increases the braking forces with each stride (the foot hits the ground way out in front of the body, essentially pushing the body backward like a kickstand on a bike) and the risk of injury (this is how hamstrings on the front leg and quads on the back leg get torn).

Having athletes with these limitations simply run more sprints/cone drills/ladders will not help them improve their speed any appreciable amount and may lead to an injury.

THIS is speed training

This is one of the things I loved about Complete Speed Training. Not only does Lee walk through a very comprehensive warm-up, which would help address some of the more common mobility and stability limitations, but he dissects linear, lateral, and transitional movements from a whole body perspective AND integrates speed training drills within a more comprehensive training program that includes strength training and conditioning.

I took a lot away from watching the videos, but here are a few of the highlights:

  1. Proper sprinting mechanics all starts with posture. The athlete needs to be able to get into and hold the right body positions. This can be trained statically before being integrated more dynamically.
  2. Coaches go out of their way a lot of times to correct foot positions that are actually advantageous to the athlete moving quicker. Let athletes open their foot up while shuffling sideways and don’t correct the drop step when they’re starting from a standstill.
  3. Arm motion can be used to drive leg motion. Cue faster arm actions to facilitate more powerful strides.
  4. A lot of his cues were on “covering ground” not on “quick feet”.
  5. Best review of transitional speed mechanics I’ve ever seen. Teaches linear, lateral, crossover, and “retreating” skills with simple, but effective drills. I especially liked the emphasis on keeping shoulders square to a target while covering ground laterally.

Tomorrow I have a great guest article from Lee looking at the difference between quick feet and athletic quickness. In the meantime, Complete Speed Training is available at a $100 discount through Friday 2/13. This is an outstanding resource, so if you’re interested in learning effective speed training techniques, getting a quality training program, and saving some loot, grab a copy today!

Complete Speed Training

Grab your copy here >> Complete Speed Training


To your success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!

I think the greatest display of pure bliss the human race ever encounters is when a young kid is handed a tall cone of delicious ice cream on a hot day. You see their eyes get bigger as the cone approaches their hands, and after a couple licks they get that sugar-enhanced look of psychotic happiness.

But from time-to-time, this happens:

and third-party bystanders get to observe the rapid reversal of the aforementioned progression of joy and the inevitable hysteria-driven water works and siren-like harmony that emerge from the kid.

This circumstantial description closely resembles the emotional roller coaster I went on recently when I found out about the 2010 Midwest Performance Enhancement Seminar.

Check out the presenters/schedule for this event:

9:00 – 10:00 – Brian Grasso: We’re Killing Kids! Why Current Sports Performance Training Methods are Stupid

10:10 – 11:10 – Lee Taft: How to Load the System for Functional Speed

11:20 – 12:20 – Mike Robertson: The Single-Leg Solution

12:20 – 1:30- Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 – Pat Rigsby: Finding Hidden Opportunity in Your Fitness Business

2:40 – 3:40 – Bill Hartman: Energy System Training for Field Athletes

4:30 – 5:30 – Brett Jones: Kettlebell Basics: How to Integrate Kettlebells Into Your Strength & Conditioning Program

With a list like this, the big question is “How much?” Incredibly, the seminar only requires a $149 investment (that is-if I registered before July 24th…plenty of time). Before reading any further about the seminar I opened up my go-to barrage of flight tabs to price shop on the cheapest flight possible from Baltimore to Indianapolis.

Full of ice-cream induced child-like excitement, I returned to the 2010 Midwest Performance Enhancement Seminar page to see when it was so I could book my flight and that’s when it hit me. The schedule gods batted that cone out of my hand like Ben Wallace protecting his net.

Unfortunately for me, the seminar is on August 28th, which is the weekend Emily and I are moving from Baltimore to Philadelphia (fortunate for me). Yes, after 15 months of commuting two hours from our place in Baltimore to Endeavor in South Jersey, we’re making the move to save my hips and sanity, and to move closer to where Emily wants to go to grad school. It’s just bad timing.

I’m pretty bummed I can’t make it…but that doesn’t mean you can’t! The list of presenters is really amazing; you’d have to be crazy (or moving) to miss this. Check out the link below for more information.

=> 2010 Midwest Performance Enhancement Seminar <=

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!