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  • Steven Shuster, MS, CISSN

So You Want to be Fit: Speed

Speed is the final topic in the 5 fundamental components of fitness. Unlike skill, speed is a bit more obvious. Perhaps the most recognizable show of speed is running quickly in a straight line. Expressions of speed are varied, however, and include much more than just a fast pace. Acceleration, change of direction, reaction time, etc… are all displays of speed. Speed is arguably the trait that is most responsible for stratifying athletes into the different levels in many sports.

There are many who believe that speed is something that cannot be trained - you are either quick or you are not. But this is not true. Though some people are innately faster than others (just as some are stronger or more supple), speed can certainly be trained and everyone can get faster with proper training. That includes all aspects of speed: top speed, acceleration, reaction time, to name a few.

There is an old adage that says, “Speed kills.” But that is incomplete. Speed kills those who do not have it. In nearly every physical activity, more speed helps.

Although important for some athletes, speed is not just about being able to beat an opponent to the ball or to a place on the field/court/etc... It is also about showing strength sooner. Having better speed allows you to react quicker and to recruit strength faster than your competition. Having better speed is all about having quicker access to your strength, however you choose to direct it.

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