By: Brandon Kress, CSCS
August 1, 2022
Every athlete wants to be quick, there's no questioning that. But unfortunately not every athlete is quick and many do not know how to train to become quicker. Don’t worry, I can relate. This was an area in my athleticism that I struggled with greatly as a young athlete.
First and foremost I want to differentiate quickness and speed. Being fast doesn't mean you are quick and being quick doesn't mean you are fast. Just like being a world class sprinter doesn't mean you would be able to be quick enough to guard Steph Curry and vice versa. These are separate skills and are trained differently. When we think of speed we are referring to explosiveness, fast acceleration, the ability to produce high levels of force in short periods of time. Quickness on the other hand deals with the ability to limit the amount of time the feet are in contact with the ground when you are trying to move in a specific direction (forward, backward, side-to-side, etc.
Over the course of my career, and having worked with well over a thousand young athletes from just about every sport, here are some of the most important things I have found to help improve quickness.
Let me start by saying that when we want to focus on improving quickness the main thing we want to understand is ground reaction speed. What is that? Well, basically, we are trying to focus on how quickly we can absorb force and subsequently reapply force to get back off the ground as fast as possible. Mastering this skill and developing fast ground reaction speed will help you improve your quickness. So when you are trying to improve quickness, keep the main thing the main thing, and that main thing is ground reaction speed.
So how do we train it? I’m so glad you asked, haha.
Here are 4 drills you can do to start improving your quickness right now!
1. Jump Rope
One of the simplest and best bang for your buck exercises to improve quickness. Why do you think boxers are always seen jumping rope? Quickness, ie. fast ground reaction speeds, are key to effective footwork in the ring and very important when trying to impose your will on your opponent, as well as trying not to get punched in the face, haha.
In its simplest form you can jump rope with both feet at the same time, working to improve the speed of the rope and/or the number of reps you can get within a certain period of time. Set a goal and work toward it (something like 100 jumps in a minute!). Keep it simple at first than progress to more difficult goals as you get better. Other ways to challenge yourself would be to do single leg versions, high knees, side to side jumps, etc.
2. Single Leg Lateral Line Hops
This is a great, and very simple way, to build single leg lateral quickness. In most sports we experience a lot of lateral cutting movements. This drill is great for building lateral strength and stiffness through the ankles, hips and knees.
So find a line and work for a specific period of time. The goal isn’t to progress to longer periods of time but rather to stick to similar periods of time and shoot for a higher number of touches. For instance; shoot for 30 seconds per side and count your reps. Work to increase the number of reps you can get within that time frame. That way you will see how much quicker you are getting over time!!
3. Consecutive Broad Jumps
This version of broad jumps isn’t meant to necessarily improve the distance of your broad jump. Again, that would be looking at max power output, not quickness. The goal here is to cover a moderate amount of distance on each jump and work to get off the ground as quickly as possible on each jump.
One of the keys to improving quickness is to work under minimal load/force absorption and also work under higher loads to help improve quickness in both environments. Because we experience both in sport. For instance, jump rope is the former, quickness with minimal load whereas these consecutive broad jumps is the latter as we add in the factor of greater force in each landing with the same goal of reapplying force as quickly as possible.
These lateral jumps work under the same principle as the consecutive broad jumps. We take lateral quickness into a higher force absorption and production state while still focusing on getting off the ground quickly. Similar to the other drills it is good to set either a specific amount of time or a specific number of reps and measure the opposite. For instance, as many reps as possible in 45 seconds (making sure to mark a set distance for each jump) or 20 reps as fast as possible making sure to time it.
Now listen, I know there are a ton of other drills to help in this area and these options just scratch the surface but I hope by reading through this you have a deeper understanding to the why and how when it comes to improving quickness as an athlete.
As we know, quickness is only one aspect to building a well rounded athlete. At SOMA Performance and Fitness we believe every athlete can obtain their truest and most athletic self. Want to try our program out for FREE!?!
Click the link to access our 1-week FREE Jump Start Program!