Thinking About… Speed

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thinking about...speed

When we see a player X executing a skill after moving from point A to point B in a short period of time, we say that player is fast, they possess the quality of speed.  Being able to get from point A to point B in a short period of time is obviously a desirable outcome, so we spend a lot of time training our players’ speed, as well as agility and reactions.  That way our players improve their speed, and obviously their ability to execute a skill once they have completed their movement.  Simple really.

While moving a body fast is a desirable quality in almost every sport, when we watch Player X from our previous paragraph, we are not seeing speed.  What we are really seeing from Player X is watching, identifying and processing the correct cues, understanding the position and role of each of their teammates in the specific game situation, making a decision on the correct course action, moving their body to correct position in the correct time, executing the skill upon arrival.  The movement part of that process is only one small part of it.  But because it is most visible part, it is the part that we are most preoccupied with.

The requirement for effective skill execution is not speed to reach a given position, it is being in that position in the correct moment.  To gain time, you can improve speed.  But you can also better attend to the correct cues.  You can better read and process those cues.  You can better understand the role of teammates.  You can make better decisions.  All of those things give the outward appearance of improving speed, but I would strongly argue that they are much, much easier to train and produce a much more effective outcome.

If you want to be faster, spend less time training speed and more time training reading.

A collection of more Coaching Tips can be found here.

For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.


  1. Hi Mark!
    Do you normally use some special “reading” drills/games or are these just part of the normal games?


    1. It is not the structure of the drill that is important but the focus of attention and feedback.
      Also my practice is almost all 6v6 in some form. I never practice block or defence from boxes. Almost everything is after a real set and spike, with counter attack.
      Feedback to players must be on where they are looking, what they should be seeing, and how they must respond.
      Reading is more important than speed and technique.


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