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The 5 Fatal Speed and Quickness Mistakes

By Alex On December 9, 2009 Under Speed Agility Training Drills

Hey..hope everything is going cool with you.

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Now, here is the brand-new article from Kelly Baggett himself, entitled “The 5 Fatal Speed and Quickness Mistakes”:

From: Kelly Baggett

1. Choosing volume and intensiveness over intensity

Most athletes think the most important thing they have to do to become great is put the time in. The more hours you spend training the better right? Rumors about Kobe Bryant’s 6 hour per day workouts do little to dispel this myth.

The problem with this is the people who think this applies to all areas inherently always put volume over intensity, and speed and quickness invariably respond better to intensity.

As my friend Lyle McDonald likes to say, “More isn’t necessarily better, better is better”. The fastest athletes in the world sprint a TOTAL of about a mile per week. That’s total PER WEEK not per session or per hour. The typical sprinter’s speed workout will look something like 8 x 60 meters with 3 minutes rest between sprints.

The problem with the more is better mentality is you can train long, or you can train hard, but you can’t do both. Your body has built in mechanisms to prevent you from doing so.

It’s better to train hard for 15 minutes then it is half-assed for 2 hours. Marathon runners run 100 miles per week, are about 10 x slower than sprinters, and often have vertical jumps that average 12 inches.

“Intensity” can be defined as how fast you’re going relative to your best effort.  As a general rule, anything below about 90% of your best effort won’t help you improve. To grasp this in real world terms let’s say your best 40-yard dash is 5.0 seconds. 90% of 5.0 seconds speedwise is 5.28 seconds.

This means if your best 40 is 5.0 seconds anything you run slower than 5.28 won’t do anything to IMPROVE your speed or quickness.

If you decided to go out and run 40-yard dashes with 3 minutes between each sprint how long do you think it would take you to fatigue enough that you couldn’t maintain a 90% speed? 10 or 15 sprints maybe? Try it sometime.

This explains why effective speed and quickness workouts should be relatively short and done with high effort and full recoveries.

“Intensiveness” can be defined as how much intestinal fortitude you’re exerting in your training. Think of an intensive workout as an all out conditioning workout that leaves you heaving in front of the garbage can.

These type of workouts will improve your endurance and can be useful to get the fat off, but the importance of intensity also explains why puke inducing conditioning type training doesn’t do much to actually make you faster or quicker. Let’s use a hypothetical example of a basketball coach having his players run suicides.

He thinks making them run until they pass out will make them faster. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, the average player on this team runs a maximal 30 second suicide. The basketball coach is making them run these suicides with only 30 seconds rest between each.

The first one the run in 30 seconds, the 2nd they run in 33.5 seconds, the 3rd they run in 37 seconds. They end up running 10 suicides and by the time they finish the 10th they’re so exhausted they struggle to finish in 60 seconds.

Now, how many of those suicides actually fall within the 90% speed window? Well, 90 percent of 30 seconds is 33 seconds. So that means they got a grand total of ONE effective speed producing sprint in!

Which means 90% of that workout was a waste of time, at least as far as actually getting faster goes. This partially explains why basketball players are invariably much slower than football players. Believe it or not, the average pro basketball player is literally about as fast as the average NFL defensive tackle.
Keep this in mind with every drill that you do. Productive workouts don’t have to be volumous, nor should they be all that intensive. You should generally take a good rest between reps to maintain quality of effort. Anything done below 90% off your best effort is largely a waste of time.

2. Failing To Realize That What Looks Right Flies Right

“What looks right flies right” is a phrase popularized by the great sprint coach Charlie Francis and is a synonym for the adage that function follows form.

What looks fast tends to move fast. Athletes tend to look like, well, athletes!

If you don’t look like an athlete you’re probably not gonna function like an athlete and the best way to improve your looks is the weight room and dinner table.

Around the world thousands and thousands of athletes are shelling out thousands of dollars training with rubber bands, chains, ladders, high speed treadmills, and all sorts of other gimmicks when they’d be better off changing their somatotope into more of an athletic structure thru lifting and attention to nutrition.

Take an honest look at yourself from a structural and muscular perspective. Do you look like someone who can move with quickness and speed? If not it might be time to pay more attention to your build.

If you’re fat pay more attention to your diet. Most young athletes can drop 10 lbs of fat in a month simply eliminating or limiting cokes, candy, cakes, ice cream, and cereal.

A general rule of thumb is speed and quickness are about 1/2 structural and 1/2 functional. Structural refers to your appearance – what you look like, how much muscle you carry, your overall build, and how strong you are.  Functional refers to how coordinated you are and how well you move.

You get your physique (and your strength) in the weight room and at the dinner table and you get your coordination thru specific speed and quickness drills. You need both and most people neglect one or the other.

I often like to use a racecar analogy when explaining this concept. You can get a car faster either thru modifications to the car itself or by increasing the horsepower with a bigger engine. You can have the best tires in the world on a Honda Civic but throw it on the track against F-1 cars and it will get blown away.

It simply doesn’t have enough horsepower to compete. Are you a Honda Civic or an F-1 race car? Take a look at your strength for an idea.

Good athletes are strong and powerful. I’ve never met an explosively quick athlete that wasn’t also strong. Many naturally good athletes have good natural strength but if you’re not one of them the only way to get that strength (horsepower) is to get in the weight room.

3. Too Much Of An All Or Nothing Mentality

If you go to any health club at the beginning of each year you’ll see an entire gym full of all or nothing types.

The first couple of weeks they’re full of motivation and energy, but as soon as they get overly fatigued from their overly intensive training schedules and rabbit food diets they fall off the wagon and you won’t see them again until the next year. Their problem is they are overly extreme in their approach.

Plenty of all or nothing types choose speed and quickness training as their endeavor of choice.

The prime characteristic of the all or nothing type is they will have multiple occasions over a period of time where they embark on a rigorous program only to stop a few weeks later.

Instead of taking small steps and starting out with a program they can handle, they take on a program that might work for a pro athlete with 15 years of experience and invariably burn themselves out inside of 3 weeks.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit and make training something you do unconsciously.

Thus, it’s much more effective to take small steps that you can easily incorporate rather than make complete lifestyle overhauls that you may or may not be able to keep up with. Instead of going from zero hours of activity per week to 10 hours a week of activity start with an hour every other day.

Many people also have the mindset that the slightest slip up or a single missed workout will prevent them from success. They miss one workout and freak out and proceed to miss the next 2 weeks.

The reality is life happens sometimes. If you fall off the wagon dust yourself off and get right back on.

4. The Head Banger

Head bangers are the type that continually bang their head against the wall getting nowhere.

Their problem is they are very dedicated – almost to the point of fault. They are literally so dedicated and consistent they will bang their head against the wall following something that isn’t working for them for ages and never think of changing.

You do want to be dedicated and train consistently and not expect magic each and every workout, but recovery rates can vary considerably between people so getting the proper dose of exercise dialed in for you can be something that requires a bit of experimentation.

As a general rule if you’ve trained for 2 weeks on a particular routine and aren’t noticing ANYTHING positive whatsoever you need to change something.

The first place I’d look is your recovery. Insert an extra day or 2 of rest each week and try to get more sleep.

5. The Overly Sensitive Type

The Overly sensitive type tends to be very in tune with how his body “feels” at every given moment.

This normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, but the overly sensitive type carries it to such an extreme that he finds productive training difficult.

This the basketball player who thinks lifting weights is bad because immediately after an upper body workout he can’t shoot the ball because his arms are pumped. No amount of logic or reason will convince him otherwise.

Here’s some news for you: Immediately after a good lower body strength training workout you probably aren’t gonna be able to move very fast! Your legs will likely be pumped up and tired. You might be a little sore the next day and not at 100%.

This is perfectly normal and is to be expected. That’s why you take rest days between workouts.

What you’ll eventually find is that strength workout that leaves your legs pumped up and fatigued today actually makes you a lot faster tomorrow.


6. Gimmick Hopping

The gimmick hopper jumps from program to program following each and every gimmick he finds. Gimmick hoppers are the type that buy into each and every over exaggerated advertisement they see.

The funniest gimmick hopping story I’ve heard is from 2 former gimmick hopping brothers who saw an ad in the back of slam magazine for a vertical jump program that promised to increase their vertical by 14 inches in 8 weeks.

They immediately thought, “Wow….What if we follow it for 16 weeks?  That means we’ll be jumping 28 inches higher instead of 14!!!”  They did follow the program for those 16 weeks but instead of an extra 28 inches of jumping ability all they ended up with is 2 pretty good cases of chronic knee pain.

Gimmick hoppers often do train fairly consistently but without any rhyme, reason, or any emphasis on following any established principles with quality work. They think they can train for a month, increase their speed by .4 of a second, move on to the next gimmick, and increase another .4 tenths.

They are the type that will special order a jump squat machine for use in their basement. They’ll train on it for a while but inside of a month they’ll have given that up and will be out running with a parachute.

The next month they’ll be using some electronic gadget, the next month might be rubber bands, and the following month be fooling with a high priced EMS unit. They might get lucky and stumble upon something that actually gives them some results. But because they don’t really enjoy training, they’ll soon burn out on that too.

The speed and quickness industry is chock full of gimmicks.  Don’t fall victim. Successful programs are about principles and involve more than telling you to simple, “Do this”.

For example, moving better, getting more flexible, getting stronger, and recovering properly are principles.  You should learn how to “train” and not just “do programs”. Make training a part of what you do and not just haphazardly do something for 6 weeks before moving on to the next magical gimmick.

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Talk later,


4 comments - add yours

December 9, 2009

Some good points made in this article, plenty to think about. A lot of this also relates to many other aspects of our lives!


December 9, 2009

Dear Sir,

I am a 45yr old masters athlete who is currently training for the world masters indoors in March 2010 and the Masters european outdoor in August 2010.

I am extremely strong in the gym. eg: i do single leg step ups with 150kg, shoulder press 200kg. I do plyometrics. i do a 5ft box jump, 3 foot sigle leg box hop and generally i am in great condition but how can i transfer that into blazing speed and how can i improve footspeed.

My events are the 100m and 200m and my goal is to break the world masters record in both events next year in the M45 catagory. I presently run 11.29 over the 100m and 22.9 over the 200m and recently ran 51.9 in an indoor comp. over the 400m.

I was made redundant so have no money as i would have loved to have purchased your system, thus my seeking advice now,I really hope you can help me and please keep up the good work as your blogs etc have really helped to inspire me, motivate me and most importantly educate me. Thanks in advance.



December 9, 2009

On item #1, running multiple 30 sec. suicides with 1 to 1 1/2 min. rest will not increase your speed or quickness but is ok for conditioning, correct ?


December 13, 2009

This is the best summary of the important things one needs to keep in mind when training for any sport. Of course can’t expect anything less when it is from Kelly! 🙂 Man we are fortunate..really fortunate!

I especially dig #2. I think that is my no1 problem!
Great work Alex! Great work Kelly! God bless you guys!