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The Difference Between Quickness and Speed

By Alex On July 14, 2009 Under Speed Agility Training Drills

I was at the gym earlier today, talking to a guy who was doing a bunch of random plyometric drills because he wants to play better in his pickup basketball games and because he “wants to jump like LeBron”.

Now, while I was immediately tempted to verbally abuse this dude because he could train for the next 20 years, take every banned substance known to man and put “flubber” in his white Nike’s and there’s no way he was ever going to jump like LeBron, I took the high road and got to rambling.

I started to explain to him that he could definitely jump-start his athleticism for his pick-up games by focusing on his speed and quickness.

I began to show him some basic tests and exercises he could do for speed and quickness, when he jumped in and said, “Wait. Aren’t they the same thing?”

(My Immediate Thought: “…oh boy, here we go..”)

But, I politely explained to him that, no, they are not the same thing, but both kick butt and both can be improved BIG-TIME.

Let’s get into this:

I’ll start first with the obvious notion that…


Put together, these 2 fiery compounds combine to make a scary and rare substance that makes guys like Jay Bilas and Mel Kiper Jr. dance around and argue like they’re trying to come to a Middle East settlement.

Quickness is your ability to voluntarily react and move in a short distance, and in a time-sensitive manner.

Crossover dribble? Quickness.

7-Step drop? Quickness.

Jump back to first-base after a big lead off? Quickness.

Speed, on the other hand, is much more power-based, and involves more of your body-weight in high force situations.

40-Yard Dash? Speed.

Stealing second base? Speed.

Turning a screen pass into a 40-yard gain? Speed (actually, that could probably end up being a combo, if you’re anything like my guy Barry Sanders).

Those are just a few of a million simple examples (and I LOVE examples..it’s so easy to learn when you can visualize what’s someone talking about).

And NOW, I want to hear YOUR examples.

What to you is Speed? What to you is Quickness?

Give me just ONE comment and I’ll be back in a couple days with some TESTS to see which one you’re better at RIGHT NOW, speed or quickness?

(And then, based on those TESTS, you can know exactly what you’re deficient in, and what YOU need to work on!).

I’ve got the info here waiting for you, let’s see some comments.


10 comments - add yours

July 16, 2009

speed is more of a gliding, fluid fast PACE
quickness is precisely the ability to BURST and ACCELERATE with agility

Thanks for posting about this, I would love to read more about this topic.


July 24, 2009

My idea of speed requires the ability to move from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time. This requires powerful muscles which enable a sustained or increasing powerful “blast off” effect for a particular distance. This fast movement is achieved by strength, mechanics and the proper development of the fast twitch muscles. Most fast people are also considered to be genearally physically strong( see an Olympic sprinter). Generally speaking, even fast milers are considered strong when compared to a less accomplished miler. However, being fast does not necessarily mean that person is also quick.

Quickness -as I see it- is a person’s ability to react to a stimulus. It is an almost reflexive action. For example, if someone literally lights a fire under someone’s @$$ the moment that fire burns that @$$, the immmediacy of movement is how quickly that person moves their burning @$$ from the fire. It may only require an inch or a foot but it requires an immediate reaction to the stimulus.

A sprinter may be fast but loses races because of poor starts due to a lack of quickness in their response to the starter’s command. Also, a basketball player might always lead a fast break but can’t shake his defender in the half court. The ballplayer may not move well diagonally or laterally or can’t seem to get back to the middle of the court to free himself once his defender has cut off the baseline. So quickness requires an ability to recognize, react and coordinate a movement almost simultaneously. This type of movement requires muscular flexibility, a well developed body electrical system between the brain and muscles( I took the brain, muscle connection to be the part you speak about in the DVD,along with sight and hearing, that can’t be taught), movement agility as well as sharp eyes and hearing. You can be very quick without being considered strong. However, to have both aka your Barry Saunders example or a young AI is scarey!!!


July 24, 2009

@Bullhusky- AWESOME.

Want to guest blog for me? 🙂


July 25, 2009

In my humble opinion, it’s roughly how much power you can generate and comtinue to hold over a period of time. With the basketball analogy, your right about Steve Nash and his quickness, primarily because he doesn’t have alot of ground to cover or need to have that “power for a long time”, I’d say the same thing about Volleyball, love the sport but it’s more about lower body quickness … those first several steps … and upper body power for quick hits.

In track, quickness leads to power , hence the reaction time from the gun. In the 100 and 200, you better be able to transition fast or you will lose if you can’t amintain your speed longer then the other person.

I agree with Bull huskey, Barry Sanders had fantastic quickness just like Walter Payton, but neither was a speed burner, but could maintain their speed endurance longer because it seems they knew what their weaknesses were, and worked more on their strengths.

I love the working on the stimulus factor for quickness and improving on the that to lead to power, hence longer greater speed.

keep risin to the top!


December 4, 2009

i gotta question, now that i know the difference between speed and quickness, and i know how to gain speed, i’m wondering if they are strenght exercices in the truth about quickness systeme i want to buy it but i’m hesitate because of this.

i want gain speed and quickness at the same time(if it’s possible of course)


December 6, 2009

@Stephen, there are strength workouts included in The Truth About Quickness and, yes, gaining quickness AND speed simultaneously is a common result of the Truth About Quickness workouts.

Wait until this Tuesday to get TAQ though…there’s some REALLY *exciting* news coming (make sure you’re on my email list to hear about it).

Solomon Smith

October 20, 2010

Speed is going from one distance to another fast, quickness is more reaction, some people are quick, but slow.


October 21, 2010

@Bullhusky -This type of movement requires muscular flexibility, a well developed body electrical system between the brain and muscles( I took the brain, muscle connection to be the part you speak about in the DVD,along with sight and hearing, that can’t be taught)

Sight and hearing can be trained for improvement and are critical for reflexive quickness to sports stimuli. Try sensory training.

Speed is generally for longer duration or distance while quickness is for immediate action within proximal distance.


October 21, 2010

In sports, speed is generally for longer duration or distance while quickness is for immediate action within proximal distance.