Speed Where Art Thou?

February 13, 2017

You can’t help noticing the players on the field or court that are running around like their hair was on fire. Those are the energy guys, players that are the hustlers that don’t stop until they are removed from the game. Those are the players whose bodies run a little hot and need to let loose on opposing players. Can you imagine having a whole team of these types of players? Two things would either happen, the team would implode from chaos or the opposing team would drop from exhaustion. From a marketing standpoint it would put people in the seats but in all serious this experiment doesn’t usually work.

There is not a day gone by when athletic coach doesn’t talk about speed. The Italian physicist Galileo Galilei is credited with being the first to measure speed by considering the distance covered and the time it takes.  The opposite of speed is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion. Speed will always be a go to strategy for all sports but can never be the means to all ends. The slower teams will always try to slow things down and send the high energy teams into a spastic frenzy. On the other side of the coin, the slower methodical teams will dictate game flow many times but will get exposed when high wire acts rattle their cages.   The best teams that can win championships are the ones that adapt to either style and can turn on the switch when needed. You see this most often in the playoff rounds of sports when the winner dictates game flow.

Speed without precision and inertia is reckless and worthless. Show me player that is quick and skilled and you will see a player that is worthy of a lot of playing time.  It doesn’t matter if that player is 350 pounds, if he can outmaneuver his opponent with his speed then you will be looking at a highly desirable player.

In the NFL, you have the two-minute offense and the hurry up offense.   There is a reason they only play it for two minutes or for limited plays. In the world of football, you can only ride your players so long before you wear them down. There have been plenty of experiments in high school, college and football where accelerated play calling is used and has been successful.   Unfortunately, is can only be sustained so long before that team either sustains too many injuries or they get out-strategized by superior talent.

In most team sports, the accelerated play mode gets used as much as the talent level allows them to.   If you have a team of gazelles why wouldn’t try to tire out the other team   It’s usually makes for a good contest when you see the gazelles playing against the methodical task masters.  In the NBA all the rage is the “Small Ball Offense” which pits your guards and smaller forwards against the teams with the big front court presence.    What is driving a lot of the older NBA player’s nuts is that you are seeing small guys against small guys.  They cry, “Where’s the Beef?”   Where are the dunks?  Why all the three-point shots?   Owners are saying, “Why do I need to have all big guys on my team eating me out of house and home?”

In baseball, it’s hard to think of a baseball game being accelerated but there are plenty of teams in history that have utilized team speed as their biggest weapon. When teams don’t have the big home run hitters they have to rely on small ball. (Here is that term again)  Give me a team with guys that can steal bases on a regular basis and I will show you a team that scores runs.   Ricky Henderson the best base stealer of all time could steal bases so often that I consider him the best leadoff hitter of all time and one of the best players as well.

Lastly, when it comes to our mundane daily lives, we are always to avoid the resistance to our forward motion desires. Everybody wants speed. When we are able to harness our speed and fly, great things happen. Just try to use it wisely and not become the rabbit in Aesop’s fables.