"Quickness under control is the most valuable physical aspect of any sport" John Wooden
John Wooden is one of, if not the best coach of all time. I re-discovered this quote recently and have decided to base my philosophy of training around this idea. In any sport whether it's tennis, basketball, golf, etc. you must be under control. This goes for both physical and mental realms. Physically you must manage your center of gravity (COG). While training or playing your sport notice where you feel out of position and where you could adjust your COG. Mentally you must stay on an even keel to stay in control. Don't get caught up in the hype or with your emotions. Preparing mentally with a game plan will help to keep you focused.
Quickness often determines the level you can reach. Now don't confuse speed with quickness. Raw speed means how fast can you run in one direction such as the 40 yard dash and 100 meter dash. These are very irrelevant to sport since you often have to change direction. Quickness is characterized as explosive acceleration from a stationary position (Twist, 1997), often based off of reaction time. This is associated with the ability to start, stop and change direction. Physical quickness can be developed by improving power, strength, and movement efficiency. Mental quickness is also a skill that can be approved through experience. Learning to make smart decisions at a faster rate can separate a good player from a great player.
All four factors, physical quickness, mental quickness, physical control mental control are integrated to create the athlete. If you are physically quickness improves, the game slows down a step improving your mental control and ability to make solid decisions. If your mental quickness can improve, your ability to control your body will increase because your decisions are made at a quicker rate allowing more time to get control over your body. All factors integrate together, but find your weakest link out of the four and own it. My guess is if your weakest link improves the other factors will improve as well without even addressing them specifically.
This Quickness Under Control philosophy can only work if you train movements. You must focus on movement and don't be afraid to push beyond your comfort level while practicing. Stay in the realm of control but don't be afraid to put your body in a state of discomfort. My friend Alan Stein likes to say "Temporary Discomfort leads to permanent improvement."
Come back next week for a video about core training and why sit ups and crunches are some of the worst way to train your abs!