If you give a team sport coach a few minutes to think about it, they can probably list their players in order from fastest to slowest just by what they see them do in games.
Performance coaches have a much easier time ranking players by speed, because we simply time our kids using laser gates or something similar.
The thing is, these two lists will almost never be identical.
Why would that be?
According to National Hockey League strength & conditioning coach Matt Price, the biggest differentiating factor is an individual's sport IQ.
He defines sport IQ as your ability to quickly and accurately make the right decision in competition.
Being a faster player requires making faster decisions.
If your thinking process does not catch up to your physical ability, you'll either play slower than your potential, or you'll start making more mistakes.
Neither of which will help your athletic career!
Of course athletes want to become as fast as they possibly can, since speed is the greatest weapon you can have at your disposal during competition.
But on its own, stopwatch speed won't translate.
You have to be able to stay focused on the situation around you, so you can accurately process what's truly going on in the shortest time possible.
This means having sport skill and tactical knowledge that is just as advanced as your footwork.
In other words, you must equally train your body and your brain to be fast if you want it to show up in your sport.
Yes, do your speed and agility work to raise your physical potential.
But do it with incredible focus to build your mind up too.
Learn to really dial in to your surroundings in practices and games.
What is your opponent doing?
Can I read my teammates and anticipate what they want to do?
Do I understand my sport and my team's strategies well enough to do my job consistently?
From youth sports up to the pros, coaches worldwide have players whose speed just isn't showing up on game day.
The missing piece is almost always focus, situational awareness, and knowledge of the game.
Work both the physical and the mental, and you'll be playing faster than ever in no time.