Conditioning vs Speed and Agility Training...

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

Speed and agility... two of the most sought after traits in the sports world. It’s undeniable; the faster, quicker, stronger athlete has the advantage over the athlete who doesn’t posses those skills. In today’s landscape, everyone is looking for a competitive advantage, so parents often hire private coaches with the intention of getting their athlete better. These coaches, often discovered by an internet search or browsing through social media, often come with the promise of improving their athletes "speed and agility", getting them “freakishly strong”, or improving their “footwork”. When done properly, improving speed and agility is a great way to improve overall athleticism. Unfortunately, parents don't know better in terms of what actually goes into improving speed and agility, and sadly, most of the coaches being hired don’t know either. Here’s the reality... If you aren't educated/trained to identify biomechanical deficiencies, correct and improve movement patterns, or teach and reinforce proper sprint mechanics; running the athlete repeatedly, will result in more damage than improvement.

In this post, I will explain the difference between conditioning and speed and agility training while breaking down the inherent risk of sending your athlete to someone who doesn't know the difference and the possible consequences of doing so.


When it comes to conditioning, it doesn't take a highly skilled coach to make an athlete tired or vomit. A few high intensity drills with inadequate rest periods will often do the trick. It does however, take a highly trained coach to get an athlete to reach the optimal level of "sport or performance conditioning ". Every sport has a unique work to rest ratio and a dominant energy system. Keeping in mind the fact that there are different energy systems providing energy for each sport, a qualified coach knows which drills and training methods best prepare an athlete for their particular field of play. Football players, Long distance runners, basketball players and a Soccer player all have different needs regarding energy systems and required work capacities. You CANNOT ask a Hockey player to run a 2 mile run to check his/her conditioning readiness for competition. That method of testing doesn’t transfer over to the athletes sport. A lot of the athletes trained here at Elite Performance Training Systems are football players. Football typically has a 5 seconds of work to 25 seconds of rest, giving that sport a 1:4 or 1:5 work to rest ratio, so all of our conditioning sessions for that sport use that ratio. When it comes to conditioning, our primary goal is to get our athletes conditioned for their particular sport at the speeds at which they will play, just before they begin playing, not 4 months before.

Speed and Agility

When it comes to attaining optimal speed and agility, training the nervous system and refining movement mechanics are paramount. If a coach has no idea how to correct deficiencies, prime the athlete's nervous system and develop the athletes ability to get their body into proper position for speed, they will hurt the athlete more than help them. Having your athlete sprint countless reps will condition them (to an extent) but most importantly, it will limit their potential for speed, as most untrained athletes have improper sprint mechanics. Not correcting deficiencies and sprinting with bad and/or inefficient mechanics will only reinforce that improper movement pattern in to his/her nervous system, increasing the risk of injury and limiting their performance capabilities. While they may get faster, in the short term, they will get only as fast as their improper movement mechanics will allow, and unfortunately they will never be able to unlock their full potential for speed.

In closing, the qualified coach identifies deficiencies, corrects compensation patterns, and knows how to teach proper movement and sprint mechanics.

Contact us today to find out more about our athletic performance training sessions including speed and agility training and strength and conditioning.

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