Many people confuse speed and quickness, but these are two totally different things. It’s possible to have one without the other, but ideally you’d like to have both.
Quickness is about reacting quickly, changing directions, and moving over a short distance.
Speed, on the other hand, revolves more around strength and power, and deals only with covering a lot of ground quickly in a straight line.
Both speed and quickness require acceleration. And to accelerate quickly requires strong muscles. Both are about explosion, blasting out from your starting position to reach your goal.
However, the similarities end there. When you think of speed, think of a 100 meter sprinter. The only objective is to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible, and everyone knows the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line. So speed is all about moving quickly in a straight line. It’s linear, in other words. Two things matter most for speed: 1) the ability to explode and drive yourself forward, which comes from strong muscles, and 2) proper form and technique, which makes sure your motions are efficient and that you’re not wasting energy.
Quickness, on the other hand, is not about moving quickly in a straight line. It’s about being able to move quickly in any direction. In other words, it’s multi-directional instead of linear. Quickness also entails agility and reaction time. You want your body to respond quickly to what you see on the field or the court.
When thinking about quickness, think of an NFL defensive back. The wide receiver knows exactly where he wants to go, but the DB doesn’t. He has to simply react to what the wide receiver does. So reaction time and agility are key to quickness.
To become faster in terms of speed, you can keep the focus on the two things mentioned above: 1) muscle strength and 2) proper form. Going to the weight room regularly and practicing proper form in practice can help you build speed.
To become faster in terms of quickness, going to the weight room a lot won’t necessarily help. Instead of focusing on your big muscles, quickness requires strength in the small muscles and tendons. Quickness drills and whole-body exercises are the best ways to improve quickness, as they improve your reaction time and condition your body to respond in a certain way.
In summary, speed and quickness are two totally different things, and different methods are required to improve in each area. The good news is that it is possible to improve both your speed and your quickness. You just need to approach each differently and make sure you’re addressing the areas that will make you most successful.