In the Batters Box with Brad Taylor: Issue 5 Speed Versus Quickness, A Race Seldom Run (Pd Adv)

July 6, 2020 - This letter is not directed just to coaches, parents, and grandparents of kids playing baseball and softball, but to every parent living in Shelby County. The following is vital to you as a caregiver to your young.

If you are a parent with a child age seven to seventeen, ask your child this question:

“If you had your choice, would you rather be the fastest boy or girl in the world, or the quickest boy or girl in the world?”

Before your son or daughter responds, ask them to think about that question, give you their answer, then tell you “why” they chose that answer.

The overwhelming choice among younger children will be “the fastest.” Only when a youth matures enough to analyze the value of his or her options, will he or she truly understand the nature of each choice.

If your child indeed does answer “the fastest,” and you as a parent realize that only a small minority of our population enters sports as a profession, ask your child “outside of sports, what can sheer foot speed do for you as you go through life?”

SPEED: (the act or state of moving swiftly)

Primarily a natural gift. Running, running, running will create only a marginal improvement. But, early in life speed will “top off,” then slow down. When a man reaches age thirty, he should be entering his prime years for productivity, but for foot speed he will be in his declining years. Too soon in life extreme speed will disappear.

QUICKNESS: (the state of being quick---sharpness---keenness of mind)

Not a natural gift, quickness is nurtured by the brain, and the brain is like a vast, fertile under-populated country begging to be discovered.

Quickness is a product of mental acuity, the ability to think more quickly, to respond more quickly, to act more quickly.

In life, a person who is quicker than others will recognize solutions to problems much more rapidly than the norm. They will be more confident in crises than others, and they will enjoy mental awareness far later in life than those with less sharp mental responses.

And, unlike exceptional speed, unmatched quickness can be taught and learned.

Human beings are naturally equipped with “Conscious Actions” and “Involuntary Reflexes.”

A “conscious action” is any order directed by the brain---as simple as picking up a pencil. The brain orders the hand to pick up the pencil, creating a delay, however slight, for the hand to obey the order. That is a “conscious action.”

“Involuntary reflexes” do not require a directive from the brain. A common “involuntary reflex” is eye blinking. Get very close to someone, fake a slap to his face. His blinking and recoiling will be immediate, not requiring a slower “conscious action.”

If, instead of using surprise, you had said to that person, “blink,” thereby creating a “conscious action” for him, the delay though difficult to measure, would have resulted in a slower response on his part.

Bottom line: to generate superior quickness, the “conscious action” must be trained to respond as promptly as possible to the actions of the “involuntary reflex.”

Training of that kind is now available in Shelby County, but success is more easily attained when the subject is age seven, rather than age seventeen.

Study the following:

In baseball or softball, a batter with average/normal quickness must process and begin his commitment to a pitch earlier in its flight than must a batter with exceptional quickness.

It follows quite naturally that the “normal” batter must begin swinging at a ball that is farther away from him, where he thinks the ball will be when it reaches his bat, while the batter with quicker responses can wait longer, even if only incrementally longer, then commit later to a pitch---with a much greater degree of accuracy.

An unfortunate fact: Batters with natural quickness deficiencies have less hope of someday becoming successful hitters.

1.  In sports, quickness is the countermeasure to speed---every time.
2. The perfect sports marriage? Quickness and speed---in the same body.

Quickness drills:

For interested students there are twelve drills, none too difficult for even the youngest child. These drills consist of six mental drills and six physical drills, and all drills must be conducted under conditions that force the student to make decisions controlled by time constraints.

What are time constraints? If a child is given all day to answer a question, quickness progress would not be possible. I will explain in full a typical mental drill, one that every boy and girl will struggle with, totally enjoy, and before long will master in every respect.

The three-meter platform jump:

Center doesn’t have a city-owned swimming pool, but this is how it would go. A young boy let us say he is ten years old. He climbs up to the high dive and is told to jump. As soon as he starts his jump, he looks out and sees a flashcard with two numbers, like 16 and 19, in front of his eyes. He must call out “thirty-five,” before he hits the water, a really tough assignment for any kid, even more so for a younger boy or girl.

The first eight or ten times that boy tries that drill, he’ll be under the water mad that he didn’t come up with the right answer on time. But, before long, he will see the ever-changing numbers and call out the answers as quickly as his eyes will see them. Guaranteed.

That drill is one of twelve, each different from the others, but all designed to develop superior mental acuity, a far better and longer lasting reward than outstanding speed.

Have you ever heard of “alphabet values?” How about “finger switch?” Maybe “dollar drop?” Or perhaps “serial numbers recognition?” All Greek to you, right?

Call me if you would like to see such a program for the youths in our county.

On a lighter note, concerning the importance of quickness, I have included a list of sports and their obvious levels of quickness essentials. I am sure you can study those sports among others and identify many that I may have overlooked.

Have fun.

The Quickest Ones

Which sports require athletes with the most extreme quickness, reactions, responses, and decision making? Many athletes would obviously choose their own sport---natural, but not necessarily sound reasoning.

For the sake of sheer enjoyment, I have compiled a list of sports of which we are all familiar, and I have ranked them (in my opinion only) from the top three to other popular sports.

While setting my rankings, I have totally distinguished the difference between “quickness” and “speed.” In this forum, blinding foot speed has no bonding with extreme quickness. Foot speed, as important to an athlete as it is, has less overall value to most athletes when compared to quickness.

Number one is almost a tossup between tennis and ice hockey, but I have selected tennis for one reason. I can recall the many times I have watched two tennis pros “barely” across the net from each other, and seeing the ball go back and forth at speeds most viewers cannot begin to follow, four, five, six times, both players reacting so quickly, it was impossible to keep up with their movements. That is truly quickness to the max.

Number two, or number one to many of their fans, is ice hockey. It is incredible to watch the spontaneous reactions of the goalie on short shots, on redirected shots, on shots where he is blinded by the mass of players in front of him. Or the other players when they are forced to react to a fast-moving puck from a teammate. Hockey’s quickness never seems to let up. In truth, concerning quickness, hockey does not have to take a back seat to any other sport,

Number three is girls’ softball. This was not a difficult decision for me. The sheer closeness, or proximity of the infielders to a well-struck ball, and the quickness they display is truly impressive. Of course, men are normally larger and stronger, but if they tried to play the game from the same distance as ladies, someone would be maimed or killed.

Following the initial three, I have listed a number of sports, (in no particular order), with their own needs for extreme quickness.

Baseball-----the infield corners---third base---first base.
Volleyball----defensive “digs” on hard spikes.
Soccer-----goalie reactions on short kicks.
Football----runner hitting the holes---offensive linemen on short spurts---defensive reactions.
Basketball----initial moves---defensive reactions.
Golf-----NO----extreme quickness is destructive.
Figure skating (ice)----NO----timing and rhythm are more valuable.
Ice curling----NO----broom sweeping somewhat---but nothing else.

Brad Taylor
(281) 216-1048