Here he comes
Here comes Speed Racer
He’s a demon on wheels
Peter Fernandez, Speed Racer Theme Song
“I was taught to hit the ball as hard as I could, and find the court later.”
Andre Agassi, winner of all four major tennis titles.
Do you hear fans screaming, “Just get it in!”
If you are concerned with winning, that may be a good formula at lower levels. At higher levels, and for teams concerned with learning rather than winning, full speed is an important teaching tool.
Consider that motor learning tells us, we do that which we practice. Physical learning is all about specificity. If you are working only in slow speed, the player must eventually re-learn the skill at a faster speed (unless of course they stay slow forever.)
“Speed first” helps young players in another way; often a player doesn’t serve well, or set high enough, or have a high elbow when hitting. These common “problems” are often due to speed and timing, not strength. A coach’s feedback might simply be, “go faster.” Certainly strength helps you go faster. Often a player has enough strength, and they haven’t been asked to use it.
Brett Widman was Matt Anderson’s high school coach, and has coached a handful of high level D1 recruits. He says to the boys, when they are first learning to hit, “If you hit it out or in the net, hit harder next time. If you error again hit it harderer. If you error again hit it your harderest.”
“Control comes with experience. “