Speed & Skill: Are you training too fast?

A teacher once told me ‘Speed is a compensation for a lack of skill.’

The more I train, the more I see the truth in this.

If you depend on speed and strength, you are not skillful. Skill comes from appropriate responses with appropriate timing in a given situation. This requires sensitivity to your environment. Sensitivity comes from relaxation, and relaxation comes from breathing and training slowly. When the body and psyche are relaxed, they can make more appropriate decisions in the moment and move with less effort.

Constantly training fast and hard creates excessive tension in the body. If the muscles are not organized to tense and relax appropriately for the task at hand, your movement may lead to injury and other health issues.

Relaxation will actually make you faster...

If you learn to relax in a movement it can become more explosive. Relaxation allows for appropriate timing. Once you are tense or take a stance/form you are organized and committed to a finite number of movements. Any disruption in this movement requires you to stop, think, and re organize yourself again before being able to act. It could also result in falling, injury, or pain. So if you are relaxed and loose, the muscles can take more sensory input to the brain, and you can change direction, and process your environment easier. Sensitivity guides us to move in more appropriate patterns.

If you ever watch a professional athlete, musician, dancer, or martial artist perform, they are usually very relaxed. Whether this is the result of proper training or a natural state that some of us are born with is irrelevant. It works, its obtainable, and it is inspiring to see the human machine at its best. You don’t have to be a professional mover or artist to obtain this skill- you just need to train properly.

This concept can also be applied to our social lives. If we are in a hurry, take a hard stance on an issue, and act without relaxing first- we make mistakes, say things we don’t mean, and come off as someone who is out of control or stressed out. This doesn’t inspire any confidence in that person’s ability. If everything we do comes from a place of relaxation, we can act more appropriately, make better decisions, and people will have more trust in our judgement. And we will be healthier too!

What is more important is quality of the work you do, not the quantity or how fast.