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The speed (ancient: the Fast ) is one of the motor basic properties and conditional skills in sports .

Its counter-term is slowness .


According to the sports scientist Dietrich Martin , speed in athletic movements is the ability to react to a stimulus or a signal in the shortest possible time and to carry out movements at the highest speed , even against resistance .

A distinction is usually made between speed of action and speed of reaction .

Responsiveness in athletics can e.g. B. train through starting exercises with a short, quick start.


The speed of reaction is the psychophysical ability to react quickly to stimuli and signals. This means the time from the reception of the stimulus to the implementation of the movement.

Phases of reaction

According to Vladimir Michajlovic Zaciorskij (1974) the individual phases are described as follows:

  1. Appearance of excitation on the nerves of the sense organs
  2. Transfer of excitation to the CNS ( brain , especially spinal cord )
  3. Information processing speed
  4. Triggering a command - "effectoral signal"
  5. Transmission of the command to the muscle
  6. Execution of the reaction to the event

Types of reactions

There are also two types of body reactions:

  • Simple response: specific response to a specific stimulus
  • Choice reaction: Situation-related reaction to a stimulus

In the first form, the athlete is prepared for the stimulus; H. he is ready to react ( awareness of the senses ). However, this is only guaranteed if the program sequence remains the same (example: sprint run). Through training, the athlete can train his or her ability to react or shorten the reaction time.

In the second form of the reaction, the athlete has to choose between different movement possibilities in response to the stimulus.

Example: badminton :

  • Impact has coordinated be
  • Stick position and timing must be chosen

With these three criteria, there are several options that the player must coordinate. In the selection reaction, however, the player can shorten the reaction time through anticipation by minimizing the possible reactions (e.g. by observing the opponent's stick position in badminton). However, this movement requirement requires that the player

  • Has experience in the sport,
  • Can anticipate situations in his team,
  • can see through the tactics of the opponent,
  • has or
  • automated the reaction movements.

Maximum acyclical and cyclical speed

A distinction is made between two forms of movements in terms of speed:

  • acyclic: short (fast) movement, e.g. B. the tennis stroke
  • cyclic: cycle of movements, e.g. B. Sprint run, where the cyclical speed is divided into individual acyclical movements.

The latter ability is based on mechanical, biological and mental factors; you can call it the ability to coordinate. Performing an acyclic movement is not an act of “art”, but agonistic and antagonistic movement (flexor and straightener). However, it is (initially) a challenge to incorporate these movements from the motor center in the cerebral cortex into a cyclical movement sequence (program draft) and thus to achieve maximum performance. The speed of information processing and the inhibition by the respective antagonist (muscle) play a special role here. While z. For example, up to 7 revolutions / second can be achieved on the stationary bike, hardly more than 2.2 revolutions / second are possible during the sprint and the turns on the pommel horse .

Biological foundations

Speed ​​depends on the following biological requirements:

  • Nerve line speed for response time
  • Intramuscular factors: viscosity (suppleness, intramuscular frictional resistance, temperature), pH value (hyperacidity of the muscle), synchronous activation of as many motor units as possible in a muscle ( intramuscular coordination )
  • Muscle fiber structure: It is characterized by the genetically determined ratio of ST fibers (slow twitch fibers = slowly contracting) and FT fibers (fast twitch fibers = fast contracting); A high proportion of FT fibers is a prerequisite for high speed performance
  • Energy supply: Distinction between aerobic = energy supply with oxygen and anaerobic = without oxygen; The basis for speed performance is the anaerobic E. provision through the splitting of ATP & KP (in the first seconds of muscle contraction = anaerobic alactic acid, subsequently anaerobic lactic acid)

The speed of the cyclical reaction depends on the following factors:

  • Speed ​​of the individual movements
  • Condition , strength at the start (acceleration)
  • resistance

Speed ​​training

The training of speed takes place through the use of speed-oriented exercises. The speed training follows the differentiation in reaction and movement speed.

The phases with the highest rates of increase in the elementary speed aspects of reaction, frequency and reactive speed can be found in children from 7 to 10 years of age.

Training basics

  • Speed ​​training generally after an intensive warm-up in the first main part of the training unit
  • The training load is characterized by the ratio of maximum or sub-maximum intensity - low volume - complete recovery (recovery pulse approx. 110 bpm) - load methods = repetition method / intensive interval method
  • Training the three influencing factors:
  • Sprint strength : Training the sprint under difficult conditions using the repetition method and in connection with strength training.
  • Sprint speed : Realization of the basic principle that speed can ultimately only be achieved through speed training.
  • Sprint endurance : increasing resistance to fatigue.

Reaction training

  • Warming up before the exercise and tensioning the muscles increase the speed of reaction
  • Train all sports motor skills
  • Games with acoustic and optical signals (e.g. sprinting from prone position to signal)

See also


  • Zaciorskij, VM The Influence of Physical Activity on Lifespan (Russian) (Literature Review) Theory and Practice of Physical Culture, Moscow, (1988)

Web links

Wikiquote: Speed  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. Arnd Krüger : Sprinting ability and information processing capacity of humans, in: The teaching of athletics 30 (1979), No. 44/45.