Polarized assembly of actin filaments forms the basis of actin-based motility and is regulated both spatially and temporally. Cells use a variety of mechanisms by which intrinsically slower processes are accelerated, and faster ones decelerated, to match rates observed in vivo. Here we discuss how kinetic studies of individual reactions and cycles that drive actin remodeling have provided a mechanistic and quantitative understanding of such processes. We specifically consider key barbed-end regulators such as capping protein and formins as illustrative examples. We compare and contrast different kinetic approaches, such as the traditional pyrene-polymerization bulk assays, as well as more recently developed single-filament and single-molecule imaging approaches. Recent development of novel biophysical methods for sensing and applying forces will in future allow us to address the very important relationship between mechanical stimulus and kinetics of actin-based motility.