The pro agility drill is a staple in speed and agility training.
It is popular, easy to incorporate, and it is one of the tests at the NFL combine.
Without further delay lets get into the best parts and where it may fall flat.
Pro: Easy to perform and repeatable
To set up the pro agility drill we need 3 cones and a stopwatch. This ease of use makes it a favorite among coaches, teams, and scouts.
I really like this test because it is very easy for the athlete to perform and re test later.
Con: Lacks a reaction component
When training for agility or change of direction, high school athletes are lacking a reactive ability. When it comes to performing at a high level it is important to be able to make quick decisions. Training reactive ability helps athletes think critically.
The pro agility as shown in the video above is a closed drill. There is a pre determined start, middle, and end.
Adding a reactive component to this drill is easy. Start the athlete in a ready position without a hand down. Point, yell, or use the color of a cone to determine the starting direction for the athlete. The athlete runs the same drill but they must make a decision to start it.
Pro: Good for measuring change over time
I usually like to look 8 weeks apart between testing. This test shows the most dramatic and quickest improvements on average.
Athletes are typically pretty experienced at running in a straight line or jumping so it takes a little bit longer to break old habits and make changes. Agility improvements come much quicker and this test shows how much an athlete has improved.
Con: Athletes can memorize the test
This is somewhat related to the point about reaction. The drill is closed and specific. This opens the door for an athlete to perform really well in a testing environment but get crushed when they have to react, think, and make decisions in a split second.
You should be aware that a great performance in the pro agility does not necessarily indicate someone’s ability to play their sport.
The fix for this is to include some reaction to the drill. Also, force the athletes make decisions using other speed and agility work.
A couple of aspects included in the pro agility are a lateral deceleration, crossover step, and short acceleration. All of these are needed for athletes to be quick.
If an athlete can stop on a dime and get going in the opposite direction before their opponent then they will have an edge.
Making sure that those qualities are being effectively coached leads us to our next point.
Con: Too few coaches know how to really coach it
The average pro agility looks bad. When the NFL players run, it doesn’t look so bad. The difference is not that they are highly skilled individuals.
Combine athletes learn the techniques required to run an efficient drill. They can then let their superior athleticism give them a great score.
Some things to look for in the pro agility drill:
- Start with ~3 crossover steps
- The decel at the cones should have the knees bent, hips back, and chest neutral
- An athlete that is bent over at the cone is dead to rights on running a good time
- An explosive crossover step gets the athlete going the opposite way
- The athlete finishes the drill by sprinting way past the cone where the timer is
I use and really like the pro agility drill. I also know its limitations. It is a very important piece of the puzzle but it is only part of it.
Use the pro agility to track and measure progress. Do it right and remember that the test scores are just a number. Keep fine tuning all training qualities.