Do a hashtag search on Instagram for “agility.”
You will see one of the following things in order by occurrence:
- Ladder drills
- Sport practice/ conditioning
- Actual agility work
I guess this is why our teachers warned us not to trust the internet for info. Anyone can get their message heard and it is becoming harder to sift through good and bad content.
Agility is an important aspect for athletes to train because it is usually one of their biggest weaknesses. Most athletes will see the greatest improvements in their change of direction, as opposed to their power output or linear speed, in a short amount of time.
We have seen this time and time again in our facility. Parents also notice it when it is time for them to perform on the field.
Training for agility is actually fairly simple but it can be difficult to determine what to do or not to do.
Train for Quickness not just Quick Feet
Quickness is the ability to change direction with speed. Most athletes want to be quick so that they can play better on the field.
Quick feet is a different story. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting good footwork. It would actually help most athletes.
Ladder drills are the best example of footwork drills and they take a fair amount of criticism. A lot of coaches will argue that the ladder does not train agility. Well, they’re probably right. Knowing the difference and why you use a certain drill is key. Ladders are good for footwork but not great for agility.
Good agility drills will involve an acceleration, a deceleration, and another acceleration at minimum. You need to start, stop, and start again to train for agility. How many starts/stops you do will depend on the drill.
Train in Multiple Movement Patterns
To train for agility and change of direction you can combine multiple movements. Sprints, backpedals, shuffles, and crossovers can all be utilized to work on changing direction.
Exposing athletes to a lot of different movements and planes can help their development. Sports are unpredictable so it is helpful to be able to move and change in different directions.
The drill below shows how to combine multiple movements into a drill.
Use Reaction Work When Possible
One of the best ways to help an athlete improve their agility and overall athleticism is to improve their reactive ability.
A lot of athletes may be pretty and predetermined and rehearsed drills which makes them appear quick. When it comes time to play in live action, something seems off.
An athlete with a poor reactive ability will appear to be slow because their decision making is slow. They do not react to the play in time to be in the right place.
Reaction is easy to add to a drill. Point in a direction, yell out left/right, or use different color cones. Changing up drills from such a rehearsed pattern will help athletes move quicker.
They may not be performing the drill much quicker but the reaction will help in the game. They will make the right decision in less time by training for their reactive ability.
Agility is multi-faceted but does not have to be so misunderstood. Athletes should work on repeatedly starting, stopping, and starting again. From there you can add different movement patterns to the drill. The third step is to include a reactive component to bring the drill full circle.