How come athletes can practice and play 3-5 times per week and still lack quickness?
This is a common problem for many young kids in sports. Most of the time parents are looking to help their child get quicker.
Quickness is important for athletes. It will help athletes be more successful in their sport, however they define that.
The problem with quickness is that practices and games rarely improve upon it.
My vague definition of quickness is to move in a short period of time. This most often happens in a change of direction scenario. It is essential for athletes to stop and get going in the other direction rapidly.
Practice does not often promote this type of training for a few reasons:
- Athletes are not given long(ish) rest periods
- Drills are often too long
- The intensity is not high enough
- There is no time spent purely on improving agility
You cannot work on quickness if you are already fatigued. That would be more conditioning. You have to be recovered to move at a high intensity.
Cone and ladder drills also have their faults. They are often pre programmed and rehearsed. Their is no real free thought when running cone or ladder drills. This limits their benefits in athletes that have experience in training.
There are a few ways that we can improve upon agility drills to better benefit our athletes.
Shorten the Drills
Good agility drills should be short duration, high intensity, and have a long recovery period. This is the best way to promote pure quickness.
Side note: High intensity is high output and effort. Running suicides is lower intensity than running a single sprint because the speed is higher in the sprint.
All three of those factors influence each other. Too long of a duration will lower the intensity. A high intensity movement requires a long period in which to recover. Too short of a recovery will lower the intensity of the drill.
Low intensity agility drills do not promote quickness.
Try to keep most agility drills under 10 seconds. You can then add reps in to repeat the efforts.
Mix in Multiple Movements
Without proper attention, most agility drills are all run forward. They are always sprints.
Sport requires athletes to backpedal, shuffle, crossover, sprint, and any combination of them.
Athletes should be able to smoothly transition from these different movement patterns. If they are not familiar with these movements, then they are not going to be able to transition in and out of them quickly.
An athlete cannot be quick if they cannot react.
The entire point of sports is to see the play in front of them, make a decision, and then execute it.
If it takes too long to process the information then the athlete is going to appear slow. Maybe they can run through the cones well or their foot work looks great. The application of those skills is really important.
And most athletes struggle with reaction and thinking on the fly. Just using left and right verbal cues can throw an athlete off pretty significantly.
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