Agility is the ability to explosively decelerate, change direction and accelerate again quickly while maintaining body control and minimizing loss of speed.
Agility is an essential element of most sports. Elite athletes stand out from the rest for their high levels of agility and explosiveness.
Agility depends on factors such as speed, eccentric strength (strength that enables the athlete to decelerate movements), balance and coordination.
Agility training will enhance overall athleticism and sports performance. Sport skills are performed during abrupt changes in speed and direction. The more agile the athlete is, the better the foundation for sport skill function.
Teaching proper mechanics to decelerate and change direction will also reduce the risk of injury, because a lot of injuries occur during braking and changing of direction.
Start your agility training program with basic drills, performed at sub-maximal speed to prevent incorrect movement patterns to be learned and grooved in. Easier drills involve smoother changes of direction like weaving around cones or running a figure eight pattern.
Incorporate drills, such as the lateral hoop drills and the one-two drills, that teach the athlete proper mechanics, body control and balance.
Progressively advance to more complex drills that require sharper changes of direction and cutting at high running speeds and transitions between various movement skills.
Focusing to early on sport-specificity before proper movement mechanics are established will retard the overall athletic development.
Allow sufficient recuperation time when teaching and mastering a drill. When drills are performed correctly, fatigue can be added to mimic the game situation.
But remember: To become faster, you need to train fast. Keep the number of repetitions low and allow adequate recovery time to enhance explosiveness and movement quality.
Lateral agility drills teach athletes fundamental footwork for quick lateral movement and proper mechanics to change direction. These drills will also help develop power, quickness and speed.
Resisted training is one of the most effective methods to develop speed. Resisted drills develop lower body power through neural and physiological adaptations. This will carry over to your sport performance. Over time you will become faster and more explosive.
The resisted/unresisted or Post-Activation Potentiation training is another effective way to enhance speed. In the resisted/unresisted training, a resisted drill is immediately followed by a few repetitions without resistance. The increased amount of recruited muscle fibres as a result of the added resistance, will carry over to the unresisted situation. This enables the athlete to move faster, more explosive.