Training Agility The Unconventional, Yet Correct Way: Pt. 1

When you picture increasing your agility and speed, what comes to mind? Speed ladders. Hurdles. Cones. Salsa-dance looking moves and karaokes. Maybe some hops skips and jumps thrown in for good measure. Sound about right? And yet, in reality, it couldn’t be more wrong

Most coaches miss an essential component when it comes to improving agility. And whilst the techniques we see above are often important and beneficial, they lack in this essential component

Our intention with agility training should be to improve ourselves in game scenarios, and yet, in a game you’d rarely perform these sorts of movements in a controlled game environment. They lack all of the other stimuli that come your way

You’re never focusing 100% on this task at hand of chopping your feet and moving them as quick as possible… you’re tuned into the crowd… you’re taking in the stimuli of where other players are, especially the defenders who want nothing more than to see you fail

And so this needs to be factored into our training. And that’s why, whenever we train agility at The Academy we use on-field and in-gym specific training. In today’s article we’ll touch on our on-field techniques, and next week we will look at how we can develop agility whilst in the gym

Agility Drills With a Visual Stimulus You MUST React To

This visual stimulus could be a ball, a defender, or your own teammate. Games are never controlled environments, there are always going to be unpredictable things that happen - and often you will need to react incredibly quickly multiple times in varying directions to different stimuli

Movement patterns during games are not pre-determined like in traditional agility drills - and creating an unpredictable visual stimulus creates the game environment

We use these visual reaction drills with our netballers, soccer players, footballers, tennis players, etc… - any sport where there are quick reactions and agility required. The goal is to mimic the game situation as much as possible

And here is a great clip of this type of drill from the world-class Joe Defranco


Agility Drills Where There is a Cognitive Aspect

Have to perform at your mental peak whilst under fatigue is a huge factor late in games. And we love to throw this style of ‘mental work’ into the majority of our conditioning drills as it mimics that game situation so well

And again, there are many times late in games where athletes will be both physically and mentally fatigued and still required to react quickly to both a mental and physical stimulus. With this being the case, you train it

How? Some of our favourites to use include:
- ‘simple’ maths problems
- countries beginning with certain letters
- animals beginning with certain letters
- cities beginning with certain letters

Each force the athlete to think whilst under stress and performing a quick movement. A recipe for success on the field where they’ll often be thinking about the play being performed and such. And they can be thrown in to the above agility drills to enforce both a visual and mental stimulus to be reacted to

And there you have it, two new ways to train your agility to help mimic game-day and make you better on the field or court. Stay tuned, as next week we will be looking at a few gym-based movements and exercises that transition over incredibly well to real-time agility

Nick Maier