Let’s start off with the definition of agility. Agility refers to the skill of a person to move and change direction or position quickly, while still being under control of his or her motion. It requires quick reflexes, coordination, balance, and speed.
What does it take to have agility? Does speed and agility training help? Everyone who has the discipline and willingness to train can be agile. To be agile, the coordination between body and mind should be quick and precise. Essentially, it’s about how your mind responds to what’s going on around you. From there, it takes this information and quickly translates it into swift and precise actions.
Agility is vital and is considered one of the key components of fitness and strength. It’s one of the most important qualities when you are practicing sports or any other physical activities. Speed and agility drills are common in football, basketball, soccer, hockey, rugby, volleyball, martial arts, and many more.
Even if you don’t practice sports, agility is an important skill in our everyday lives. What’s great about it is that with lots of practice and an effective speed and agility training program, anyone can be agile!
Before you start with agility training drills, there are a few key points to remember:
- Be sure that you are well hydrated
- Don’t skip meals before undergoing a workout — agility or otherwise
- Ask your doctor before beginning a new exercise program
- Always do warm-ups before your main workout
- Practice cooling down exercises after every workout
- Be sure to get enough sleep so your body can recover
If you’re wondering how to improve agility, one of the best ways is to focus on agility drills. These are activities that aim to improve agility and coordination through a combination of speed training drills, coordination exercises, and balance exercises.
Speed training drills are one of the first agility exercises you’ll learn. They aim for efficient position shifts while still maintaining speed. You can start off with the basics:
- Circling the cone. The aim of this cone drill is to enhance body control, as well as the critical transition that occurs between short-area footwork and sprinting.
- Fast feet. Quickness drills like the fast feet drills aim to teach your feet to move quickly in small areas.
- Speed ladder (change of direction). This speed drill helps you develop faster feet and the overall ability to turn and run on a dime.
Coordination skills are essential for both sports and everyday tasks. Some of the basic coordination skills that we need to enhance include eye-hand coordination, controlled movements of the body, and even bilateral coordination.
- Jump rope. This may look like a familiar exercise for kids, but skipping will enhance the coordination of your muscles and mind — and provide a great cardio workout, too!
- Jumping jacks. Jumping jacks have the same aim as jumping rope: building coordination between the muscles, the mind, and your timing.
Balance exercises are important because they teach both the mind and body to be disciplined while maintaining muscle control. Having good balance skills requires precise control of many muscles to be able to carry out activities without falling over.
- Hands and knees. Aim to coordinate your leg and arm muscles.
- One leg. Balancing on one leg is an important part of any agility training routine. Start off with this easier drill before moving to the next one.
- Single-leg complex. Once you're comfortable with the single-leg balance, try reaching out or balancing an object while maintaining your balance on one leg.
- Twist jumps. These aim to improve coordination as you try to land on your feet without falling.
Many schools offer speed and agility training for youth athletes — not just to prepare them for leagues or events, but to give them a chance to try youth sports. But knowing how to increase agility isn’t just about strength training or agility drills. It also requires discipline of the students with respect to how they eat, sleep, and take care of their bodies.
Speed and agility training is a tough journey to undergo. It requires patience and body strength, as well as a lot of discipline to be able to endure the drills and continually improve.
Now that we’re familiar with the types of agility training drills, let’s get to know two of the most commonly-used speed and agility equipment to support your speed and agility workouts.
- Agility hurdles. Agility hurdles help improve foot speed, coordination, and balance. Most hurdles are 6–12 inches above the ground. They work by forcing you to raise your feet and concentrate more on your footwork.
- Agility ladder. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the use of agility ladder drills in many speed and agility exercises to boost swiftness, foot speed, and mind-body coordination.
Before engaging with the different types of agility training exercises, visit your doctor to ensure you’re fit and able to undergo these types of activities. Knowing your body — including its limitations — is essential to living a healthy life. If you have past bone fractures, cardiovascular disease, muscle or bone weakness, or any other injury or illness that could hinder your ability to engage in agility training, it’s particularly important to get clearance from your doctor. Once cleared, you can start your agility training without worry. In no time, you’ll see the effects of being agile even with your everyday chores!