Agility Drills for Sports
Agility drills are designed to work on balance, speed, reflexes, endurance and coordination with the goal of being able to quickly change direction or position.
We’ve compiled some of the best agility drills by sport to help athletes train smarter and harder.
Pro Agility Run
Compare yourself to the pros with this drill. Top athletes in the NFL can complete this drill in less than 4 seconds, with most other NFL players averaging around 4.5 seconds.
Set up 3 cones at 5-yard intervals for a total of 10 yards. Stand in front of the middle cone in the starting position (feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent). Start the clock and sprint to the right, touching the line marked by the cone with your hand. Sprint 10 yards back to the other far-end cone and touch the line there. Then sprint back to the middle cone.
For more professional football drills, like the Five Star and the Four Cone drills, check out LiveStrong.
Lateral High Knees
This drill works the hip flexors, quadriceps and calves to help improve stride and agility.
Set up rows of cones or markers as follows:
Space 3 cones out to represent a bag and then space approximately 2 feet in between each row of 3 cones. After creating 6 rows of cones, place a single cone 8 to 10 yards from the last row of cones. This single cone should be placed in the middle of the 6 bags.
To run the drill, the athlete must make every step with the knees coming up as high as possible. Each foot goes in between each set of cones. Make sure to keep the steps quick by exploding off the ground into a high knee.
Here is a sample video of this move from KB&S Training.
The Double Foot Shuffle
This is a more advanced drill that uses an agility ladder. If you do not have access to an agility ladder, you can measure and tape out the markings on the floor.
Start on the left side of the ladder. Step into the first square one foot at a time, starting with the right foot. Step outside of the first box, again starting with the right foot and then the left. Now do the same thing starting with the left foot in the second box, then the right. Step outside to the left of the ladder leading with the left foot, and then the right. Work your way down the ladder to get the pattern down, then repeat and pick up the pace.
For more agility ladder drills for basketball players, read this article from the Ballers Institute.
Lane Agility Drill
This drill is part of the test for the NBA draft.
For this drill, set up 6 cones: 3 cones at the free throw line and 3 cones at the baseline. Start at the cone to the far left of the free throw lines and face the hoop. Run forward toward the baseline, shuffle around the hoop (and all 3 cones) and backpedal up the lane to the foul line. Side shuffle past the 3 cones on the foul line to return to the starting cone. Then reverse the motions to side shuffle to the right, run forward, side shuffle left along the baseline, and then back pedal to the starting cone. Make sure to face toward the baseline the entire drill.
In this drill, as run in the NBA draft, any knocked cones or cut corners results in a penalty. For a better idea of how different positions should typically score on this drill, check out Top End Sports.
This drill is excellent for fielding agility and works on all directional changes.
Set up 8 cones at a distance of 3 to 5 yards from a central point. This will create a circle. Start in the middle of the wheel in a fielding stance. Sprint in a low fielding position, aiming to take one step for each yard of distance (3 to 5 steps). Walk back to the starting position and repeat for each cone. Make sure the starting position is always facing the same direction. That way you get practice driving out in all directions. One complete circle is one set. Aim to do 3 sets.
There are more wheel drill variants and repeat crossover drills at Texas Rangers.
Have the player stand 5 yards away from another player or coach. The player holds the baseball, sprints to the other person, and hands the baseball over. The player then backpedals quickly. The person holding the ball then throws it to either the left or right side. The player shuffles to the side to catch or pick up the ball and then sprints it back to hand it over again. Repeat as many times as you like.
This drill and others can be found on The Complete Pitcher.
The super shuttle requires 4 cones or markers set up in a cross pattern. The front and back cones are 20 yards apart and the right and left cones are 20 yards apart along the middle of the vertical line to form a plus sign. We’ll call the back cone A, the left cone B, the front cone C and the right cone D.
Start at cone A and backpedal (run backwards) toward the middle. Then break right toward cone B using side steps. Side step around cone B and side step back to the middle. Then sprint directly forward to cone C. Backpedal around cone C and back to the middle. Next, side step to cone D and back to the middle. Finally run forwards to cone A.
For more cone drills for soccer players, check out Soccer Maniak.
Teammate Chase Drill
Make sure to perform this drill in a limited area to make sure the focus is on agility through quick direction and pace changes. A good start is a 20 by 20 yard box.
The players will work in pairs. One player will run a random pattern with lots of direction changes, including running laterally, diagonally and backwards. The other player will chase, trying to keep 6 feet of distance. You can also vary the pace to work on quick speed changes.
This drill and other sprint and take-off drills can be found at Athletes Acceleration.
This drill works on foot speed in way that’s similar to dancing arcade games. Tape out five marks or “dots” in the same pattern as a five on a die.
Shattuck St. Mary’s Hockey has designed 12 different moves that can be combined or called out. For example, the 4-Corner Square move calls for the player to jump both feet into each corner. The Foot Fire Top starts with both feet on the middle dot. From there, the athlete jumps the left foot to the front left corner and the right foot to the front right corner.
Doing these moves in rapid succession really gives the reflexes and agility skills a workout.
For more moves, head over to SSM’s hockey page.
Zig Zag Drill
This drill can be performed on ice or on land to work on general agility training.
Set cones in a zig zag shape. The closer your cones are from front to back, the more you’re working on sharp, lateral movement. You can even vary the distance between the front and back cones as you work down the rink or field.
You can also work on running this drill backwards.
For more hockey agility drills using cones, check out Great Skate.
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