Speed and Agility Exercises
No athlete can compete at his or her best without an effective speed and agility training program. Speed and agility must work hand-in-hand, since you’re running fast is only good if you can also quickly change directions or employ nimble footwork to avoid obstacles. During this type of training, you also want to work on reducing the time it takes to stop, since your agility may rely heavily on stopping, turning and starting again.
The following drills are just a sampling of the many you can use to work on these key areas. If you’re looking to train with an agility ladder or other training equipment, check out our articles on equipment drills. You may also wish to check out our sport-specific speed and agility exercise articles.
Use a platform that is about 12 to 15 inches high, like a stable bench or plyometric box.
Stand on the platform with bent knees, your hips tucked back and your arms straight out in front. Step off and land one foot at a time. As soon as the second foot hits the floor, explode into a vertical jump. Get back on the platform and repeat 2 more times for a set. Aim for 4 to 5 sets.
hops help with stabilization and, of course, the lateral agility that is needed in most sports. Stand in an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent and hips tucked back. Squat down a little and leap up and over to your right side. Land on soft knees with your right foot hitting the ground first. Then leap back to the left landing on your left foot. This completes one rep. Aim for at least 6 reps across 3 sets.
To increase the intensity, try a one-legged lateral hop. Leap to your right by pushing off your right foot and landing on your right foot. You can continue this motion in a line for multiple hops before pausing and returning the opposite direction. This is a good one to use with small hurdles or markers.
Step Around Shuffle
Set up 10 cones or gym bags in a straight line with about 2 feet of distance in between.
Face in the same direction throughout this drill. Start with the line running on your right side. Shuffle around the objects by weaving forward and backward. When you get to the end, wind back to the left. Complete the set by running the course forward and by backpedaling.
Run in place with high knees. Each time you raise your leg, use your foot to gently tap a cone or other object about 12 inches high. Focus on form first before increasing your speed. You don’t have to bring your knees up as high as you can. The idea is to work on the fine motor skills of gently tapping while also working on the speed of constantly moving feet.
Random Cone Shuffle
Set up cones or other objects as markers. It may help to use objects of different colors. The pattern of the objects should be random, but try to keep the cones within a 10 foot area.
Run forward, backward, or laterally between the cones, again using a random pattern of movement.
To work on response time and agility, have a partner call out the colors of the objects or go over a numbering system beforehand. Run to the object your partner calls without changing the direction your body is facing. Also try to keep your head up and looking straight ahead. This variation also helps with spatial memory, since you will be “running blind” laterally, diagonally and backwards.
Red Light, Green Light
Your speed is only as good as your ability to stop in the face of obstacles or directional changes. This drill uses a partner to help work on your response time as well as your deceleration.
Start with a wide open space. Have your partner call out “Green light” to indicate it’s time to sprint forward. When he or she calls out “Red light,” stop immediately. Your partner may also try calling out directions. Instead of calling “Red light,” he or she may call out “Left!” Immediately stop and change directions to go 90 degrees to the left, either by turning your hips to start running straight in another direction or by shuffling to the left.
Avoid “rounding” the corners in order to sharpen your footwork. Focus instead on “stopping on a dime.”
For more speed & agility exercises, check out our articles on agility ladders, speed training equipment, and sport specific ladder and cone drills.
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