Reactive Agility: The Next Big Thing in Speed Training

STACK Expert Bill Rom defines reactive agility and illustrates several drills to develop your ability to react at high speed.


Most speed training gives athletes step-by-step drills to execute to become faster and more agile. But to prevail in the game, you need to make split-second decisions. Training that develops the ability to react to a stimulus quickly and efficiently, at high speed, is called reactive agility.

Nick Winkleman, director of education at EXOS and a reactive agility expert, says that his approach is to "look at the field as a critical venue for transfer to sport. We not only coach movements that are sport-specific, but also that develop physical competencies [for example, sprinting] that are good for general athleticism."

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Why Reactive Agility Training Is So Important

Making the transition from the gym to the field has long been a challenge for coaches and trainers. How exactly does a heavy Deadlift directly impact performance of a 40-Yard Dash? How does a better Pro Agility drill translate to on-the-field performance? Reactive training closes the gap.

In the video below, you will see two athletes compete in a reaction drill at top speed:

This type of movement training creates the unexpected, pushing athletes to process information and movements in ways similar to when they're on the field.

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External Cues

Understanding external cues is key to reactive agility. When designing a program for an athlete, it's important to look at the type of cue he or she responds better to. Is it a visual cue or an auditory cue?

Here are some examples of different cues and drills.

Once you understand the cues, you can integrate them into progressively tougher situations.

Before athletes can react quickly, certain movements need to become second nature. Learning to change direction, when to use an inside foot cut, and how to drop step are all important. Once an athlete has got the movement down, he or she can work on executing it at a progressively faster pace.

Here, we are working on a crossover step and acceleration all in one. These pieces of the puzzle are important, and getting better at this drill creates more useable movements.

The Star Drill is another good movement-pattern trainer.

And, finally, here is a drill that teaches pure reactive agility.

If you're interested in pursuing reactive agility further, here's a link to a page offering 30 percent off on purchase of a new course from Team EXOS, The .10 Second Difference: Learn.TeamEXOS.com/OFF30. It includes 50 drills to optimize linear speed and conquer the 40-Yard Dash, as well as strategies for developing starts, acceleration and absolute speed.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: AGILITY TRAINING | COACH | DRILL | TRAINER | FASTER