Agility Training Guidelines

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Don't just train to train. Make sure the movements you perform matter. Listen up as Mike Berenger, founder of Rapid Sports Performance in Woodstock, Ga. and trainer to White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham, gives advice on making your quicks work worth the time.

Perform agility work before lower-body strength exercises. Starting with heavy leg strength work will tire leg muscles quickly. Being fatigued during change-of-direction agility drills creates poor movement patterns, which will lead to a wasted workout, and possibly injury.

Start your agility training with sport- and position-specific drills that mimic the movements you make on the field, court, diamond or ice. Do not begin with gadgets, such as weighted vests or bungee cords. It is crucial to learn the proper mechanics of agility drills.

Never overload on weight or resistance when first practicing agility. Again, poor habits, due to overcompensation, will develop and therefore negate the purpose of the training.

Once you master technique for each drill [good body posture, balance, moving the balls of your feet and keeping hips low], then you can progress to advanced movements or resistance training. Just make sure to never compensate natural movement. Think of agility progression as you would strength progression: a smart athlete would never load up weight for Power Cleans before perfecting his technique.

More is not better Just two or three agility workouts per week are needed. Remember, agility training is different from conditioning, which involves sprints to get the heart rate up to develop cardio endurance for a long season. Agility requires a fresh body that is minimally fatigued and smart rest intervals.

Never judge an agility session by the amount of sweat. When the quality of movements becomes poor, it's time to shut it down completely and move on to strength work.

Bonus Tip Agility is about the ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction efficiently. Deceleration training is important to make change of direction movements smooth and crisp. The quickest athletes are those who can transition smoothly from accelerating to decelerating and re-accelerating or changing direction.

Want more info and adivice for agility training? Watch video of Justin Upton's agility training for baseball.

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