Five Drills to Increase Quickness

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Jahvid Best

Quickness, an essential weapon in any athlete's arsenal, is the ability to respond immediately to an external stimulus. Whether it's reacting to a player you're guarding, running after a drop shot or making a cut to break loose, quickness is one of your most critical assets for success. Being a half step behind the competition can be the difference between winning and losing.

Below are five drills that will develop your reactive speed. Practice them four to five days a week at the start of your training and at 100-percent intensity, and there's no doubt you'll gain a step on the competition.

Ball Drop
This drill is excellent for developing first-step quickness and straight-ahead speed.

  • Assume athletic stance facing partner with feet parallel
  • Have partner stand approximately seven yards away with tennis ball overhead
  • When ball is released, sprint to catch it after one bounce
  • Back up one yard after each catch; repeat for reps
  • Perform prescribed reps in parallel stance, staggered stance (one foot in front of the other) and side stance (10 on each side)

Sets/Reps: 1x8-10 of each stance

Overhead Throw and Chase
This is a great drill to enhance focus, develop reactive capabilities and promote straight-ahead speed.

  • Have partner stand behind you and throw tennis ball over your head
  • Sprint to catch ball after one bounce; return to start
  • Have partner throw ball farther after each successful catch
  • Increase difficulty by having partner throw slightly to right or left

Sets/Reps: 1x8-10

Lateral Throw and Catch
This drill is perfect for increasing lateral speed and quickness.

  • Stand in parallel stance facing partner
  • Have partner throw ball to your right
  • Catch ball in midair
  • Throw ball back and return to start position; repeat
  • Repeat for reps on left side

Sets/Reps: 3-4x10-16 each side

Randomized Lateral Throw and Catch
This is an advanced version of the Lateral Throw and Catch.

  • Stand in parallel stance facing partner
  • Have partner throw ball to left or right in varying pattern
  • Catch ball in midair
  • Throw ball back and return to start position

Sets/Reps: 3-4x16-20

Reaction Ball Game
This is the ultimate drill for developing speed, quickness and focus.

  • Face partner in athletic stance
  • Have partner throw reaction ball in front of you
  • Catch ball after one bounce; repeat
  • Keep score of catches and misses, receiving one point for each catch
  • Play to 10 points, best of three games


Dean Hollingworth, CSCS, has extensive experience working with athletes of all ages, helping them develop speed, agility and strength. He has consulted with various amateur and professional organizations as a fitness specialist for tennis, hockey, gymnastics and football; and his involvement has directly contributed to athletes' performance both on and off the field.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock