Gaining agility and quickness for game-time situations involves many components. True agility isn't just moving at different speeds in different directions; it's moving in all directions with great speed in response to a stimulus.
In Part 1 of this agility series, we addressed simple change-of-direction drills—closed [or set pattern] drills that use anticipation and pattern recognition; and in Part 2, we provided more advanced change-of-direction drills to help you further develop your agility.
Now, in Part 3, we offer advanced agility drills for off-balance and single-leg support situations. Be sure to master the first two levels before attempting this elite level.
Level 3 – Advanced Agility
These drills use a set pattern with cones or markers, plus one or two change-of-direction options.
Two-Cone Weave Drill
Set up two cones. Distance will vary depending on sport and position.
• Weave back and forth between the two cones, focusing on balance and body control
• Perform lateral and linear variations of movement patterns
• Have a partner or coach give verbal and/or visual cues to change movement patterns
Cone Weave with Hurdle Steps
Set up two cones and place two to three small mini-hurdles between them.
• Weave back and forth between the two cones, stepping over hurdles
• Maintain mobility by stepping high [through the hip complex] over hurdles
• Do not shuffle feet on ground
Lateral Hurdle Chops With Sprint
• Set up one hurdle and step laterally over it
• Stay on the balls of the feet throughout the drill
• On verbal or visual cue, sprint five to 10 yards in direction specified
• 1x4-5 sets for 6-8 seconds per rep with a 30-40 second rest
Place mini hurdles in a clock formation. Start with 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions and add more times as you progress. Perform each drill with verbal and directional cues.
• On command, move around the face of the clock, facing in the same direction
• Step, jump or hop over each hurdle [pre-determine movements] and go through full pattern
• Change direction and repeat
• For variation, have partner or coach give cues instead of a set pattern
• 1x4-6 [one rep is repeating pattern both ways] with 45-60 seconds rest
Level 4 – Open Course
This level has unknown patterns performed in an open field. All movement is based on verbal or visual directional cues.
Reaction Speed Ladder Drill
The speed ladder is a great tool for teaching footwork and movement patterns. Add variations that force you to move in reaction to different commands.
• At the start of the drill, partner or coach yells out movement pattern
• Change up the movement pattern two or three times during the run
• Add visual or verbal speed and direction cues at various points
• Add an object to catch: partner bounces tennis ball; break and catch it before the second bounce
Stand facing a solid wall. Your distance from the wall will be determined by your ability to react. To start, stand farther back; as you progress, move closer.
• Have a partner or coach stand behind you with a handful of tennis balls or other bouncy balls
• Partner or coach throws ball against the wall
• React and catch ball, allowing one bounce
• Go for set number of throws
• Keep track of your catches and distance
Mirror Drill [Five-Cone Rabbit Drill]
Place five to six cones in a line, two and a half to three yards apart. Perform this drill with a partner. One person is the leader and the other is the mirror. Whatever the leader does, the mirror has to do.
• During all drills, maintain balance and body posture while moving as fast as possible and staying with the leader
• If leader moves right, move right as fast as possible; if he moves left, move left as fast as possible
To change things up, switch to the Shadow Drill, which affects forward and backward movement. The "Shadow" stays the same distance from the leader. When the leader backpedals, the shadow runs forward. When the leader runs forward, the shadow backpedals.
• To add variation, have partner or coach yell out "Mirror" or "Shadow" during the run
• Switch from leader to mirror or shadow
• Perform 10-30 seconds, depending on sport, for 4-6 sets
• Set up a series of cones in different locations within a 10- to 15-yard area
• Have a partner or coach give different signals and directions on movement
• Change direction as quickly as possible; never do the same movement pattern twice
• After one or two runs, change pattern of cones
• Do 2-3 sets of 5-6 direction changes per drill
Check out the videos for each of these drills in the player above.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock