Speed and agility training is often over-complicated and portrayed in an unrealistically glamorous way. I get that some of the fancy drills you see online may look really cool, but really, the simplest drills have been the most successful in getting my athletes faster and more agile.
1. Ground Contact
The two main ways to get faster are by
- Putting force into the ground
- Putting force into the ground quicker
The more times you can pick up your feet and drive force into the ground, the faster you will go. A good portion of our athlete's speed training revolves around this.
Here are two drills we use to help you put force into the ground quickly.
Sets and Reps: 3-4x10-15yds
Cues: Move arm at the shoulder not the elbow. Keep toes up, and relax--don't overthink.
Sets/Reps: 3-4 x 10-15 yards
Cues: Pop the feet off the ground and keep your toes up.
To be agile, you must be able to change your direction quickly. The quickest way to get better at changing direction is by learning to decelerate quickly and efficiently.
Here are two ways to get better a deceleration:
Adding deceleration to the end of all of your sprints and drills is a great way to become good at deceleration.
Cues: Take as few steps to decelerate. Finish with weight on your heels.
Pick Drills That Emphasis Deceleration
Choosing drills that have you sprinting, then having to stop quickly and accelerate will make you better at deceleration.
Cues: Alternate plant leg in sprint to backpedal transition.
Cues: Fully decelerate before hopping over hurdle;. Perform drill on both sides.
3. Rest Periods
All too often speed and agility workouts become condition workouts. When you are training for speed and agility, you don't need hour-long workouts. For the most part, 15 to 20 minutes is all you will need to get faster and quicker.
Two mistakes athletes will make are not taking sufficient rest between sprints and drills, and not knowing the difference between physical fatigue and neural fatigue.
A good rule for rest is to take three to four times longer rest than what it took you to complete the drill. If it took you 10 seconds to complete a drill, then you would want to take 30 to 40 seconds of rest before doing the drill again.
At the end of a speed and agility session, you should not be completely out of breath. The goal of training is to improve your change of direction, quickness and top end speed. You can only improve on this if you are physically and neurally rested.
The nervous system fatigues faster than your muscles. This is why your sprints will become slow relatively quickly when training but you can still run long distance.
A good rule to use to tell if your nervous system has become fatigued is by adding .2 seconds to short (10- to 15-yard) sprints, .15 sec for 20- to 30-yard sprints, and for agility drills add .3 seconds to your first time. Once you hit that time, you will stop your sprints.
For example if a 25-yard sprint takes three seconds to complete, add .15 seconds. Keep sprinting until your time is greater than 3.15 seconds.
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