As any seasoned basketball player will tell you, a game is won as much in the training session as it is on the court. The stamina, speed of movement, quick reaction time and hand-eye coordination needed to dominate in this sport are the result of hours of training. That's why basketball agility drills form such a major part of any aspiring or current athlete regime.
Agility in basketball is one of the most crucial skills. Players need to be able to switch positions at speed while handling the ball, without making an illegal move and while under intense pressure from the opposing team. Balance, stability, speed, and reactions are all components of the type of mental and physical agility needed to succeed.
Naturally, agility drills are therefore an important aspect of any basketball training routine, whether for individual or team training sessions. Agility training methods will vary, with each coach or trainer having their own programs, but there are some agility exercises common to most amateur and professional basketball teams.
Resistance bands can be used in agility drills in a number of ways. Single bands can be used to provide resistance to specific muscle groups, building lateral quickness, which is particularly important in defensive play. Multiple bands knotted together can be used in paired training, with one player acting as the anchor, to develop and train explosive speed, as in some of the quickness drills described below.
For resisted speed training, rather than using a series of resistance bands knotted together, a popular choice in basketball agility drills is to use specially designed bungee cord workout equipment, which usually combines a high resistance bungee cord with a belt fitted with a 360-degree buckle, allowing for a greater range of unrestricted movement, including jumping and sprinting.
Choosing the right combination of basketball speed drills and basketball agility drills depends to an extent on the position you're training for, as well as your existing skill level in the different attributes. We've put together a list of some of the most widely used drills, which provide a good base for building an all-round bungee cord or resistance bands basketball workout.
This drill trains the hip adductor and abductor muscles, which are key to maintaining a stable defensive stance and being able to move laterally swiftly. Using a single resistance band, double it over and loop around your ankles. Starting with a classic defensive stance, move laterally by sliding your leading leg out and then following up with the other leg. Remember to keep your crouch low and your back straight, minimizing any upward or downward movement as you go. After 10 or 15 yards, reverse and move back to the starting position.
This drill can be performed with either multiple knotted resistance bands or a longer bungee cord. The aim is to develop the player's acceleration from a standing start as well as swift changes of direction. You'll need a partner to act as the anchor. Wearing the band or bungee cord, start in the defensive slide position, leading with the dominant foot.
Make three or four defensive slides, enough to stretch the band or cord to its full extent, then reverse to return to the starting position. Now turn ninety degrees, and this time sprint out to the extent of the band, then backpedal to the starting position. Turn again, this time repeating the slides, but with the non dominant foot leading. Finally, turn again and backpedal out, sprinting back. Repeat as needed.
This drill is designed to develop explosive speed from a standing start. Again, it's suitable for either an extended resistance band or bungee cord, with your partner anchoring the other end. The drill is simple. Start in an athletic stance, and on command from your partner sprint out to the full extent possible, and backpedal to return to your starting position.
You should maintain balance throughout, pumping your arms to provide momentum, and your path both out and back in should follow a straight line with no deviation or wobbling.
In this drill, you'll train your jump, but also your ability to repeat multiple jumps quickly and without losing height. This is perfect for those in-game situations where you jump to finish at the basket, miss and need to jump again to complete the basket before a defensive player can intercept. As in the last two, you'll be anchored to a partner via a bungee or resistance band of sufficient length.
Stand at the backboard, with your partner behind you holding their end of the band towards the floor and maintaining light tension. Jump and touch the backboard with both hands, or hold a basketball and touch it against the backboard. As soon as your feet hit the floor, repeat the jump. Repeat again for 8 to 10 reps.
This drill trains both explosive speed and lateral speed. As with the majority of the drills above, you'll need an anchor partner and a cord or resistance band long enough to give you a reasonable range of movement. You'll also need a ball for this drill. Starting under the basket, with the cord attached to your waist, make a defensive shuffle out to one of the corners, then sprint back, dribbling the ball only once.
Finish off two feet, catch your own rebound and then defensive shuffle to the other corner, repeating the whole process in reverse. You can develop the difficulty of this drill by asking your partner to increase the band or cord tension, or the distance at which they stand.
In this drill, you'll develop quickness off the mark, as well as finishing skill at the basket. It's another partner/resistance drill, so the setup is as described above. This time, however, your starting position will be at the top of the key. You should begin in the triple threat position, ready to sweep to either side. On command from your partner, you should sweep to one side and explode off the mark, aiming to get to the basket with a single dribble and finish off two feet.
Catch your rebound and backpedal to the starting position, then repeat the exercise sweeping to the opposite side. Again, to increase the difficulty level, get your partner to adjust the tension in the band or the position they stand, trying out different angles with each repetition of the drill.
These six basketball agility drills will provide an excellent foundation for any training program, covering many of the key skills needed for all positions. As you advance and start training for a specific position, you may want to incorporate more specialist drills for certain areas.