Agility, or the ability to rapidly accelerate, stop, and change direction quickly, is important for many athletes.
If you can move quicker than your opponent you’re going to have an advantage, especially in sports such as basketball and football.
During the off-season is the best time to work on your agility with a variety of agility drills such as the ones I’ll mention shortly, but first it’s important to understand two things.
First, agility training is just one part of a complete program. Your training program should include weight lifting, plyometrics, and speed training in addition to any agility drills you use.
Second, the amount of agility training you do is going to depend somewhat on how much sport-specific training you’re already doing. In general, 1-2 sessions of agility training per week is all you need.
3 Kinds of Agility Drills
There are three different types of agility drills you’re going to learn about today - Cone drills, resisted agility drills, and reactive agility drills.
Beginners are best suited for just using cone drills, working towards reactive agility drills and resisted agility drills once they have some training under their belts.
Because beginners need to work on the actual movement patterns first, learning how to change direction quickly with less risk for injury.
So, what specific type of agility drills can you include in your training?
Agility Training Exercises
There aren’t necessarily “right” or “wrong” agility exercises. Instead, the focus should be on a variety of movements in different planes - linear and lateral. Here are some examples:
5/10/5 (Pro Agility Shuttle)
This agility drill is one of the tests you’ll see at the NFL combine and it’s also a great agility training exercise to use in your training.
For this exercise you start in the middle of two cones that are 10 yards apart on each side of you. You sprint 5 yards to one cone, turn and sprint 10 yards to the far cone, turn and sprint back through the middle cone where you started.
For the box cone drill, you set up 4 cones in a square, with each cone being 10 yards apart. You sprint to the first cone, side shuffle to the next cone, backpedal to the third cone, and shuffle back to the start.
Of course, that’s just one of the many variations, and you can use any combination of movements you want and even change the distance of the cones in the box.
Zig Zag Drill
For the zig zag drill you’ll setup 6-8 cones 3-5 yards apart in a zig zag pattern and then sprint, backpedal, or shuffle from cone to cone as fast as you can.
This drill works on quick change of direction skills moving left to right to left repeatedly.
Plex Cone Drill
The plex cone drill is a fun one. For this agility drill you’ll setup 8-10 cones in a random multi-directional pattern and sprint from cone to cone.
Make sure to set the cones at different lengths from one another.
For example, some cones may be 3 yards apart, while others may be 11 yards apart. The point is to have to change directions at different speeds, working on acceleration and deceleration between each set of cones.
Reactive and Resisted Drills
Reactive agility drills require the use of a partner and you’ll work on sprinting, shuffling, and backpedaling with your partner telling you when to change directions.
You can start by sprinting and have your partner tell you “Backpedal” or “Shuffle” and you’ll switch to that movement.
They can also point a direction or yell “Switch” and you’ll change direction on their command.
With all of the cone agility drills and reactive drills you can also use resistance bands to up the level of difficulty. The best band to use for resisted agility drills? The bungee resistance band.
Agility training will make you a better athlete. Period.
Include 1-2 days of agility training in your off-season workouts starting with 15-20 total reps of various exercises.