Being the best athlete is about so much more than just strength training - you also need excellent hand-eye coordination and quickness on your feet. Here are our five most effective agility training exercises that will help you perform better.
The Biggest Benefits of Agility Training
Even for those who aren't professional athletes, there are still plenty of benefits to reap through agility training. Here are the top reasons why every active person should train their agility.
Increases Cognitive Function
- Agility training strengthens your physical performance, as well as your brain function.
- Focusing on agility training requires intense attention, learning skills, and balance - your brain needs to communicate with your body to adjust at a moment's notice.
- In this way, people who do regular agility training benefit from better memory, concentration, and athletic footwork, as your mind-body connection becomes stronger.
- Most injuries happen when our bodies fall out of good alignment while performing a move.
- Agility training improves our balance and control to keep our bodies in good form during even the more complex and intense exercises or movements.
Improved Balance and Coordination
- Agility training helps us build the most impressive balance skills - maintaining balance while moving in agility training is much more complicated than practicing static postures for balance.
- Practice makes perfect when it comes to coordination - training agility improves our mind-body connection and solidifies the proper movements in our brains. They become much easier to perform under pressure - our bodies almost begin to know what to do instinctively.
- Take this example of how agility training can help you perform more effortlessly.
- Have you ever driven somewhere and had almost zero recollection of how you got there? A brand-new driver would be shocked at the idea, as new drivers use all of their mental focus on the many things around them.
- Over time, our brains become so used to certain activities, it puts our bodies on a natural autopilot, of sorts.
Shorter Recovery Times
- A heavy lifting day can make it challenging to get up the stairs or sit down in a chair without sighing like a 90-year-old man with a bad back.
- Agility training improves and strengthens the musculoskeletal system, helping the rate of your body's post-workout recovery.
The 5 Best Agility Exercises
#1: Cone Shuffle
The cone shuffle drill will get you sprinting, making quick stops, and changing direction on a dime, so it's great for soccer, tennis, volleyball, or other sports training that involves rapid changes to pace or direction.
- Set cones up in a grid as far or as close together as you'd like, and mimic the movements of the sport you're training for while stopping, changing direction, and minding the cones as a cue to change direction and speed.
- Focus on making accelerations and stops as quickly and accurately as possible.
#2: Speed Ladder
The speed ladder is the ultimate tool for training speedy footwork and developing top-notch acceleration skills.
- Lay a thin ladder down on the ground or draw one with chalk on the pavement, and practice stepping from top to bottom as quickly as possible.
- Try using as many different techniques and movements as you can - move forward, stepping both feet into the rungs, then both feet to the outside, then move up to the next ring.
- Try foot crossovers for an even more significant challenge, and try moving both forward, backward, and sideways for the biggest results.
- This drill is especially fun to run when you're racing a friend.
#3: Banded Agility Ball Drill
We love agility training that incorporates resistance bands for extra strength, core, and balance challenges.
This banded agility ball drill will improve your throwing skills and hand-eye coordination.
- Wrap a mobility band around your wrists and anchor it to a pole behind you. Though a band isn't necessary, it will increase your throwing range of motion.
- Stand close to a wall and practice throwing an agility ball against the wall and let it bounce back to yourself or a partner.
- Practice catching the ball with both hands, then make the exercise more challenging - level up to one-handed catching in your dominant hand, then one-handed catching in your non-dominant hand.
#4: Banded Lateral Jumps
This is an excellent drill for jump training, speed, and acceleration.
- Secure one end of a looped resistance band around a stable beam, and wrap the other around your waist, facing sideways to the pole.
- Practice jumping away from the pole onto your outside foot with as much power and height as you can.
- Jump out as far as possible to put maximum resistance onto the band and strengthen your body effectively.
- As you tire, turn to the other side and practice jumping onto your other foot.
#5: High Knee Run Drill
This high knee drill trains running and overall leg strength, speed, and endurance.
- Like in the drill above, secure your looped band to a beam and place the other end around your waist.
- Face away from the beam and start running forward against the band's resistance, lifting your knees to waist height, or higher, with every step.
- Drive your knees up and lean slightly forward into the resistance to make the move as challenging as possible.
Final Notes: Using Agility Training Wisely
Incorporating these agility drills into your workouts once or twice a week can help you to see some significant changes in your strength, body composition, and overall performance, no matter the sport you choose.