Cardiovascular training, check. Resistance exercises, check. Core workout, check. Stretches, check. The average gym-goer’s workout programme probably consists of a varied mix of all these things, which is all good and well, but isn’t there something missing from that list?
Indeed there is and it’s called speed and agility training. This type of training is often overlooked, but it definitely contributes to an important part of your current state of fitness. Naturally, you would find this type of training primarily used in sports that focus on quick, fast-paced movement that requires a high degree of balance and coordination; football, basketball, rugby and tennis are to name just a few, but why should only those engaging in such sports enjoy all the gains from this method of training? Choosing to improve both speed and agility can offer fantastic benefits, such as:
- Being able to move your body with greater finesse.
- Reaction times will become sharper and more explosive.
- Movements will become highly coordinated.
- You will become quicker and generate more speed.
Sounds good, right? So let’s look at how you can integrate this mode of training into your workout regime.
Speed and Agility Equipment
Speed and agility training does not require much equipment, however, a few particulars from the gym will allow you to create more diverse and challenging exercises. Here are two of the best choices which are the easiest to design an exercise with:
The cone is simple and effective to use; you can create countless drills with just these alone! The cones are used as markers that you will need to travel to (fast as you can) and can be placed in a straight line, or, in creative patterns to require multi-directional speed and agility.
The ladder is great for footwork drills and developing light/quick feet (or hands!). Move in-between the rungs quickly in a various styles, such as one foot or two foot runs that can be performed forward-facing or side-facing.
Speed and Agility Drills
Now we have our two pieces of equipment; it’s time to start creating some fun and engaging drills to train with. As always; start simple, refine the basics through easy and non-complex drills first. When your skill has improved, then it is time to get more challenging!
1. Straight Line Shuttle Run
It doesn’t get more basic than this; get two cones and place them opposite each other in a straight line. All you need to do is run as fast as possible between each one. You could time yourself do as many lengths as possible within a set period, or, you can just have a pre-determined number of lengths in a set to achieve.
2. Straight Line Cone Weaving
This is a little more demanding as now you must weave in and out of a series of cones placed in a straight line; which tests both speed and agility. You want to avoid kicking or scuffing the cones, so coordination is also a factor.
- Push off from the balls of your feet to generate quick acceleration.
- Use your arms to help generate momentum (keep them close to the body).
- Use short and sharp steps when changing direction rapidly.
1. One/Two Foot Ladder Run
Simple but effective; just run quickly through the rungs (square spaces) of the ladder from one end to the other. Start off by placing a single foot down in each square and then progress to placing two feet in each square, which is more challenging.
2. Step In, Step Out (Sideways)
This time, the aim is to face the ladder side-on and push forwards to get both feet into a square, then immediately push backwards to get both feet back out. Keep moving through the squares repeating this motion as quick as possible. Again, coordinate the movement and avoid touching/scuffing any part of the ladder.
- Get the technique right before putting on too much speed.
- Like the cone drills; use your arms to help generate momentum.
- Keep your hips square-on and avoid twisting out with the body.
- Stop your body from getting ahead of your feet!
These four exercises are just the tip of the iceberg; there is so much more that can be done with a little creativity. You could mix the cones and ladder together to design a drill that is even more demanding, or, buddy up with a friend and test each other to see who can complete the drill fastest. Speed and agility training is fun as well as effective and could be the last tick on your checklist for total fitness!
Words By: James Sidhu
Photos By: Keith Perena