When I have athletes come into my gym looking to get faster and more powerful, my first priority is to start them with these top 5 drills to increase agility.
Today I’ll be getting into programming and and how I typically develop agility in athletes. The initial focus is always on creating a foundation so the athlete can perform at a higher level.
The drills I’m sharing with you today are the perfect foundational movements to build on and progress an athlete.
But first, let’s go over the elements of agility.
Agility is defined as the ability to move nimbly with ease and speed. This ability is based on both physical and cognitive factors.
Cognitive factors are elements of proprioception, such as how the body responds its surroundings. This includes: body awareness and reaction time, as well as your ability to respond to external stimuli.
Another important element for any athlete is truly knowing your sport.
This includes knowing what other people are doing on the field at all times or even how another team functions so you can take them on.
These kinds of skills are developed both in play and in the film room.
Having this sort of cognitive ability allows an athlete to play with more agility and speed in their actual sport.
Now let’s talk about the physical elements.
On my side as a strength and conditioning coach, I’m working more on the physical aspects of agility.
You guys often hear me use the term “isolate and elevate” when working with my athletes.
This becomes critical when developing a young or a new athlete. When working with guys based on their sport and current ability I’ll introduce specific drills to increase agility and then later on elevate this same drill to bring them to then next level.
Ready to step your game up? Here’s the Top 5 Drills to Increase Agility
TOP 5 DRILLS TO INCREASE AGILITY
For most sports, change of direction is a major factor so we’re looking to target agility work across the ankle and the hip.
1. Lateral Pogo Jumps
One of my favorite drills to build strength within the ankles is pogo hops. This teaches the athlete to be reactive and “pop” off the ground while moving laterally to enhance inversion and eversion of the ankles.
- Begin standing. Always keeping the feet flexed, begin to hop moving laterally.
- As soon as you touch down to the ground, you’re popping right back up.
- Shoot for 2-3 sets of 20 yards (in both directions).
2. Single-Leg Lateral Pogo Hops
This drill isolates one leg at a time which is an important element in speed and agility development. As you run, and cut through the field, you’re always driving off one foot to the next.
Breaking it down like this to the most basic movements truly makes the most difference for any athlete.
- Begin standing on one foot.
- Stand next to a line on the ground.
- Staying reactive, you’ll begin hopping laterally over the line.
You can also do this single-leg pogo hop moving forwards and backwards.
3. Lateral Wall Run
Next, we can take this drill up to the hip for adduction and abduction.
This drill is one of my favorites for developing a strong core and elevating the knee drive during your linear sprinting.
- Begin standing a little more than arms length distance next to a wall with your arm out.
- Lean towards the wall until your hand comes in contact.
- You’ll now drive one knee up to hip height as if you’re sprinting.
- On a whistle command, you can alternate “running” with each leg so the hip comes to flexion.
4. Cross-Over Runs
- Begin standing keeping your shoulders square to the direction you’re facing.
- You’ll begin running laterally by crossing your lead leg in front.
- Keep the hips shoulders squared the entire time.
You can start with 3 sets of 10 yards, sprinting out hard in the cross over run and decelerating to finish.
5. Lateral Shuffle
- Begin in an athletic stance.
- Pushing off your rear leg, reach taking a big lateral step.
- Travel for 10yards and decelerate.
This drill is great for getting an athlete to reach with their step. It requires glute strength and flexibility, both of which are extremely important to strong performance not the field.
Want to try a few more drills? Check out the Full Guide to Agility Training for Athletes.
How to Program Your Agility Training
The goal within my agility training is to begin at the most basic level, and then add in cognitive elements to truly elevate your game.
Remember: Isolate and Elevate
If you truly want to become the most agile on the field, you’ve got to start with the basics and progress. Trust me.
By starting at the very first level, your goal is learn how to do every drill perfectly. Once you’re consistently doing them well, you can begin advancing each drill.
If you’re a young or a new athlete and jump in using advanced drills that you can’t perform properly, you’re only doing a detriment to your athletic performance.
A lot of guys jump in and start with all these change of direction drills, cuts and reactions.
The reality is that the bulk of your off-season training or accumulation phase, should be spent working on these 5 drills to increase agility.
Once you’re a master here, you’ll elevate the threshold of these basics to incorporate more movements in your training.
That’s why I created Game Speed.
It contains the progressions for everything agility – from agility specific drills to lifting to plyometrics and more.
Want to know more?