Agility Drills: How to Improve Speed and Agility
Athletes who are learning how to improve speed and agility can work on a variety of drills that target stability in both lateral and side-to-side directions. The best agility workouts are those that build core strength and balance while also developing explosive power in the hip flexors, glutes, and hamstrings, which are the muscles that hold primary control over speed.
Agility drills work best when they require athletes to deliver high amounts of energy for a very short duration. This kind of energy can be maximized during explosive activity that keeps the center of gravity close to the ground and the body in rapid motion for a distance of less than 20 yards at a time. In the video below, the Kbands trainers demonstrate how to improve speed and agility with a set of agility drills that require balance and controlled footwork. Since these drills are intense, athletes should tackle them about once or twice a week for maximum impact, and they should be incorporated into a complete agility training program. These agility workouts also rely on the added resistance of the Kbands, which help to build strength in the muscle groups that contribute to balance, speed, and quick changes.
How to Improve Speed and Agility: Equipment
The agility drills in this demonstration require ten orange cones and a set of Kbands resistance bands, all of which can be found on Kbands Training.com. The cones should be placed on the ground in rows of two, positioned about three yards apart. Once the cones are in place, the Kbands should be secured around the athlete’s upper legs by attaching the straps first; while putting on the bands, the user should make sure the label is facing forward and the metal rings are on the outside. Then the resistance bands can be clipped to the metal rings with the longer band in front and the shorter band attached in the back. As always, athletes should wear appropriate shoes and warm up beforehand in order to make the most of these agility drills.
How to Improve Speed and Agility: Lateral Motion Agility Workouts
Athletes should begin this set of agility drills by standing beside the first line of cones, either on the left or the right side, with the feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and the center of gravity lowered for maximum control. At the starting signal, athletes should break explosively out of this stance and move sideways between the first and second row of cones. After hugging the corner and keeping the body line parallel with the row, the athlete should move laterally in the opposite direction between the second and third row. This weaving pattern should continue all the way to the last row of cones, at which point the athlete should break into an explosive ten yard dash straight forward.
The pattern of this movement can be easily followed by watching the video, but the pattern of motion only constitutes half the value of this exercise. Most of the strength and agility gains from this workout will come from the combination of speed and proper technique. Athletes should remember to keep the chest and shoulders square with the line of cones at all times in order to keep the movements of the legs and hip flexors lateral. The feet should be light throughout this agility drill and as the athlete rounds each turn, his feet should land as close to the cones as possible. Hugging the cones will help the athlete keep his attention on footwork, balance, and control.
The second most important element of technique is height. If the body position is too high, agility and speed are lost, especially as the body rounds each corner. If the center is too high at the turns, the cuts will be difficult to make because the momentum of the upper body will carry the athlete off balance. A stance that stays wide and low will help avoid stumbling at each cut.
As soon as the athlete finishes the series of cuts and enters the straightway, the transition from lateral to forward motion should happen at lightning speed. Again, a low body line can make a considerable difference, and so can the position of the head and the arms. The head should kept low and oriented toward the destination. The chin should be down and the line of the neck and head should be strong and forward-leaning. At all the times throughout this set of agility drills, the arms should be fully engaged. The muscles that directly control speed are located in the core, hips, and upper legs, but the arms and head also exercise enormous indirect influence over the body’s speed and direction. The athlete should keep the arms involved in body position during each cut and should start the straightaway sprint with explosive arm motion at the very first stride.
How to Improve Speed and Agility: Resisted and Unresisted Sets
The first few sets of this drill should be completed with the Kband straps in place and the resistance bands clipped to the straps. But after about three rounds, the resistance bands can be unhooked from the straps so the legs can move freely. Moving from a resisted to an unresisted set can make the body seem lighter and faster, but athletes should not let the lighter feeling cause the center of gravity to rise. Even during the unresisted sets, the core should stay low, the arms should be engaged, and the head should stay forward.
For more information about agility and speed development using the Kbands, the KB Powerbands and the KB Duo, athletes and coaches should visit Kbands Training.com and review a wide range of training videos like this one. The demonstrations and articles on the site can help athletes make the most of the training principles behind resistance and suspension exercises, and can support the development of key skills and strengths that can lead to success on the sports field.