Agility is the ability to decelerate, accelerate, and change direction while maintaining good body control and without losing time in the transition. It has been said that outside of sport-specific skills, agility is the primary determining factor for success in sport. In the game of tennis, no player is going to run longer than 40 feet without having to either stop, change direction, or change speed. The player that can do this in the most efficient manner will be the player that has the overall athletic advantage in the match. It is important to train agility in the same manner that any other skill would be trained. Using the proper progression is a necessity.
1. DEATH VALLEYS (also known as: Suicides)
How to do it: You need a start line, plus a first sprint line, a second sprint line, and a third—and longest—sprint line. Each sprint will be twice as long as the last. For example, on a basketball court, start under the basket, sprint to the first foul line, touch, and then sprint back to the start. Next, sprint to half-court, touch, and then sprint back to start. Then, sprint all the way down across the court, touch the end line, and sprint back to the finish (under the basket).
Beyond the burn: This drill will also help you increase your speed, agility, quickness, stamina and endurance, plus it’s great for sports that require the ability to accelerate and decelerate quickly, such as soccer and football.
2. KARAOKE STEPS (also known as: Grapevine)
How to do it: Facing forward, begin moving laterally to your left by stepping left with your left foot. Then, bring your right foot in front, then step out sideways again with your left foot, then step your right foot behind it. Continue this sequence for a set distance or the length of a room and then repeat, going in the opposite direction and moving laterally to the right. Keep arms in a “ready” position—as if you’re about to play a piano—elbows tight to the body or at 90-degrees with palms open.
Beyond the burn: Doing this drill will also help with coordination, balance, and lateral speed. It’s great for all sports that involve lateral or multi-directional movement, such as football, soccer and basketball.
3. AGILITY LADDER: LATERAL SINGLE-LEG HOP
How to do it: Start with your right side facing the end of an agility ladder (or set up your own grid by placing straight markers, like pencils, or strips of paper, on the ground approximately 18 inches apart about for 10 yards out). Stand on your right leg. Jump sideways into each box down the line staying on the same leg until you reach the end of the ladder. Switch legs to go back down the ladder to the starting point. Land lightly on each foot, and keep the heels off the ground.
Beyond the burn: This drill helps to improve the strength in the tendons and muscles in each leg and is particularly good for runners.
4. JUMP AND REACH
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat slightly by bending at the knees and hips and bring arms back slightly before explosively jumping up and reaching for an object or target such as a basketball hoop. Land in the starting position and immediately repeat jumping. Focus on getting the most vertical height with minimal lateral, forward or backward movement. Start with one to two reps and increase as you become more fit.
Beyond the burn: This move increases your leg power and your vertical leap, giving you an advantage over the competition in basketball and volleyball.
5. RAPID ALTERNATING STEPUP
How to do it: Perform this on any type of step approximately six inches high. Simply alternate stepping up and down on the step as fast as you can for 30 seconds, increasing the time to 60 seconds per set as you progress. Switch your lead food halfway through your set amd repeat each set three to five times.
Beyond the burn: The improved agility, cardio, speed and mobility you get from this drill helps in sports ranging from football and running to volleyball and tennis.