The One Thing Your Workout Is Missing

Here's why it's crucial to include agility drills in your routine

Athletes at all levels know agility when they see it: think (NB BASEBALL ATHLETE) sprinting, diving, catching, getting up and firing a frozen rope to second base all in one fluid movement of athleticism. 

"Agility" is officially defined as the "power of moving quickly and easily; nimbleness, and the ability to think and draw conclusions quickly." I define agility as the ability of the body and mind to react quickly with efficient and graceful movement. 

Here's why improving your agility will make you a better athlete:

Quicker reaction time. Training and improving your agility means decreasing the amount of time it takes for your mind and body to react to certain situations while competing. Agility often determines who scoops up the loose fumble or who gets a glove on the hard hit ground ball up the middle. Hustle and heart are crucial, but how do those attributes help if you don't have the agility to perform?

Injury prevention. If we can train our bodies to move gracefully and efficiently in numerous ways, it'll be ready to move with grace when put into a potentially dangerous position. For example, if a defender lays a dirty slide tackle on someone they're much more likely to move their body in a way that avoids dangerous contact if they've put hard work into agility training. Strength and stability will go far for preventing injury when facing harmful contact, and should not be ignored. But agility can help athletes avoid such contact completely. 

How to execute your agility workouts efficiently:

Change it up. Sports are chaotic and random so your agility training should work towards that. Start by mastering the basic movements and coordination with simple cone and hurdle drills. Once you've improved your quickness, progress to more complex and reactive drills. For example, instead of just a drill where you sprint then shuffle right at the cone, progress to sprinting to the cone and reacting to your coach or partner yelling/pointing left or right just as you reach the cone. You should also perform movements that don't necessarily pertain to your sport. In fact, if you're someone who plays one sport all year round, the best thing you can do might be to train agility movements typically associated with a different sport. This can help combat overuse injuries while improving the connection between your brain and muscles.

Work your weaknessnes. If you don't know your weaknesses, your coach probably does! Focus your training on drills that will address them. Just remember, don't ignore your strengths - use those drills to have some fun, challenge yourself and push your limits.

Partner up. It's almost impossible to simulate game situations when training. However, doing agility drills with an equally skilled and motivated partner can get you pretty darn close. Working with someone doubles motivation, increases the amount of drills you can utilize and can also make hard work more fun. 


Try these agility drills to boost your performance:

Hurdles: There's lots you can do with hurdles, plus they improve your hip mobility. Start by going over them one foot at a time forward and then laterally. Advance the drill by doing lateral single leg hops.

Partner chase drills: This is a great way to simulate game situations. Set up cones in random locations. Give your partner a few seconds head start to weave in and out of the cones in any pattern then want. You do your best to catch them while keeping the same pattern. Complicate the drill by having the "leader" throw in a burpee or squat jump into the running pattern. 


Backwards ladder drill: This will train an often ignored connection between then braind and body which will prepare you for all the backward movement that happens in almost every single game in every single sport.

Adding a ball to any agility drill: We aren't just trying to be agile and fast, we also have to manipulate objects often with our hands (stick, ball, bat, glove etc.). Adding some hand-eye coordination to an agility drill trains your body-to-mind connection that'll improve your athleticism. Have a partner or coach toss you a ball at random during your agility pattern.This'll train your reaction time and keep your eyes up while still efficiently moving your feet and hips.

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