Athletes build agility fitness through training activities that improve the ability to change directions and making position transitions quickly. To do this, agility training must boost the fitness components of strength, speed, power, flexibility, and dynamic balance.
Training regimens usually include specific foundational training to (a) execute braking actions, (b) explode in any direction, and (c) rapidly shift weight in response to any competitive situation.
1. Build Explosiveness. Explosiveness requires an athlete to rapidly accelerate and decelerate using coordinated, whole body efforts.
In addition to ladder/tire drills, and similar drills, an optimal combination of squats, speed squats, power cleans, and similar Olympic weightlifting variations.
2. Decrease Reaction Time. Reaction time involves both information processing and the ability to move quickly. When an athlete responds to an opponent's moves, he or she must quickly consider the options, make a decision about how to respond, and then move in the proper direction.
Mental processing can be accelerated in practice through such techniques as narrowing choices, learning to anticipate, identifying cues, and visualizing appropriate responses.
Physical training involves reaction drills, line drills, hurdle drills, plyometrics and other such activities that force quick foot movement reactions. Lifts that require rapid foot repositioning are very effective (e.g., jerks, split cleans).
3. Capitalize on Efficient Movement Mechanics. Changing direction under control means that athletes have to brake or redirect momentum rapidly. Weight shifts require the development dynamic stability to maintain balance balance when reversing positions.
When building agility fitness, teach athletes to lower the center of gravity, shift weight in the direction of an anticipated, forceful collision, and use other mechanically-based strategies to combine mental plus physical training. See
4. Improve Joint Stability. Training must prepare an athlete's joints for the agility demands of a sport. Injuries inherent in the sport can be minimized or prevented with joint strengthening. Changing directions can place substantial demands on ankles, knees, and hips.
Strength and explosive training activities do well in strengthening and stabilizing joints, but additional attention may be required. Athletic trainers can perform tests to determine weaknesses or threats to joint integrity. It may be advisable incorporate additional single joint exercises, such as hamstring curls, leg extensions for quadriceps, and ankle strengthening activities.
5. Increase Trunk Strength. Shifting weight, reaching, and bending are examples of sport movements that require adequate trunk strength and stability, particularly when changing directions rapidly.
It is essential to include a variety of core strengthening exercises. Abdominal exercises, such as crunches, trunk rotations, and sidebends, should be combined with back hyperextensions, roman chair sit ups, and a variety of medicine ball exercises that emphasize trunk strengthening, stability, and flexibility.
6. Increase Flexibility. Agility fitness requires adequate flexibility to move through long ranges of motion with ease. Muscle imbalances that can contribute to injuries can be minimized through a combination of strengthening and stretching exercises.
A full body stretching regimen is an essential component of any sports training program. Special attention must be given to trunk, hip, and knee flexibility.
A standardized test of agility is the Hexagon Test. This brief Youtube video shows how it is performed. Each side of the hexagon is 2 feet long. The athlete completes three circuits of jumping inside and outside of each side of the hexagon as shown in the video.