Agility for Physical Fitness and Sports

How to Test for and Improve Agility

Agility Ladder Drill
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Agility is the ability to move and change direction and position of the body quickly and effectively while under control. It requires quick reflexes, coordination, balance, speed, and correct response to the changing situation.

To be agile, you are responding to what is going on around you, taking in that information and translating it into body positioning that will maintain balance and control. You are moving to the best position to take the next action, such as catching a ball or making a tackle. You are moving in a way that your body and sports equipment are in the right position to take the next action effectively.

Agility as a Key Component of Sports and Physical Activities

Agility is one of the key components of fitness and is valuable in many sports and physical activities. Think of the sports where you have to use agility. In team sports such as football, soccer, basketball, hockey, volleyball and rugby you must quickly respond to movements of the other players and of the ball.

In tennis, handball, squash, table tennis and similar individual sports, you have to quickly respond to the position of the ball. In surfing, skiing and snowboarding you must be agile to respond to the changing conditions of the surface of the water and snow.

Agility Tests

Shuttle runs are often done as an agility test as well as a drill to build sports agility. Markers are set up and you sprint from one marker to the other, do a quick turn and sprint back. The U.S. Military Academy uses a shuttle run test. The National Football League uses a 5-10-5 shuttle run as an agility test and drill.

The Illinois Agility Run Test is often used by schools and law enforcement as a test of agility. It uses a running course and involves not only a shuttle run, but also weaving between four cones. Because it has been used for many years, there are norms and a grading system that can be applied.

The SPARQ rating combines testing for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness. It is sport-specific as well as a test for general athleticism. The general assessment tests include the agility shuttle 5-10-5 to measure agility. For sport-specific agility, they use a lane agility drill for basketball, a shuttle cross pick-up for hockey, and the arrowhead drill for soccer. The SPARQ rating is used by many sports training companies and certified SPARQ trainers.

Agility Drills for Athletes

A variety of agility drills can be used in different sports to develop speed and coordination.

  • Lateral plyometric jumps: Jumps made to the side
  • Tuck jumps: Jumping straight up from a squat position, remaining tucked at the top of the jump before extending your legs to land.
  • Shuttle runs: Sprinting from marker to marker with frequent changes in direction
  • Forward-backward sprints: Sprint forward to a cone, then jog backward to the start.
  • Speed Ladder Agility Drills: These use a piece of equipment that looks like a ladder, and drills can be done running forward with high knees to improve foot speed for field sports, or running laterally to improve agility for court sports.
  • Dot Drills: These use an X-shaped pattern to jump from dot to dot with both feet at the same time. It is used for field and racket sports as well as skiing and basketball.
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Article Sources
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