Sports are exciting when athletes are explosive with their speed and agility. These are the moments that make or break competitions, that birth the richness in sports, and that make the audience drop their jaws in awe. These are the moments that makes sports dynamic, creative and intense.
In lacrosse, nothing is more entertaining than seeing a player roll dodge and fire a rocketed shot into the net.
In soccer, nothing is more dynamic than seeing a player sprint all the way down the field and score off of a counterattack.
In basketball, nothing is more dazzling than seeing a player break the ankles of a defender with their rapid change of direction and jukes.
In baseball, nothing is more impressive than seeing a player steal a base at speed, or hustle across home plate to put their team on the board.
This much I know: Athletes must have speed and agility to make these magical moments happen, which more often than not, are moments that are the difference between wins and losses.
Training for these moments takes deliberate, intense practice. Speed and agility drills do not need to be mundane, with athletes simply weaving in and out of cones as a coach blows a whistle.
Although speed and agility drills must be done at pace, there are several ways to set them up so athletes initiate the drill themselves and up the ante on their intensity. After all, when training speed and agility, athletes must train at a higher intensity than the game so they are prepared for the rigorous demands of their respected sport. Moreover, there are drills that reflect the spontaneous and reactive nature of the game, so athletes are prepared for uncertain scenarios.
Here are 5 speed and agility drills that guarantee intensity:
1. Acceleration Pinnie Chase
Set-up: Have the leader about 4-5 feet in front of the chaser. Make sure the pinnie is visible. The leader initiates the drill and runs toward a 30- to 40-yard finish line, and the chaser must snag the pinnie before they get there.
Benefits: The chasing component makes both players put in maximal effort. The distance is good for improving acceleration, as well as speed.
2. Resisted Acceleration Race
Set-up: Players strap into resistance bands, while their partner gives them moderate to high resistance from behind. The players in front race against one another to a 10- to 20-yard finish line.
Benefits: The band allows players to hone in on acceleration, and reinforces knee drive, aggressive arm action, and a long and strong first few steps. The race component makes it competitive to the finish line.
3. Rock, Paper, Scissors Chase
Set-up: Have two players face each other, chest-to-ground. They play a game of rock, paper, scissors, and the winner initiates the drill as the leader, while the other chases. Make the finish line 30-40 yards out.
Benefits: Since players have to decide what hand to throw, as well as react quickly with who wins, there is a lot of spontaneous thinking involved. Again, the chase component always ensures players compete and go hard in the drill.
4. Grid Tag for Time
Set-up: Create a 10x10-yard or 15x15-yard grid, and divide into two teams (can be 2v2, 2v3, 2v4). Designate taggers and non-taggers. The taggers tag the other players as fast as possible, and as soon as they are tagged they step out of the box. Once all players are tagged, the tagger sprints to a 30-yard finish line, and the coach tracks the time it takes to complete all of this.
Benefits: It is competitive, there is reactive agility, as well as a maximal speed sprint at the end. The two teams compete to see who completes this in the least amount of seconds, so the timing component ups the intensity even further.
5. Small-Sided Pinnie Tag
Set-up: Create a small space (5x5yd or 10x10yd) and have a 1v1 battle, where players try to snag each other's pinnie. Time who gets the fastest time.
Benefits: It is fun, competitive and reactive.
These drills ensure players compete against one another, whether this is for time, as a race, chase game, or for fun. As far as timing these drills, these will be a case-by-case scenario, so challenging players to beat their finish times, as well as others, is a great start.
Speed and agility training must always be competitive and timed, otherwise it is not speed and agility training.
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