Tag Archives: agility training

Agility Training Improves Cognitive Performance

8 May

The influence of agility training on athletic performance and general fitness is well-documented.  A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that agility training is more effective than traditional physical training for improving cognitive performance, including reaction time, dichotic listening, and memory.

In the study, traditional physical training consisted of calisthenics and running.  Agility training included non-linear exercises and drills that focused on foot-speed, acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Agility training seems to have the ability to positively affect several regions of the brain, resulting in improvements in cognitive function and performance.

The study authors suggest that agility training be incorporated into existing physical training programs as a way to improve physical and cognitive performance. The benefits of agility training are likely to occur in various populations, and are not limited to any one specific demographic.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You’ve Got to Practice at Game Speed

6 Mar

12307967-standard[1]As the AAU basketball season is upon us, I am reminded of watching our high school girls team — including my daughter — play their first tournament games of the season.  They did some things well and, of course, there were some areas that required improvement.

Invariably, the areas for improvement must start at practice.  At times, much of what the players did, especially offensively, looked hurried to the point that it adversely affected their execution.  It looked like the speed of the game made the players (think they had to) rush their shooting — jump shots and layups — as well as their offense in general.

My point is this: Finishing a layup, when you’re moving at full-speed, in “traffic,” is a tough thing to do.  If, when you practice layups, your drives to the basket are done at about 75% speed and uncontested, it’s unlikely you’ll develop the focus and muscle memory to control your body and shoot with the proper “touch” when you’re driving to the basket, full-speed, in a game situation.  It’s essential to practice like you play… at game speed.

The same principle applies to your speed and agility training.  When you perform your exercises and drills, it’s important to get yourself moving at full speed.  If you practice and train at less than full speed, what do you expect to happen in game situations?

If you’re a coach or trainer, here’s a speed and agility training tip:  You must allow adequate time for full recovery between exercises and drills.  If we want athletes to perform these drills at 100% effort, allowing for full recovery is necessary.  Otherwise, what we’re doing is conditioning.  There’s nothing wrong with conditioning, if that’s your goal, but it’s different from speed and agility training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Speed is Good, Quickness is Better

3 Mar

072613Athletes1_t670[1]Speed is a difference maker in virtually every sport. For an athlete, it can mean a competitive advantage. For a team, it can mean the difference between winning and losing.

But, as important as speed is (and it is important), very few sports require only straight-line speed. Change of speed and direction, and the ability to react quickly, are critical to athletic performance, and as important as — if not more important than — linear speed.

Quickness (agility) is the ability to react and change speed — accelerate (speed-up) and decelerate (slow-down) — and change direction quickly and effectively. Agility is a skill that can be developed through a variety of drills, which should reflect the demands and movement patterns of the sport. Since most sports require reaction and agility, an athlete’s training plan should incorporate some type of agility training.

  • Agility training should involve movement in all directions, and require the athlete to alternate among forward running, backpedaling, and lateral movement.
  • Drills that require the athlete to alternate between acceleration and deceleration should be a component part of agility training.
  • Agility training should also incorporate an element of reaction, with the athlete being required to react to a verbal or visual command, or mimic/mirror the movement patterns of a training partner (reflective drills).

There are lots of great resources for agility training. I like Developing Agility and Quickness, part of the NSCA’s Sport Performance Series, by Dawes and Roozen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

There is No Off-Season

16 Oct

broncos-offseason-workout_1398097292643_4162445_ver1.0_640_480[1]

If you’re serious about winning, there is no off-season.

Winning — and the process of self-improvement that leads to winning — is a year-round endeavor.

Strength, speed, and agility training; sport-specific skill development; and proper nutrition require consistent, continuous effort.

That’s not to say that winning — or succeeding — requires an obsessive, all-or-nothing approach that lacks balance and perspective.

It simply means that you’ve got to be committed to the process.  And that process must be incorporated into your off-season, pre-season, and in-season phases.

During the off-season, you’ve got to build it; During the pre-season, you’ve got to refine and perfect it; During the season, you’ve got to maintain it.

Taking a break, every once in a while, is good for your physical and psychological well-being.  At Athletic Performance Training Center, we like our athletes to take an “unloading” week at the end of each cycle — 12 weeks “on,” 1 week “off.”  During their unloading week, we don’t want to see them in the weight room or at the gym.

However, prolonged time away from your training results in erosion of your physical capabilities and sport-specific skills.

The same principles apply to academics, the arts, and business/professional development.

Read more about Why You Shouldn’t Treat the Off-Season Like a Vacation.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Jump, Sprint Training Improves Sport Performance

14 Sep

Combined plyometric and sprint training improves skill performance in soccer players, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

A specific combined plyometric and sprint training, within regular soccer practice, improved explosive actions compared with conventional sport-specific training only.

The combined program had a beneficial impact on sprinting, change of direction, jumping, and ball-shooting speed; as well as improvements in agility and acceleration.

The training protocol used in the study included nine weeks of twice-weekly training sessions.  The plyometric-sprint training program incorporated jumping, hurdling, bouncing, skipping, and footwork, prior to the soccer training.

Several other studies suggest that the benefits of plyometric and sprint training also apply to performance improvement in other sports, including basketball, football, and volleyball.

Based on this information, it would seem advisable that athlete sport preparation include a well-designed and -supervised, combined plyometric and speed training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Lateral Agility Ladder Drills

13 May

hqdefault[1]A component of our Speed and Agility training involves working on footwork and foot speed.  When using the agility ladder, we like our athletes to perform drills that involve both linearforward and backward — and lateral movements.

Here’s a short video clip in which one of our athletes demonstrates a few lateral agility ladder drills.  This particular progression involves the following drills, performed in both directions:

  1. Lateral shuffle
  2. Lateral crossover (foot over foot)
  3. Lateral crossover (foot under foot)
  4. Carioca

The “foot under foot” drill becomes more challenging when performed at high speed, as your muscle memory will try to turn it into carioca.

These drills should be performed as quickly as they can be done, cleanly (without mangling the ladder).  For the purpose of this video, I asked our athlete — a local high school football player — to demonstrate the drills at a slower speed to better show the correct footwork.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can’t Do It All in the Weight Room

1 Apr

Speed-Resistance-Training-Parachute-1[1]Strength and speed development start in the weight room.  Stronger and faster is the foundation for athletic performance improvement.

But you can’t do it all in the weight room.  What you do outside the weight room will also have an impact on your performance.  Speed and agility training, sport-specific skill development, nutrition, rest and recovery, and mental preparation also complement and play an important role in your development as an athlete.

Speed and Agility Training

Speed development involves a combination of 3 components:

  • Technique — running form and mechanics
  • Assisted and resisted sprinting
  • Strength and power training, including plyometrics

Agility training utilizes exercises and drills that require acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Sport-Specific Skill Development

Strong and fast is important, but it won’t help you overcome weak ball-handling and shooting skills.  Regardless of the sport(s) you play, skills practice — with proper technique and lots of repetition — will be critical to your progress and success as an athlete.  Time spent on the court, in the batting cage, etc. should focus on quality, and a knowledgeable, experienced coach or trainer can be a valuable resource to make the developmental process more efficient and effective.  Video is also a great tool for performance development (the camera never lies).

Nutrition

Eating the right foods — quantity and quality — is important for two reasons: energy and recovery.  Before you exercise, practice, or play, your nutritional choices help to ensure that you will have adequate energy to perform optimally.  Afterward, the proper balance of nutrients helps with your body’s recovery process, preparing your body for next time.  You should aim to get most of your nutrients from whole foods, and nutritional supplements (multi-vitamin, protein) can also be helpful — especially since active individuals and athletes have a considerably higher need for nutrients to support an active metabolism.

Rest and Recovery

When it comes to strength and speed development, more is not necessarily better.  The goal should be to avoid burnout and injury caused by over-training, doing as much as you need to do to reach your performance goals, and not necessarily as much as you can (please note this does not mean do as little as you can).  Since training places physical and metabolic stress on your body, rest and recovery is necessary for your musculoskeletal system’s regenerative process.  Generally, there is a correlation between the intensity of your training and the amount of rest required by your body to continue to perform at an optimal level.  Make sure you allow for adequate rest during and between workouts, and get a good night’s sleep.

Mental Preparation

In addition to preparing your body, you’ve got to prepare your mind.  Elements of effective mental preparation include goal setting, visualization, focus, confidence, and commitment.  Be a smart athlete — a student of the game.  Be positive and adaptable, and utilize positive self-talk as a motivator.  Expect success and prepare accordingly.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Foot Speed With This Agility Drill

7 Jan

mqdefault[1]Ideally, the purpose of an agility drill should be to develop the athlete’s proficiency in as many of the following skill areas as possible:

  • Acceleration
  • Deceleration
  • Change of Direction
  • Reaction
  • Foot Speed

Here are two of our student-athletes — both high school sophomore football players — demonstrating an agility cone drill, performed both laterally and linearly.

Lateral Shuffle Agility Cone Drill

Linear (forward/backward) Agility Cone Drill

The following coaching tips should be emphasized:

  • Fast feet — short, quick steps — NO long strides
  • Maintain arm action/pump — don’t leave them down at your sides
  • Stay in a low, athletic stance
  • Chin up, chest up; don’t look down at your feet

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Agility Training and Cognitive Performance

3 Jan

agility_action3-500x400[1]The influence of agility training on athletic performance and general fitness is well-documented.  A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that agility training is more effective than traditional physical training for improving cognitive performance, including reaction time, dichotic listening, and memory.

In the study, traditional physical training consisted of calisthenics and running.  Agility training included non-linear exercises and drills that focused on foot-speed, acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Agility training seems to have the ability to positively affect several regions of the brain, resulting in improvements in cognitive function and performance.

The study authors suggest that agility training be incorporated into existing physical training programs as a way to improve physical and cognitive performance. The benefits of agility training are likely to occur in various populations, and are not limited to any one specific demographic.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You’ve Got to Practice at Game Speed

13 Nov

12307967-standard[1]This past weekend, I watched our high school girls varsity basketball team — including my daughter — play their first scrimmage of the season.  We did some things well and, of course, there were some areas that will require improvement.

One of our areas for improvement must start at practice.  Much of what we did, especially offensively, looked hurried to the point that it adversely affected our execution.  It looked like the speed of the game made us (think we had to) rush our shooting — jump shots and layups — as well as our offense in general.

My point is this: Finishing a layup, when you’re moving at full-speed, in “traffic,” is a tough thing to do.  If, when you practice layups, your drives to the basket are done at about 75% speed and uncontested, it’s unlikely you’ll develop the focus and muscle memory to control your body and shoot with the proper “touch” when you’re driving to the basket, full-speed, in a game situation.  It’s essential to practice like you play… at game speed.

The same principle applies to your speed and agility training.  When you perform your exercises and drills, it’s important to get yourself moving at full speed.  If you practice and train at less than full speed, what do you expect to happen in game situations?

If you’re a coach or trainer, here’s a speed and agility training tip:  You must allow adequate time for full recovery between exercises and drills.  If we want athletes to perform these drills at 100% effort, allowing for full recovery is necessary.  Otherwise, what we’re doing is conditioning.  There’s nothing wrong with conditioning, if that’s your goal, but it’s different from speed and agility training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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