Tag Archives: deceleration

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?

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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?

Improve Your Speed and Agility with Jump Training

20 Apr

Lead%20Photo-1[1]Research has shown a definitive correlation between jumping ability and running performance, including speed and agility.  Generally, there is a stronger correlation based on the sprint distance.  The contribution of muscle power may be most important in shorter distance sprints (for example, 60, 100, and 200 meters), although middle- and long-distance running performance is positively impacted, as well.  Development of muscle power — via jump training — should be considered as  a component for training for most sports, including both sprinters and middle- and long-distance runners.

Running velocity, including the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly, has been shown to be a function of force and power production.  The high-power output associated with jumping activities has led researchers to determine that jumping tests could be used as a  predictor of running performance.

Force and power are obvious components of running ability.  Maximal squat strength has been significantly correlated to sprint performance.  So, how do you incorporate strength and power training — including jump training — into your strength and conditioning regimen in a relevant way?

Strength Training

Before you start jump training, including plyometrics, you’ve got to be strong.  In order to be safe and effective, high-intensity power training requires adequate strength.  Bilateral, lower-body strength exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Romanian deadlift will help you build a strong foundation.  Unilateral exercises like the stepup and Bulgarian split squat are more functional, requiring strength and stability

Jump Training

Plyometrics are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  These exercises, done correctly, are designed to help you generate the greatest possible force in the shortest amount of time.  Jumping rope and jumping jacks are basic plyometric exercises, and a good place to start.  Once proficient at these exercises, you can progress to multiple, continuous box and hurdle jumps.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Sprint-Hurdle-Sprint Agility Drill

8 May

hqdefault[1]Here’s another Speed and Agility drill we like for our athletes.  The Sprint-Hurdle-Sprint Drill emphasizes acceleration, deceleration, change of direction (lateral phase), and foot speed.

In the video, one of our athletes — a high school junior football player — demonstrates each phase of the drill.  Here’s the progression:

  • Left foot over hurdles, right foot outside hurdles
  • Right foot over hurdles, left foot outside hurdles
  • Both feet over hurdles, left foot first
  • Both feet over hurdles, right foot first
  • One foot over hurdles, left foot first (left-right-left)
  • One foot over hurdles, right foot first (right-left-right)
  • Lateral shuffle over hurdles, left foot first
  • Lateral shuffle over hurdles, right foot first

Distance between first cone and first hurdle = 5 yards

Distance between hurdles = 1 yard

Distance between last hurdle and last cone = 5 yards

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Improve Speed and Agility with These Drills

27 Apr

hqdefault[1]Here are two variations of a speed and agility drill we use with the athletes who train at our facility.  Both iterations of this drill focus on acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and foot speed.

Sprint/Lateral Slalom-Shuffle Drill

In this drill, our athletes start with a five-yard sprint; lateral (side-to-side) slalom-shuffle five yards (cones placed one yard apart); sprint five yards; lateral slalom-shuffle five yards; and finish with a five yard sprint.

Sprint/Linear Slalom-Shuffle Drill

In this drill, our athletes start with a five-yard sprint; linear (forward-backward) slalom-shuffle five yards (cones placed one yard apart); sprint five yards; linear slalom-shuffle five yards; and finish with a five yard sprint.

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?

Speed is Good, Quickness is Better

11 Nov

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 shuffling.
  • 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?

Improve Your Speed and Agility with Jump Training

27 Mar

Lead%20Photo-1[1]Research has shown a definitive correlation between jumping ability and running performance, including speed and agility.  Generally, there is a stronger correlation based on the sprint distance.  The contribution of muscle power may be most important in shorter distance sprints (for example, 60, 100, and 200 meters), although middle- and long-distance running performance is positively impacted, as well.  Development of muscle power — via jump training — should be considered as  a component for training for most sports, including both sprinters and middle- and long-distance runners.

Running velocity, including the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly, has been shown to be a function of force and power production.  The high-power output associated with jumping activities has led researchers to determine that jumping tests could be used as a  predictor of running performance.

Force and power are obvious components of running ability.  Maximal squat strength has been significantly correlated to sprint performance.  So, how do you incorporate strength and power training — including jump training — into your strength and conditioning regimen in a relevant way?

Strength Training

Before you start jump training, including plyometrics, you’ve got to be strong.  In order to be safe and effective, high-intensity power training requires adequate strength.  Bilateral, lower-body strength exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Romanian deadlift will help you build a strong foundation.  Unilateral exercises like the stepup and Bulgarian split squat are more functional, requiring strength and stability

Jump Training

Plyometrics are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  These exercises, done correctly, are designed to help you generate the greatest possible force in the shortest amount of time.  Jumping rope and jumping jacks are basic plyometric exercises, and a good place to start.  Once proficient at these exercises, you can progress to multiple, continuous box and hurdle jumps.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Agility Training

29 Aug

Linear speed is important, in sports, especially if you’re a sprinter.  Additionally, most athletes also need to be able to stop suddenly (and start again, quickly), change direction, and react to their opponents, all while controlling the ball.  These movements are what constitute Agility.

Agility Training is not necessarily complicated, provided you work with a trainer who understands how to train for this skill and how to incorporate Agility Training into your program.  The ability to change direction and react to situations should be your focus.

Agility technique is fundamental to Agility training.

  • The roles of visual focus (similar to sprinting) and arm action while sprinting – especially during the initial acceleration – are important in Agility training.
  • Safe and effective Plyometric training can be adapted to Agility drills.
  • Assisted and resisted sprinting are effective to increase stride length and frequency; and improve explosive arm and knee “punching” action and leg drive off the ground.
  • Basic fitness, strength, and power training are also integral to Agility training.

Agility Training should include three (3) components:

  • Acceleration and Deceleration – the ability to start and stop, and to speed up and slow down.
  • Change of Direction – the ability to alternate quickly between movements in any direction: forward, backward, lateral, and diagonal.
  • Reaction – the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and/or change direction, based on a coach’s visual or auditory signal or cue, or a teammate’s move.

Like Speed, Agility doesn’t really exist outside the context of lower-extremity strength and power.  The more force you are able to generate against the ground, the more effectively you will be able to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction.  Therefore, Strength training should be an important part of any Agility training program.

Research demonstrates that high-intensity, short-duration activities are useful in the recruitment and development of Type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers.  When configuring a training session, “Speed and Agility drills should be conducted early in a training session and structured around brief exercise bouts with frequent relief or recovery periods.” (Baechle and Earle; Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning)

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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