AGILITY ULTIMATELY sets apart the great athletes from the average ones. Watch Steph Curry or Devin Hester break ankles on their way to epic scores, and it’s obvious: They’re not the biggest guys in the game, but they move so fast and so fluidly that they’re almost impossible to defend.
Agility is defined as an athlete’s ability to accelerate in a target direction as fast as possible, decelerate in that same direction, plant, and reposition body mass appropriately to effectively reaccelerate in a new direction—all within a matter of seconds. If an athlete can’t do that, they’re not only at a distinct disadvantage but also more likely to be injured.
The good news: While you might not have agility like Curry or Hester, you can always train yourself to get a little bit closer to that level.
That’s where the following five workouts come in. They’re built on classic exercises used by countless athletes to master agility training. Whether you’re an avid weekend warrior or just want to step up your game, these agility workouts can give you some fresh new training ideas to help you stay more engaged with your current routine, and ignite new development that can not only complement but also improve your performance. (And be sure to check out the five essential training rules for agility training that every athlete should know.)
Scroll through the list below to find each workout, plus a warmup phase, which will ensure you’re ready to perform at the highest level possible with the training that follows.
Travis Hansen, C.P.T., is the director of the Reno Speed School at the South Reno Athletic Club, and was recently named the leading authority on speed training for the International Sports Sciences Association.
Agility training warmup
Phase #1: Self-myofascial release:
a. Calves/peroneus: 20 sec on each side
b. TFL-IT band: 20 sec on each side
c. Hip flexors: 20 sec on each side
d. Quads: 20 sec on each side
e. Adductors: 20 sec on each side
Phase #2: Dynamic stretching:
a. Ankle mobility and calf stretch: 1 x 5 reps / leg
b. Linear and lateral leg swings: 1 x 10 reps / leg
c. Quadricep heel-to-butt stretch: 1 x 5 reps / leg
d. Internal and external leg cradles: 1 x 5 reps / leg
e. Forward split squat: 1 x 5 reps / leg
f. Lateral split squat: 1 x 5 reps / leg
Phase #3: Muscle activation techniques:
a. Front- and side-plank: 1 x 10 sec. each
b. Glute bridges: 1 x 10 reps
c. Quadruped / bird dogs: 1 x 5 reps per leg
On your hands and knees, extend your right leg behind you and your left arm in front of you. Return to start. Then extend your right arm and your left leg behind you. That’s one rep.
d. Clamshells: 1 x 10 sec isometric hold
Lie down on your side with your knees bent slightly. Wrap an elastic band around your knees and slowly open and close your legs.
Phase #4: Explosive plyometrics:
a. Lateral anklings: 2–3 sets x 10 yards each direction; 30 sec rest
Perform a series of stutter steps as quickly as you can for 5-10 yards. Keep your feet as low to the ground during each step as possible.
b. Lateral barrier jumps: 2–3 sets x 10 sec; 30 sec rest
Use a 12-18″ tall barrier or low hurdle. Jump back and forth sideways over the barrier. Focus on landing lightly on the balls of your feet.