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Agility: 4 Top Drills for Quickness

You get what you train for. No doubt about it. And when it comes to agility training, if you train slow, you will be slow. If you train fast, you will be faster. So what is agility exactly? The dictionary says “nimbleness.” In the sports performance world we define it as moving in all planes of direction without losing speed or balance. By the way, if you’re looking for agility training in Charlotte, NC, check out ULTIMATE ATHLETE today.

Most team sports require movement in all planes of motion…forward, backward, lateral, etc.  If you are an athlete in one of these sports, then to be competitive–to move efficiently in all planes of motion on the field or court–it’s essential that you train in these planes of motion.  Remember if you cannot move, you cannot play. It’s that simple.

In your training program how much time do you spend rehearsing these movements effectively? Just setting down a random set of cones in a controlled pattern won’t do the trick. And here’s why. In sports you rarely know where you will be going next–there aren’t any cones on a basketball court–so you have to train for the unexpected.

Side Shuttle Runs for Agility Training

Here are 4 agility drills I like to use with my athletes:

COMPASS DRILL The athlete stands in the center and reacts to a verbal cue of north, south, east or west. On the north or south call the athlete moves in the sagittal plane (forward or backward). On the east/west calls the athlete moves in the frontal plane (laterally).  This drill uses all planes of motion quickly and in a reactive scenario. Check out this video:

EAGLE TURNS WITH SPRINT Standing on the line in a ¼ squat athletic position, the athlete performs quick mini hops while waiting for a verbal or visual cue. When I signal right or left, the athlete maintains a ¼ squat and rotates their hips, keeping shoulders and torso square.  On “sprint,” the athlete must instantly sprint a given distance.  This forces the athlete to react and disassociate upper and lower extremities while maintaining an athletic position.

REACTIVE MULTI-DIRECTIONAL RUNS Two athletes face each other in a 5 yard square. I call out 2 multi-directional movements with a sprint being the third movement.  For example, I call out “shuffle/backpedal.” The athlete must perform both movements in the 5 yard square and then sprint the given distance. It’s one of my favorites for reaction time and quickness.

SHUTTLE RUNS Pick a given distance. I like using 100 yards with turns at 25 yards.  This forces the athlete to constantly be working on acceleration, deceleration, and reacceleration without losing speed or balance.  I can’t emphasize enough the importance of effective turns (hockey stop) used each time to decelerate.

So when you think about agility, you should be thinking this. How fast can I accelerate, then decelerate, react and move in any direction quickly, efficiently and under control?  Then think what drills can I create to simulate that environment?  First you must get comfortable being uncomfortable and get ready to react.  Like I said earlier, if  you cannot move, you cannot play! I know a lot of great athletes who have made a living largely because of their multi-directional skill. They have superior balance and control. I would go a step further to say the ultimate athletes are not only fast in a straight line but they have the ability to start, stop and react better than others. If you are a serious athlete, wanting to get even more serious about your athletic performance, visit or shoot me an email at