Can I improve my agility for sports?

Absolutely - we can all improve our agility which includes lateral movement and the ability to change direction for any sport. As with increasing performance in any athletic endeavor, proper progressions along with realistic expectations usually yield improved results. By just increasing our general level of fitness (increasing our endurance, gaining strength, improving flexibility, sustaining positive mental outlook, etc.), you are more likely able to improve in an area like agility. To progress further, follow this general guideline for promoting increased agility in any capacity:
  1. Improve your ability to slow down and speed up in relation to the ground. This is a progression of training that starts with improving your ability to decelerate your body and finishes with optimizing your ability to change direction utilizing core, balance, plyometric, and specific agility training drills;
  2. Integrate your optimized movement patterns and apply them to the specific agilities necessary for athletic success in your particular sport. Many times these sport-specific skills can be taught concurrently with training agility; and
  3. Add in plyometrics to increase reaction times and enhance the sport-specific agilities. Following this progression produces the best and most sustainable results.
Sure you can improve your agility for your sport. According to the NASM, agility is the ability to start (accelerate), stop (decelerate and stabilize) and change direction quickly while maintaining proper postural alignment (correct form). A great way to train for agility would be having better body control (stabilization). Considering you have to have a great amount of stabilization to quickly change directions, you want to start to train in that manner.
For example, if you are starting out you can begin with four cones about ten feet apart in the shape of a square.  Start off at one of the cones and jog forward to the cone directly in front of you. A couple of feet before you reach the target start to slow down. Here is when you start to decelerate and stabilize or control your body to change directions. I find it important to start slowly and progress the speed of the drill once you find that you can stop with good body control. Once you reach that first cone, side shuffle to the next cone and repeat the stability component. Once your reach that target back petal to the next cone and repeat the stability component once more. Finally side shuffle back to the start of the square. Once again starting this drill of slowly will not only help you with stabilizing your body, but also prepares you to move faster and change direction quicker later on.
Paul Winsper
Sports Medicine
Agility is a bio-motor ability that can be improved. However like all components of conditioning its development needs to be planned and integrated in to the larger program. Most sports demand high levels of agility, the ability to accelerate maximally, slam on the brakes and explode off in a different direction often makes the difference between making the winning shot or scoring the winning goal. Agility development requires a solid foundation of strength and a huge amount of body control, it is key that athletes learn how to produce and absorb force as efficiently as possible at pace and under pressure. Additionally, to truly develop agility we need to integrate the ability to anticipate, recognize, react and execute explosive movement.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.