The most comprehensive guide to agility and speed training
If you are to compete in any competitive sport, speed and agility are some of the most important things that you will have to exhibit. In this article, we’ll have a look at how you can train to improve these abilities.
You need to get agility training and speed training because these will help you in any sport you play and in your day-to-day life. With speed and agility comes the ability to respond quickly and accurately to any situation that you might face. It is also a good way to remain in shape and serves as a good workout too.
We’ll start by explaining the difference between speed and agility as these are closely related yet distinctly different qualities of the body and are often confused. Then, we’ll have a look at some of the best exercises and drills that can help you improve in these areas.
What is agility vs. speed?
Speed and agility are often wrongly used interchangeably, but in truth, they refer to two different abilities.
What is speed?
Well, it is the ability to move your body in one direction as fast as you can. It is related to strength and stamina.
What is agility?
It is the ability to accelerate, slow down, change direction, and stabilize as quickly as possible while maintaining balance and the correct posture. It does require physical fitness but an alert mind and sharp reflexes are also important for good agility.
The best speed and agility exercises
The good thing is that no matter what your speed and agility status is, you can always improve on it with training and drills. Before getting to the drills, an understanding is required of the core faculties of your body where you need improvement to perform better when it comes to speed and agility.
Faculties of the body determining speed and agility
- Reaction Time - the ability to react to a change in your environment or a stimulus received by any of the five senses. Being agile needs you to be fast to react to the changing environment.
- Motor Coordination is the ability of the body to coordinate precise muscle movement to execute a reaction to a stimulus. Once you have great reaction time, the next thing you need is proper motor coordination to act in response to a stimulus.
- Muscle Stamina refers to how good and for how long continuously your muscles can contract repeatedly. This is something that you can develop in endurance and stamina training.
- Muscle Strength is how much force your muscles can exert to change the speed or direction of your body. This is developed by strength training workouts.
All these factors contribute to better speed and agility of the body as a whole and on an individual muscular level.
Following are some of the agility drills and speed exercises that you can use to get better at both speed and agility.
Speed and agility ladder drills
An agility ladder is one of the most economical ways for speed and agility drills. It is easy and straightforward, and you can use it without needing an instructor or helper. Here are two great drills that you can do with it:
Lateral stepping ladder drill
- Stand with an athletic stance lateral to the agility ladder with your dominant foot ready to lead.
- Place a Blazepod lightpod where you can see it and set it to alternate between two colors randomly.
- When color 1 lights up, shuffle laterally towards the right across the ladder, ensuring your feet land inside the squares.
- When color 2 lights up, change your direction and continue shuffling.
- Do this drill for 4 minutes, rest for 30 seconds and then do it for 4 minutes again, do as many reps as your fitness allows.
At the end of the workout, use the data in the Blazepod app to see how long you worked out and increase the duration.
Single foot hops ladder exercise
- Stand in front of the agility ladder on both feet. Set a Blazepod lightpod to alternate between two colors and place it where you can see it.
- When the pod lights up in color 1, hop across the ladder, landing in each square with one foot.
- As soon as the color changes, change the foot and start hopping backward and change the foot and direction again with the change of the color.
- Do the drill for 4-5 minutes, take 20-30 seconds, rest and repeat as long as you can.
You can use the Blazepod app to see how long you did the workout, how many times you changed the direction, and other stats about your drill to keep track of your performance and improvement.
Sprinting workouts are the simplest and most effective way to build muscle stamina, strength, and endurance, ultimately improving your speed performance. Here are a couple of great sprinting workouts that you can use.
Beginner’s sprint workout
- Start with warming up by brisk walking or light jogging for 5-7 minutes.
- Sprint at a moderate pace, not exerting more than 60% of your maximum ability, for 30 seconds.
- Slow down to a brisk walk for one to two minutes, for active recovery, don’t stop.
- Alternate between sprinting and active recovery for at least 20 minutes.
- Keep making the sprints faster over time and slowly increase the duration of the workout.
Advanced sprint workout
- Start with a warm-up session as in the previous workout.
- Sprint at a fast pace, approx. 80% of your maximum ability for 45 to 60 seconds.
- Slow down for 15 seconds for active recovery and then sprint again.
- Try making the sprints longer and the recovery times shorter and increasing the workout duration to 60 minutes.
These two workouts mainly build up speed by increasing muscle strength. The ones coming up next are good for speed as well as agility.
Cone drills for agility and speed
Cone drills are an inexpensive way of improving speed and agility that you can do alone or with help from a partner. Here are two simple yet useful cone drills anyone can benefit from.
- Place three cones 5 yards from each other in a straight line, and place a Blazepod light pod on top of each of them.
- Tap the pod on cone 1 to start the drill, then run to cone 2.
- Tap the pod at cone 2 with your right hand and run to cone 3, touch it with your left hand.
- Turn back around as quickly as you can and touch the pod again.
- Sprint back to cone 1 and tap the pod on top of it.
- Repeat the drill in the opposite direction to complete one rep, do 10-15 reps.
The Blazepod light pods will measure the time you take to move from one cone to another. This is mainly a speed drill but also helps improve agility as you have to change direction every half rep.
This is a drill good for improving change of direction, feet movement, and running at different angles. It will help you improve your reaction time as well as agility.
- Place four cones 5 yards apart to form a square, and place a Blazepod light pod on top of each cone.
- Start at cone one, tap the pod and sprint to the cone across from it; tap the pod on that cone.
- Shuffle laterally to the cone in front of the second cone, tap the pod, turn 45° and sprint to the cone in front of the starting cone.
- Tap the pod on this cone and shuffle to the starting cone.
- Repeat the drill 10 to 15 times, changing the direction of shuffling every time.
The Blazepod pods are a great way to record the time you take for completing the drill. You can measure the total time taken for the drill using a stopwatch, or you can let the Blazepod app do it for you. It will let you know exactly how much time each step of the drill took so that you can identify and improve on your weaknesses.
Soccer speed and agility drills
Soccer is a fast-paced game, with the ball speeds reaching up to 80 miles an hour. Players have to exhibit exceptional agility. That’s why soccer agility drills are formulated to train the players for remarkable reaction time and agility. However, everyone can benefit from these drills, not only soccer players.
4-Cone square shuffling drill
This drill is designed to improve the reaction time and agility of soccer players, especially under pressure.
- Form a square by placing four cones at 5 yards from each other. Place a Blazepod light pod on top of each cone and set the pods to light up randomly.
- Start by standing in the center of the square. As soon as a pod lights up, shuffle to it and tap it.
- Do not stop and sprint to the next pod to tap it. Alternate between sprinting and shuffling to tap the pods.
- Do the drill for 15-20 minutes before taking a rest.
Use the data in the Blazepod app to analyze your performance and track your improvement over time.
The weaving shuttle
The purpose of this soccer agility drill is to improve speed, agility, and balance while tackling the ball simultaneously.
- Place ten cones in a straight line, at a distance of 5 yards from each other. Place a Blazepod light pod on the starting and ending cone.
- Start by tapping the pod at the starting cone and shuffle through the cone, weaving across them as soon as possible.
- Once at the last cone, tap the pod on it, turn back as quickly as possible, and shuffle back to the first cone.
Use the data generated by the Blazepod app to monitor your performance and how you are improving.
Basketball speed and agility drills
Basketball, much like football and soccer, is a fast-paced game and requires changing direction and moving fast. Here are two simple basketball agility drills that can improve your performance on the court.
This drill improves reaction time and agility while also acting as a good cardio workout.
- Make a square with cones, approximately 7 yards in each direction. Place a cone at the center of the square, and this will be the starting point. Place Blazepod light pods on top of every cone.
- Ask a friend to light up the pods randomly. When a pod lights up, sprint to that cone while dribbling the ball below knee level and tap the pod, shuffle back to the center cone.
- Sprint to the next pod that lights up and shuffle back to the center cone and tap the pod, all the while dribbling the ball below your knees.
- Do the drill for 10 to 15 minutes.
The Blazepod app will tell you the time you take between the pod being lit by your partner and taping it. This will provide you with an accurate measure of your progress and improvement in speed and agility.
Figure 8 drill
This is a drill for improving acceleration, deceleration, body balance and control while handling the ball.
- Place two cones approximately 6 yards apart. Place a Blazepod light pod on one of the cones.
- Make an ‘8’ figure around the cones as fast as possible, starting at the cone with the light pod on it.
- Tap the light pod every time you pass by the cone. Repeat the drill as many times as your fitness allows.
The data generated by the pod will tell you how much time you are taking to complete each rep of the drill and how being exhausted impacts your performance. You can also keep track of how you improve by doing the drill for a while.
Track speed and agility workouts
Whether it is for a competitive race or a routine workout, being on the track demands speed and agility. Here are a track workout and an agility workout to help you get better on the track.
1-2-3-Back agility drill
The purpose of this drill is to improve reaction to an unexpected stimulus and build muscle strength and stamina.
- Place three cones 10 yards apart and one 5 yards away from the center cone. Place Blazepod light pods on each cone and ask a friend to light the pods one by one at their discretion.
- Start at the offset cone and sprint to tap the first pod that lights up.
- The partner can shout “back” any time upon which you’ll have to shuffle back to the starting cone.
- Do the drill for as long as your stamina requires.
Track your performance and the progress you are making with the data generated by the Blazepod app.
Run - shuffle - run
The ability to transition between running and shuffling is one of the most important ones in sports. It requires both speed and agility, and this workout will improve both.
- Place four cones on the ground, in a straight line, 5 yards from each other. Place a light pod on each of them.
- Stand at one end of the line, tap the pod on top of that cone, run to the next cone and tap the pod.
- Now shuffle laterally to the next cone, touch the pod and run to the last cone.
- Tap the pod on the last cone and repeat the whole drill in the reverse direction.
The Blazepod app will tell you how much time you have taken for each part of the drill and how much for the drill as a whole. Use the data to see where your performance is lacking and improve on it.
General speed and agility training exercises
Several general speed and agility training workouts and exercises are not specific to any sport and can be done by any athlete or enthusiast. You can find out more about them on the workouts page. Here are two of the best ones.
Pods on the wall
This simple drill focuses on agility and does not require a lot of stamina or muscular strength.
- Place up to 5 Blazepod light pods on a wall in front of you and set them to light up randomly.
- Space the pods so that you can easily touch any of them without having to move your feet.
- You need to tap the pod that lights up.
The Blazepod app will tell you the exact time between the pods lighting up and you touching it. This will provide you with the most accurate measure of your performance.
The best exercise for improving your speed is none other than sprints. Sprint regularly and as much as you can to build your endurance and ultimately the speed.
Statistics are important
We’ve mentioned Blazepod light pods in almost all of the workouts and drills above, so is it that you cannot do the drills without the pods? No, you can do any and all of these exercises without the pods, but the pods make the drills more meaningful for you.
To improve your speed and agility, you need to be aware of your lacking areas. Only then can you improve there. The pods and the app accompanying them give you an accurate and to-the-point measure of your performance and improvement. This can help you see where you are lacking and whether you benefit from the workouts and drills. The use of this cutting-edge technology will make the improvement journey more efficient and faster for you.
Speed is the ability to move quickly in a straight line, and agility is about changing your direction in response to a stimulus while maintaining body posture and balance. You can improve both these abilities with drills and exercises like the ones detailed above.
What activities improve agility?
As agility is the ability to quickly change the direction of movement and respond to a sudden stimulus, anything that involves doing these things improves agility. Exercises and drills where you have to respond to an unexpected stimulus by changing your body’s direction of movement are the best way to improve agility.
How do you improve speed and agility?
Speed and agility are acquired traits that you can improve by doing speed and agility drills and exercises. These can be done alone or with the help of a partner/coach.
Does jump rope improve agility?
Yes, jump rope increases stamina, speed, and agility. It is a great way to move quickly while focusing on the right movement of the body and decreasing the strain on the knees and back muscles.
How can I improve my agility without equipment?
You can improve your agility without equipment, but you’ll need someone to partner up with you for the drills if you do not have the equipment.
Is it ok to follow a strict speed and agility training program?
It’s not only ok but highly beneficial to follow a strict training program for speed and agility. These workouts are not only great for speed and agility but also build up muscle strength and endurance.
In which sport is agility most important?
Agility is important for soccer, racket sports (table tennis, tennis, badminton), American football, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics. Any sport that needs a quick reaction can benefit from good agility.
What is the human top speed?
The human top speed ever recorded was 27.78 mph which was achieved by Usain Bolt between meter 60 and meter 80 of the 2009 World Athletics Championship on August 16th, 2009. The average speed Bolt ran at in that race was 23.35 mph.