what is agility?

charlie writes that agility is a form of special strength combined with body awareness… however, he never really gives examples of agility work. can somebody help me out?

Do a search for agility or agility training. Also look for football coaches post regarding this topic.

Agility is a series of plyometric movements aswell as acceleration and deceleration. It is recommended that to improve agility you should work on plyos and core work. Accelerations will also help.

“Agility work” is a way to make quick cash off of unsuspecting athletes and coaches.

Sorry, had to get that one in. :slight_smile:

Number two,
can you explain why? I have heard this before but can you give a simple answer why agility need not to be trained?
I know it puts uneeded stress on connective tissue etc. but what else?


I’m not saying that “agility” work is not required. What I’m saying is that whole conditioning programs that are based primarily on “agility” or “sports specific” training offer less benefits and create more overuse problems than a well structured program.

Charlie has always said that you have to take into account the work being done in an athlete’s chosen sport, as that will be a large proportion of their overall conditioning “pie”. So, if we discuss basketball, my experience has shown that basketball is being played throughout the year - even in the off-season to keep skills sharp. But they are jumping, cutting, sliding, sprinting all of the time.

So where do you fit in your agility work if you are doing weights, sprints, tempo, med-ball work and other training. It would be redundant to do more agility and costly, in terms of connective tissue wear-and-tear. And, from a realist point of view, my experience has shown me that because athletes are playing b-ball all year round, they always have some soft-tissue or joint problems. Doing more agility work is counterproductive - so I end up working on weightlifting, linear sprints and med-ball throws.

Where I see agility going wrong is when the coach blindly lays out the cones, hurdles, ladders, etc. and runs through scripted workouts that end up being special endurance workouts or glorified warm-ups, hitting that middle-zone Charlie warns us about - No adaptation, but lots of overuse problems.

I have more to say on this topic, but I have to move a tree from our backyard to our front-yard before the sun goes down. :frowning: Thanks.

Great post. Cleared up alot of the questions I had.
What about off season when the athlete is not playing there sport. Just weight training and training for speed. If there sport has an “agility” component how and should this be trained?

Okay, the tree has been relocated to the front of the house. Hopefully it survives the relocation program.

As for off season agility programs for sports that do not play a lot in the off-season, you can include agility work. There are some strict guidelines that I follow for implementing though, including:

  • Try to make the work as “hind-brain” (as Charlie would put it) as possible, particularly if the speed at which you are doing it is high. If the work is too complex, you will have “paralysis-by-analysis” as Charlie often cites.

  • Agility work would progress AFTER a good weight program has been in place and strength consolidated. Also, I would make sure that a good linear sprint program is in place, as well as some simple plyos. Since agility work can be plyometric in terms of the foot contacts and impacts, it’s good to have the athletes perfect and adapt to simple plyos.

  • Work slow to fast in your progression. Faster work entails greater ground forces, but also can result in poor execution. Since a lot of agility work requires you to lower your hips, we do a lot of lunging and squatting drills in the first few weeks moving over 10m to 30m in distance.

  • Pick an appropriate surface. Grass is a great surface on which to start. It gives vertically and horizontally. Then you can move to turf (field turf) and then to hardwood.

I was speaking to Al Vermeil last week and we were discussing the merits (or lack of merits) of speed ladders. We didn’t like them for anything. Al did like using tires and raised ropes because it forces the athletes to lift their feet up and move.

Hope this helps.

Any use for bannana hurdles?


Do you feel that agility ladders have any benifit for any sport? How about for working footspeed in combat sports such as wrestling or boxing?

You’ve got me thinking, thanks!

If one of my MMA guys looked down while trying to move his feet through in a certain foot pattern like you do in a ladder, i bet it’s safe to say he would get knocked out!!! LOL

alot of the agility work i do with my guys consists of games we made up. Wall ball, team handball, and dont forget dodge ball, which has the 5 D’s: dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge. :smiley:

So are you saying cone drills and agility ladder work won’t improve your quickness, agility, and overall athleticism?

Precisely what I was going to say. In a combat sport, your footwork MUST be hind brain. You are so busy trying not to get hit and plan your attack that you cannot be thinking about where to place your feet.

I studied Jeet Kune Do for a while and actually went to a few seminars by Dan Inosanto and Ted Wong (both disciples of Bruce Lee). I couldn’t beleive how much work we did on footwork as it set up everything in this fighting art. Bruce Lee had taken the footwork concept from fencing which involves a lot of attacking and retreating. The footwork was specific to the fighting we were going to do. We weren’t stepping through agility ladders.

For a developing athlete, this type of work (including banana hurdles) will help them with general fitness and coordination. So, in the end, they will improve their movement.

My whole point is that there are several other more effective ways to skin a cat. What I see out there is people promoting products for training, rather than promoting good coaching, well thought out training plans and common sense.

I feel that even if you didn’t have cones, hurdles, ladders, ets. - you should still be able to develop a world class athlete in any sport. Most movement on the field of play does not take place with stationary objects placed on the field. Everything is dynamic and flowing and unpredictable.

I use them for climbing up to my tree house:)

That makes sense. It is pretty depressing to think about all the time and effort I put into poor training methods and workout plans as an athlete. I don’t want my athletes to have the same experience.
You are saying it would be better to focus our summer agility work for football on more reaction type drills (wave drill, etc)?

This is precisely what I was asking about. I know that the ladder is definitely not for SPP, but why wouldn’t it be a good tool to increase footspeed during GPP.

If MMA guys held on to a bar on his shoulders while squating during a match it’s fair to say that he would get knocked out too, so should we eliminate squats from training too?

not the same arguement firebird…

Speed ladders are for footwork and agility and is specific

Squating is for strength and is a general transfer

I try to keep tracking and hip movements to be a priority-not foot plants.

Footwork may be specific, but footspeed is general prep.