Agility Training: Setting Up Progressions for Lateral Progress

Updated: March 2, 2018

Author: Mark “Coach Rozy” Roozen, M.Ed, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, TSAC-F, FNSCA

Agility Training

Agility training is more than just going out and setting up some random cones and running around a field or court.  When training for lateral movement and looking to gain the best improvements, you should put a plan in place for your quickness and agility training.

You wouldn’t go into the weight room and slap on a few weights here and there to bench, or maybe do curls, or shoulder press.  Then hop over and slap on some 45 pound plates on a bar and squat, or if you feel like it just do some step ups with the same loaded bar and go to town.  We hope that you go in with a program, a plan and a progression of increasing your weight, changing your reps and sets and adjusting your intensity during different workouts and with different exercises.

Follow some simple progressions with your agility training program as well and you’ll see huge benefits to your “action to reaction” success.  Here is how you should set up and format your program:

Level I: Change Directions

Forward-lateral-backward; first learn how to move your body in all different directions.  Set up and do simple forward runs and break off at different angles, run forward to a set point and back pedal when you reach the cone.  Begin with easy moves and progress with more difficult tasks.  Start at ½ to ¾ speeds with only doing 2 or 3 reps per drill keeping the distance short; 5-10 yards.

Difficulty: Low-Moderate Drill
Explanation: # of Movements = 1 (forward); Cut Angles = mostly shallow; Distance = moderate-high

Difficulty: High
Explanation: # of Movements = 3 (forwards, backwards, shuffle); Cut Angles = 90 degrees; Distance = moderate

Level II: Increase the Duration

Increase how many reps per drill you are doing, going up to 4-5, keeping the movement short.

Level III – Increase the Distance

Build up to where you are going 15-20 yards

Arrow Drill: 30 Yards

60-Yard Shuttle: 60 Yards

Level IV – Increase the Speed

Move intensity levels up to ¾ to full speed. Make sure that proper form and technique are still maintained for the drills.  If technique starts to break down, SLOW DOWN!  The key is to practice the way you want to play – not just go through the drill and get it over with.  TRAIN WITH A PURPOSE.

Level V – Add External Resistance

Example: Medicine Balls, Light Dumbbells, Bands, Inclined Surfaces, Weighted Sleds, etc.

Once you hit your stride – going full speed with high intensity, you can add outside resistance to work harder. Sprint to a cone, a partner or coach throws you a Med. Ball, which you have to catch and throw back before you make a move.  This increases the intensity of the drill, making you learn to not only move and change direction, but doing it with absorbing force, moving a resistance and getting your body to work as one unit – JUST LIKE IN A GAME!

Level VI – Progress from Closed to Open skills

Closed drills are drills where you know where you will go. There is a set pattern to the runs you do; go from Cone A to Cone B to Cone C. It’s the same every time, even if the distance and speed do change.  An Open Drill is where you would start at Cone A, sprint forward and have to react to a visual or audio cue to signal which direction you would need to go next , so you might go not even go to a set cone or land mark, but in a direction that was indicated.  By making it be a true reaction to a stimulus, it starts to prepare you for the chaotic environment of sports.

Audio Example: Whistle Starts

Visual Example: Tennis Ball Drops

Remember not to progress faster than what you can handle; let technique, form, the ability to accelerate, control while you decelerate and how you load the body in the proper sequence to be your guide.  By following a progression, and making sure the pattern of movement stays in place, you’ll see huge improvements in your drills, excel in practice and see success in your sport.

Contact us for “Coach Rozy’s Speed Ladder Manual”. Add another tool to your tool belt!

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