Many times when I talk about agility training to my athletes, I explain to them that I am trying to give them a set of “tools” to help them to compete better. I like using the analogy of tools because I feel that it works well for what we are trying to accomplish. As I tell the athletes, most of us have a toolbox at home. It usually has a hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, etc. If I need to hammer a nail, I go and get the hammer. If I need to loosen a bolt, I grab a wench. In some situations I don’t need the hammer, and in some situations I don’t need a wrench. I pick the most appropriate tool for the task and use it. It doesn’t matter what sport an athlete plays – football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, or anything else, many of the agility movements are hard to predict and practice for. My job is to give athletes the tools (skills) and teach them how to use them. I explain to them that once they are in a competition, I want their body to be able to react by instantly making the most efficient movement possible at that moment.
How do I accomplish this?
- Evaluate the athlete and the skills that are needed for their sport
- Teach them the basic skill(s) that they need to learn
- Have them learn simple drills using the skills
- Once they have begun to improve, make the drills more complex
It’s really just basic coaching/teaching. I do try to show my athlete what I want them to learn out of each drill and help them to understand why the skill is important in their sport. When they have gotten better at a particular skill or drill, I will make the drill more complex. I do this by either adding a reaction component or incorporating another skill at some point in the drill. Either of these will make things more difficult for the athlete and will further begin to cement that skill into their “toolbox”. As the drills get more complex, it also takes them closer to the point of being sports specific. I know, the only thing that is truly sports specific is playing the sport itself. We still need to strive to get drills as close to what may happen in a sport as possible. This definitely includes making the athlete react to something as part of a drill. (I’ll write more about this in a later post).
When you plan out agility training, make sure that you are stocking your athletes toolbox with tools that they can use.