According to the dictionary (http://en.thinkexist.com/dictionary/meaning/agility) the meaning of agility is, "the quality of being agile; the power of moving the limbs quickly and easily; nimbleness; activity; quickness of motion; as, strength and agility of body." Sheppard and Young (2006) describe agility as "a rapid whole movement with change of velocity of direction in response to a stimulus."
In simple words, agility means the ability of the body to react swiftly and with high precision. This is a very important trait in any athlete’s physical make-up and hence forms a vital part of his/her training regimen. These exercises are also applicable for non-athletes as well, since agility is a trait that comes in handy for everybody. Household chores would need agility, running on a crowded trail would require agility, dodging a car on a high traffic road would require agility and so on.
For an athlete it is often critical that their body reacts well and without hesitation. Agility tests usually help to improve quickness and precision. The most common agility exercise consists of the agility ladder. This includes drawing a ladder pattern on the floor with the person maneuvering himself/herself in certain patterns without stepping on the lines drawn. Some other popular agility exercises are:
The hexagon exercise, which is very similar to the ladder exercise.
Rope skipping at various speeds.
Running in a zigzag formation while avoiding the cones.
Hi-stepping with emphasis on speed.
Running in a T-pattern while involving all types of movements – backwards, forward, lateral and forward.
The Illinois agility test, in this test the athlete would be required to complete a very complex woven course running at the highest possible speed, without knocking down any of the cones.
Shuffle drill, this is very similar to the Illinois test, but not as complex; the cones would be placed at varying distances and the course has to be completed running both forward and backward.
A Few Critical Points for Agility Training
Agility training is actually training to move fast laterally. In order to test yourself and measure your agility the following matters need to be taken into consideration:
Check how much strength you have on a single leg, to stop and restart movement; this is one of the critical aspects to agility, which would enable the athlete to cut off at top speed and start again without any effort.
Ability to decelerate, can you bring yourself to a halt from the top speed whenever you want? The ability to ‘apply your brakes’ when you want it and get the body to react in a proper manner.
Stability of the landing: are you able to land with stability with the least possible notice to the mind and body.
These three aspects are most critical to the overall concept of agility and those who master these would indeed be in advantageous position against their competitors. While training one should be careful to:
· Complete the drill without touching any cones; it is not as important to complete it quickly as it is important to complete it correctly.
· Build a rhythm and everything will make sense to your feet (you may like to use the old trick of saying in your mind "in-in-out" while training and see whether you can pick up the right rhythm.
· Use your arms always, unless the arm movements are totally integrated with the foot work you will never score big with this type of training.
Where Would Agility Exercises Be Most Helpful?
Though agility exercises can benefit everyone, it definitely adds a cutting edge to the overall physical readiness of an athlete. The improvement in agility will definitely improve the performance of any athlete in any sport. Whether it is soccer, boxing, tennis, baseball, football – you name it, agility exercises will help improve the overall performance.