In the world of agility and quickness training it is suddenly becoming increasingly difficult to search for and identify original techniques that can benefit an athlete in improving their change of direction ability. Fortunately, I've integrated a series that you can adopt with your athletes that cover a majority of the training need when it comes to agility and quickness development. Remember that after the initial cut or first step strategy the remained of movement is going to be accelerating the body through the act of sprinting. This is why raw speed is still so important if you, or your athlete is trying to truly get quicker. For example, Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs is undoubtedly the quickest player on the field, who also happens to have the highest top speed ability. These two skills are far more alike than different, which is contrary to popular belief in the training industry today. You would be doing you and your athletes a disservice if you aren't attempting to improve acceleration and top speed along with agility and quickness. But I digress. Lets get to the circuit and what it entails in terms of added value to your current training program.
First, the circuit covers a majority of your planting and cut types that would be encountered in competition. The three that I could think of are a linear speed, linear sharp, and t-break cut, which I will cover in a future post. Unfortunately, we don't even really recognize the need to work on specific change of direction strategies that are rehearsed in nature, and by addressing these in your training you offer yourself and your athlete a precious opportunity to learn how to cut properly so that it becomes second nature in practice and competition.
Next, in order to truly progress in training there has to be some form of overload or added stress to the body, which will then force it to eventually adapt and improve at a higher level. This source of overload can come in the form of added reps or sets, added weight or training intensity %, increased speed and power, diminished rest period, increased frequency, or slower tempo or movement speed, or a combination of each of these. Just remember that you don't have to continuously add more weight to the bar or strive to add more resistance to the body until the athlete can barely move with precision form to progress in training. Also, different approaches are more suitable for different training goals. For example, a slower tempo speed is better for muscle hypertrophy and balance-stabilization purposes since there is more force exerted on the fibers and we build better movement and spatial awareness that our movement systems can effectively recognize.
In this particular case I decided to add bands to generate a better first step response through the creation of ideal joint and movement angles. Often times, working against bands and sleds can remove the need to coach a lot of first step techniques (body angle, shin angle, arm and leg drive, tension, etc.) and the body just responds correctly out of instinct and necessity to overcome the resistance. Too date, this is the best sequence I have found for improving an explosive first and cutting ability in athletes.
Lastly, since it's such a low load with light bands, low velocity, and impact, the drill can be performed frequently which is only going to help athletes master such an essential skill in agility and quickness.