Speed and agility drills are important for nearly all sports. There are a number of different types of speed and agility drills, and these can be used by an athlete to improve performance. Some of the most common include the ladder drill, lateral sprints, and hill climbs. The “in and out” exercise is also useful for this purpose. Generally any exercise which requires someone to run at full speed, while at the same time being precise in his or her movements, will improve both speed and agility.
Agility usually refers to how quickly an athlete can change direction and move in a lateral, or sideways, direction. Speed is similar, but is related to how quickly the athlete can run in a straight line. Both are essential for sports, but require different exercises. For this reason, speed and agility drills should combine both straight line and lateral movement phases.
The ladder drill is primarily to improve agility, but it can also help with speed. A ladder is placed on the floor, and the athlete must run over the ladder without touching any of the rungs. It’s common for an athlete to find this difficult at first, so the drill should be started slowly and then progressed to full speed.
Lateral sprints help to improve both speed and agility. Two cones are placed a short distance apart, and then a third is placed at right angles to the first two. This pattern is repeated so a diagonal course is established. The athlete sprints to the first cone, and then moves laterally to the second, before repeating this pattern for the rest of the course. This is one of the most common speed and agility drills and is highly effective.
Down and uphill sprints are also often used for speed and agility drills. These should be performed over short distances, so that the athlete is forced to run at maximum speed for the whole exercise. Downhill sprints are more effective at increasing agility, as the athlete will need to stay balanced while running. To start, these exercises should be performed on a shallow incline.
The “in and out” is another drill which can be effective at increasing both speed and agility. Cones are setup in pairs, with a short distance between each one, so that a square is formed. The athlete sprints between the cones without turning the body. This means that there are forward, backward, and lateral sprints included in the exercise.