This past weekend as I was watching the NFL Playoffs, I began thinking about speed and agility training. Speed and agility training has been a hot topic recently as showcase camps and recruiters have placed such an emphasis on drills such as the Pro Agility Shuttle and 40/60 Yard Dashes. When it comes to agility, with just one Google search you can find a million different drills to do with cones and ladders.
I was sitting there watching defensive backs react to the receivers that they were covering and I began thinking about what is wrong with the speed and agility training that is most commonly seen in those Google searches. Ladders and cones are a predictable motion. The coach calls out a pattern and the athlete does it. Over time it becomes easy for the athlete to move through the ladder or cones quickly because they memorize the movement patterns. This is not how real sports are. Sticking with the football talk, rarely does a defensive back know exactly what route the receiver that they’re covering is going to run. They have to react to the route. So why do coaches train speed and agility in a predictable setting? They should be using speed and agility drills that force the athlete to think, read, react, and then accelerate. I find this is the best way to train speed and agility as this is most effectively translated to improving in game performance and not just moving through cones or a ladder quickly.
Disclaimer: I do think ladders and cones can be used as a tool when it comes to speed and agility training, however, I don’t think they are the BEST method for increasing actual in game performance. When working with the youth population, ladders and cones are a great way for athletes to develop coordination and control of their movements.
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