The National Center for Sports Safety is an important part of the high school athletic landscape in Alabama. They provide much quality information to help you train your athletes and keep them safe. Here they provide some excellent off season drills to increase speed and agility.OFF-SEASON DRILLS TO INCREASE SPEED AND AGILITY 1. Lateral Plyometric Jumps -Lateral plyometric jumps help build explosive power, balance, and coordination by using our natural body weight. This advanced agility training exercise is essential for any athletic position that requires lateral coordination and power. For best results, be sure to perform this drill after a thorough warm up. 2. Forward Running, High-Knee Drills-Requiring only a basic speed ladder and your body, this agility training exercise is designed to improve foot coordination and speed for all field sport athletes. Simply run with high knees forward through the ladder, landing in every ladder space. For this simple drill, proper form is key. Be sure to land on the balls of your feet and drive forward with your arms. 3. Lateral Running, Side-to-Side Drills-Lateral running drills greatly improve both knee and ankle stability, making them ideal for court-sports and football. For proper form, maintain a low center of gravity and quickly step side-by-side through the ladder. Be sure to step both feet, one at a time, inside each rung of the ladder. While driving your arms forward, always aim to land on the balls of your feet. Repeat from right to left and then again, left to right. Proper form is the key to your success! 4. Dot Drills-Agility and explosive speed are achievable when you have the appropriate leg strength, something that is improved with basic dot drills. Dot drills are just one of the ways in which you can increase knee and ankle strength, giving you the additional stability you need for field sports, racket sports, basketball and soccer. Dot drills allow these athletes to fluently change direction without notice.To complete the dot drill successfully, use tape to place a small “X” on the ground in the pattern of a five, as seen on a dice; you may also use a dot drill mat. Start your warm-up by jumping from dot to dot with both feet at once. After you feel warmed up (approximately 30 seconds), progress to one foot hopping and then try to follow a specific jumping pattern. 5. Jump Box Drills-Great for your quads, glutes, and hamstring muscles, start by stepping into a VertiMax 8 or band with a medium to heavy resistance (depending on your ability). Keeping your knees over your toes, jump as high and as fast as you can. Land safely on the balls of your feet. Repeat VertiMax jump box drills for 10 – 20 seconds. 6. L Drills-L Drills, aka Cone Drills, are a popular agility training exercise used by coaches and professional trainers to develop rapid change of direction ability and speed. Set your cones up for the 3 Cone Drill. Start at the line in a 3 Point Stance. Come out low for about 5 yards, maintaining medium speed control, touching the line at the center cone.Once you touch the line, immediately return to the start cone, and touch the line using the same hand.Next, turn and sprint back around the center cone, planting off your inside foot for a hard turn and figure eight around the end cone (again, planting your inside foot). Make a sharp cut around the middle cone, turning on your inside foot, and sprint back to the starting cone, to finish the drill. Repeat 3 – 5 times. 7. Plyometric Agility Drill– Athletes use plyometric jumping exercises to build explosive power and speed. Additionally, these challenging agility training drills improve coordination, dexterity, and effectively improves sports performance. Using a set of small hurdles, jumping on one or both feet can develop agility and increase foot speed for runners and field sports athletes alike.Set up several small agility hurdles, placing about 2 feet between each hurdle.Start with your legs shoulder-width apart. Begin to jump upward and forward, clearing each hurdle. Be sure to land lightly on the balls of your feet. Upon landing, immediately jump again, driving forward with your arms. Repeat several repetitions.Repeat the drill on only the right foot and then only the left foot. 8. Shuttle Runs-The shuttle run is a standard agility training exercise used by athletes who play stop-and-go sports (i.e. soccer, basketball, and hockey). Shuttle run drills are an easy way to inject some high-intensity training into a basic conditioning program while you build speed, agility, and endurance.Set a training area with two markers, such as cones, about 25 yards apart. With explosive speed, sprint from one marker to the other marker and back. Repeat 6 – 8 times. Consider switching it up by including forward-touch-return runs, forward-backward runs, and side-to-side runs. Remember that your athletes need fuel to maximize their workouts and perform in the classroom. This information is from Sports RD, one of the leading information sources for young athletes.
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