Agility exercises are used by athletes of all disciplines to improve speed, reaction time, conditioning, and precision. Some of the different types of agility exercises include ladder runs, lateral sprints, rope skipping, and zigzag sprints. An exercise may also be modified for sport specific benefits, but in general agility will benefit all athletes. Most agility exercises aren’t meant to be physically demanding, but instead to be performed in a controlled and precise manner.
One of the most common agility exercises is the ladder run. In this exercise, a ladder is placed on the floor, and the athlete then runs over it with both feet landing between each rung. It's important that the athlete avoids touching the ladder at any point, as this avoidance helps to increase precision. In some cases, a specially made hexagon grid is used for a similar exercise.
Most sports require lateral speed, which is how fast an athlete can change direction and move sideways. For this reason, lateral sprints are a common agility exercise. To perform a lateral sprint, cones are set up at right angles to each other a small distance apart. The athlete should sprint to the first, and then sidestep to the next.
Rope skipping is an effective agility exercise that can be performed at home or in the gym. In order to gain the most benefit from this exercise, the athlete should skip at various speeds. As with any agility exercise, precision is more important than speed; the athlete should only skip at a speed at which he or she is able to exercise without touching the rope.
Zigzag running is similar to lateral sprints in that the exercise is designed to practice changes in direction. Instead of sidestepping though, the athlete sprints between cones which are setup in a zigzag pattern. It’s important that the athlete gets as close to the cones as possible without touching them. Zigzag sprints can help to improve an athlete’s response time and speed.
There are a number of other agility exercises. For example, running between cones setup in a T shape can increase the athlete’s speed in all directions. Shuttle runs and sprinting between cones in a box shape can also be used. Some agility exercises can be modified for sport specific benefits. A soccer training session, for example, may use the same exercises but with a soccer ball to increase ball control skills.