What is Agility?
Agility is a skill that most athletes seek to improve upon. It also seems to be a bit misunderstood.
Often times, athletes come in and say that they do not really want to work so much on strength. Instead, they feel it necessary to work on their agility. The big problem here is that the two are not exclusive, and in fact, agility primarily depends on strength.
This is not to say that agility drills are useless, because they are not, but to effectively develop agility, an athlete must work on the entire process, and not just the drills.
Strength and Agility
Agility, summed up, is the ability to absorb force and apply force for the means of changing directions. The LARGEST factor in developing agility is strength. Without adequate strength, performing agility drills is not only ineffective, but it can be very unsafe as well.
Every athletic movement can be broken down into 3 phases. These phases are the eccentric, isometric and concentric phases. The following pictures demonstrate this idea using NFL running back and DST Athlete, Ben Tate while performing a jump cut in our sand pit.
Eccentric reps are, for a simpler term, your negative reps. if we are talking about bench press; it is lowering the bar to your chest. Your body needs to be prepared to absorb force, and this is a controlled way to develop that capacity. While performing our main lifts, we may perform 6 second eccentric reps while our secondary lifts we may have a German volume-type method with 4 second eccentrics.
Your holds in a lift are called Isometrics. Any time you pause, it is an isometric hold. We usually put the holds at the most disadvantageous position in a lift. In a pull up, it would be at the top, but on a bench press, it would be at the bottom. This is important, because in movement, there is always a brief moment of isometric contraction between the eccentric and the concentric. In our programs, you will probably see 3-second isometric holds.
One of the best things about the first two phases, from a coaching standpoint, is that the reps are very controlled. This allows us to cue our athlete’s form before they get to the concentric phase.
The Concentric phase is purely focused on pushing weight as fast as we can. Concentric reps are not necessarily speed reps, but the emphasis is on the positive reps. when we are talking bench press, we are pushing up. On pull-ups, we are pulling up.
Developing these 3 phases of muscular contraction will help enhance your agility, but also will enhance your results from doing agility drills and allow you to perform those drills in a safe manner.
Try implementing these 3 phases into your program. Perform 2-4 weeks with an Eccentric focus, 2-4 Weeks with an Isometric Focus, and then 2-4 weeks with a concentric focus.