I’m directing this towards you guys who enjoy playing sports but aren’t necessarily playing at an elite level.
You probably play for fun, but let’s be honest, nobody likes losing! It doesn’t matter if you just play socially or competitively, the primitive nature to compete and win comes to the surface when the whistle blows.
Having the physical capabilities helps you to perform at your best. The better we play, the more we experience that “positive feeling” after playing a good game.
I’m gonna show you some fundamental principles you can do in a commercial gym that will carry over into your recreational sport and make you more agile!
1. Ankle Mobility
Having the ability to get low to ground and having adequate forward body lean (check the diagram!) will greatly affect the way somebody is able to accelerate and change direction.
However, the ability to create that forward body lean and get low to the ground will be determined by the range of motion you have in your ankles.
Not only that, being able to transfer your strength into the ground is also greatly impacted by the amount of ankle mobility you have. If you can’t flex the ankle well because of tightness, you won’t be able to load the joint well and take advantage of the elastic energy in the muscles.
You can start to see why it’s important to have strong and mobile ankles. Although the greatest significance of all, is that it will reduce the likelihood of injuries.
If your ankles are restricted everything else along the chain must compensate, increasing the risk of injury, especially knee and hip issues.
A lot of knee pain can be eliminated by improving ankle mobility. It’s normally an overlooked area in this regard!
Here is a mobility exercise you can try in your warm-ups or in your rest periods to increase ankle mobility.
2. Low Level Plyometrics
There are a few reasons why low level plyometrics can improve your agility:
1) They strengthen the ankle complex, which is important to efficiently transfer power to the ground. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, if you can’t apply it effectively into the ground and take use of the elasticity of your lower leg muscles.
2) Low level plyometrics are very effective for developing that pop and stiffness in the ankles.
Check out the video below of a low level plyometric called “pogo”, this will give you a visual idea of what I mean by “pop in the ankles”.
3) They allow you to develop reactivity in relation to the ground. Another way to look at it is by referring to a term coined “Fast Feet: Fast feet = faster footwork = better agility”.
This is something I have personally had to work on and has made a noticeable difference in the way I play basketball. Below is another example of a powerful low level plyometric that will improve reactivity and strengthen the ankle.
3. Single Leg Strength
Having the ability to absorb and produce force efficiently will ultimately determine your ability to rapidly change direction. This is why doing single leg work, focusing on the lowering phase, will have a huge carry over to your performance.
The lowering phase teaches you absorb the force, this is why I love using tempos for my single leg work.
Example: 4-2-0 Tempo – Control the weight 4 seconds down, 2 second pause in the bottom and then explode back to the top.
Check the video below of a Bulgarian Split Squat using 4-2-0 tempo (the band is optional).
Just by improving single leg strength, your agility will improve. Most sports are played on one leg and these exercises simulate closely to what will be experienced in game situations.
I’m confident that if you focused on these three fundamentals, you would see a drastic improvement on your agility and would see improvements in the following:
Increase of ankle range of motion, which will improve acceleration, change of direction and reduce the likelihood of injury;Strength of the ankle complex, giving you that pop and indirectly improving your footwork;Increase of overall leg strength and ability to absorb and produce force.
Not sure how to add this exercises to your workout routine?
Here’s an example: In the warm-up work on your ankle mobility in conjunction with a 10-15 minute general warm-up. Once you’ve worked up a light sweat, get into the low level plyometrics to excite the nervous system. Now your body is ready to go and you’ll get the most out of your single leg strength work.
Don’t be afraid to try a higher weight, lower rep range to build maximal strength with your single leg exercises. You don’t always have to do a higher volume approach with your single leg work.
keep in mind that the above videos are some examples of my preferred exercises. If you wanna know more about different variations and possible combinations, stay tuned for upcoming posts about it!
Hope you liked it! Make sure to like and share it, so you’re not the only pro on your team!