By Zoid Fitness Team on Nov 8, 2019 6:00:00 AM
If you are playing basketball, soccer or any kind of sport for a while now, you should know that having the skills and talent isn't enough for you to play the game at the highest level. Without physical training and proper conditioning, your broad knowledge of the game will be put to waste. You don't want that to happen, do you? On the other hand, if you are the coach of a high school varsity team, it's very difficult to build a winning culture and system if your players are not physically ready to take on the grind of training every other day and still being in optimum shape come game time.
Of course, there are a variety of ways in which different coaches build up the conditioning of their players. As for an individual perspective, each athlete has his own set of physical gifts. There are players whose athleticism lies in their ability to be explosive on their feet - may it be through jumping really high or having a quick first step. But then, there are competitors who do not have a high vertical leap but possess an excellent balance on their feet and display great flexibility in stretching out and extending their movements. This gives us the perspective that there is no single approach to helping athletes reach their peak performance.
However, there is a great starting point for these players to unlock more of their physical gifts. Developing speed, quickness, and agility (SAQ) are the hallmarks of a highly-conditioned athlete. If you are a coach, you cannot expect your player to perform more multi-directional movements if he is not agile enough to change directions while maintaining the needed speed to be effective. SAQ training doesn't just improve speed but also boosts the ability to accelerate and decelerate while stabilizing the lower body in absorbing the impact of quickly changing speed and direction.
So, if you are looking for ways to enhance your players' movement range and power, reaction time and overall motor skills, you might want to regularly engage your team in SAQ training. But you don't have to look any further! We have listed five important routines that will help you develop speed, quickness, and agility for your team.
1. Instill in your players the importance of warm-up routines
As each individual has a specific body type, there is no perfect running style or sprinting form. However, there are still ways in which you can optimize your players' form, and an effective approach to that is to constantly remind them that the basics are essential to their improvement.
You can begin by reminding your team that they should take warm-ups and stretchings more seriously. It is one of those very basic and common components of a workout routine that is often left out of the equation. But many forget that lack of warm-ups before games or training session could lead to muscle strains and even major injuries down the road. Even if an athlete doesn't have a scheduled workout for the day, he should still spend some time stretching so that his muscles won't tighten up, and he will feel more loose and flexible during his next training day.
Aside from injury prevention, are there more benefits that warm-ups offer? Definitely! While the most regarded significance of warming up is to increase blood flow to prepare you for the task in hand, devoting several minutes of stretchings before games or practices will also help improve the posture and mechanics of your players. So, how does that work? Stretching your muscles will allow specific joints to loosen up, allowing your player's body to extend a wider range of movements and motions. The positive outcome of that is your player can now do drills and exercises with more freedom of movement, helping him maintain proper posture and correct body alignment.
Now that he has learned how to maintain proper posture and mechanics, it will now be easier for you to introduce him to drills and exercises that will increase his speed and agility. Just make sure that your players always value the importance of warm-ups and stretchings, two great starting points for them to fully unlock their potential.
2. Consistency is the key to achieving full potential
As a coach who has seen it all, it's really amazing to see how excited young athletes are in putting in the work during training and in absorbing every bit of information and knowledge that will help them to see through the lens of the game in a clearer way. But we have also witnessed players with boatloads of talent and skills who tap out when the going gets rough or when the training reaches a very high intensity. However, this is not entirely the player's fault. It is also the duty of a coach or trainer to effectively pace their team by considering the combination of workload, fun and training intensity as factors in planning individual and team workouts. Through this in mind, you won't only strengthen your players' conditioning but also develop their consistency.
One way to encourage consistency from your athletes is to set reasonable goals for them to achieve, especially during the first few weeks of training. You have to understand your players' strengths and weaknesses and then begin their training by improving those weak links slowly but surely. Setting very high standards that are almost close to impossible to reach will only discourage them when they fail. It's important that these players achieve goals in a progressive way so that they become hungrier to attain more skills along the way.
Many trainers can attest to the fact that overdoing a workout just for the sake of making up for a missed session will not do the trick. The same concept can be applied to SAQ drills. For example, drills aimed at improving sprinting speed will be more effective if done in short bursts rather than forcing the runner to exhaust all his energy in just one motion. Repetition and consistency in these drills will also help your player to be more familiar with his body, thus allowing him to be more efficient and accurate in his movements.
3. Mental health should be as important as physical health
With more and more professional athletes being open to their mental health struggles, it just shows how important for these players to come to their games with a relaxed state of mind. So, why is a calm mind an important aspect in developing agility for your team? It's simply because agility is not just determined by physical attributes like speed or power, but being agile is to have excellent body coordination and quick response time. We all know that the mind dictates how our body will move, and if your mind is already crowded with stress and worries, then it won't respond to the quickly-changing situations during a game.
This then leads us to how athletes can enhance their mental agility. While regular exercise can definitely help in maintaining mental fitness, there are also natural routines an athlete can do. Drinking the right amount of water in a day can do the trick. Remember that water makes up 75% of the brain. So without proper hydration, our brain would not work as well as it is supposed to.
Another important yet oft-forgotten way to boost our brain capabilities is to have enough sleep. Sleep is something that we always take for granted, and the lack of it will definitely take a toll on our body. Not getting 7-8 hours of sleep every day will force the brain to function below its normal level, decreasing the speed and accuracy of its responsiveness. Encouraging your players to shut off distractions during the night so that they can relax their mind and go to sleep early will be a game-changer, you'll see!
4. Pay more attention to your players' recovery period
As a dedicated coach or trainer, it's expected that you would want your player to improve as many skills as possible. You experience this joyful sensation on seeing your players grow and do things he cannot do in the past. But as much as you want to exceed expectations and quickly develop his skills, you should also pay serious attention to how your player recovers in-between games and training sessions.
For example, if your team is just beginning to engage in SAQ training, you might want to do it four times a week only. The intervals in-between the practice sessions should be reserved for very light workouts like stretchings or even yoga. This type of schedule would not only prevent your team from sustaining injuries due to very heavy workload, but it can also heal their muscles from fatigue and allow them to attend their next workout fresh and energized.
5. Diversify your team's training routines
Sure, it's really important for your players to master a skill before they move on to learn another. But letting them repeatedly do the same set of routines to develop a specific skill is not the fastest and most effective way for them to improve. SAQ training is not just about working out the lower body. Hip movement and core stability are two of its most vital components. So, letting your players do lower body drills over and over again isn't enough. Worse, that kind of training will just overwork the lower body, leaving it more prone to injuries.
With that said, the key is to create a dynamic pattern of training routines that will not only help develop more skills for your players but also make each workout session a very enjoyable one.
So, if you're a high school team coach, a determined athlete or just an avid fitness junkie, putting in more time to agility training will absolutely help you reach your ultimate goals! Do you want your players to be at their peak performance? Is it your burning desire to take your game to the streets and show off what you can do on the basketball court? Then visiting the Movements and Drills page is the way to go!
If you are curious and determined to try how agility training can advance your overall performance, you can visit ZOID Academy to learn all about it! With over hundreds of specific exercises and drills to work out your agility and flexibility, we can assure you that you’ll never regret the moment you decided to choose ZOID. It even has a number of tutorial videos of agility drills that you can follow! You just have to go to the site, watch the tutorials, take down notes and then get ready to include the drills to your workout!
Players, trainers, coaches or gym owners, visiting the ZOID Academy is the right thing to do!