6 Reasons Why Agility is so Important for Athletic Performance

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For nearly any sport or physical activity, the importance of agility for athletic performance cannot be overstated. This means that no matter whether you're an enormous football player, a tiny ballerina or just someone taking a casual jog around the block, increasing your agility makes a difference.

Sure, strength and cardiovascular fitness count too, though think about it: what good is either without agility? Even a hammer thrower needs good footwork, coordination and balance to go along with huge muscles in order to be competitive. This is because without proper footwork, coordination and balance, all the strength in the world is essentially nullified through a lack of efficiency and control of the device.

And, the idea of a 350 lb person without control of which direction a 16 lb shot is going is a bit scary to say the least--heads up!

And you thought foul balls at baseball games were exciting...

In all seriousness, if you're looking to be more competitive on the field or just want to be more graceful and less accident prone in daily life, agility training is for you.

Want to know more?

Read on for 6 reasons why agility training is important for your athletic performance, no matter the activity:

1. It improves decision making

You probably already realize that agility training has many benefits--although would you have ever guessed that making you smarter is one of them?

Yes, that's right--brilliant, in fact!

Okay so perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration since it's studying--not exercise--which will help you understand advanced math. However, agility drills will help you study more effectively by improving your concentration and memory so that you can be at your best on test day.

This is due to two factors:

  1. Studies show that aerobic exercise has many mental benefits including helping form new brain cells and increasing the size of the hippocampus. And, just in case you didn't know, that's the part of your brain responsible for learning and memory, which means you can improve your memory and ability to learn through exercise. This is also great news if you are older or are planning on becoming older (let's hope so!), since it has also been shown that regular exercise helps guard against age-related mental decline, including reducing age-related loss in cognitive volume by around 1-2 years.
  2. Most agility drills require memorization and coordination between multiple body regions along with concentration on such things as foot placement and correct form. And, these are all aspects which add yet another element to your exercise which enhances mental performance: brain work. This is because your brain is just like your muscles in that the more you use it, the stronger it gets. This means that agility training and its many elements of memorization and focus make it an even more effective means of improving memory, reaction time, dichotic listening (the ability to focus on one sound in one ear) and other areas of cognitive performance than other types of exercise. In fact, think of it as agility training taking over where other exercise leaves off--especially when it comes to mental gains.

Plus, there are other mental benefits to all exercise such as improved quality of sleep, improved confidence, improved sense of well-being and lowered stress response.

Altogether, this means that you will be sharper on the field and decision making will be more quick an innate. Plus, when you do see even the tiniest opportunity to intercept the ball, run through the defense, etc., you will have the reflexes, coordination and directional speed to back up your decision making so you can make the play.

So yes, agility training can make you good at nearly any sport--including chess!

2. It slows the game down

Now of course you don't show up on the field to put in a half-baked effort and jog lackadaisically about--that's just an absurd idea. However, wouldn't it be cool if your opponents did seemingly that while you ran circles around them like they were wearing lead shoes?

Adding agility drills to your training routine can make it seem that way!

True, your opponents are likely every bit as competitive and every bit as keen on winning as you (well, maybe not EVERY bit as competitive, but they're trying...). However, by improving your footwork, deceleration, ability to change directions quickly along with explosive foot and directional speed, you can enjoy an edge over the competition which helps slow the game down--for you anyway, though not the other team. They'll be rubbing their eyes and wondering how a Tasmanian Devil got on the field!

Plus, as stated above, agility training improves your decision making. This enables you to see the field or court better by opening up new options, which helps get you into that winning zone where you see 3 moves ahead and execute each one of them flawlessly like a hare running through a tortoises defense.

3. It keeps you healthy and on the field

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Nothing in sports is as frustrating as sitting ineffectively on the sidelines nursing an injury when all you want is to be in the game helping your team win--arrrgg!!!

However, when you add agility drills to your workouts, you are also helping safeguard yourself from injuries due to a couple of factors.

For instance, not only do agility drills help improve your nimbleness, reflexes, coordination and muscle response to help prevent falls and accidents, many agility exercises also help strengthen small supportive muscles and tendons in the feet, ankles, knees and hips. This means fewer nagging tendon strains, muscle pulls and painful joints to go along with less risk of sprains and breaks due to falls.

In fact, you can also add increased coordination to the list of injury-prevention benefits, since there is less chance of you performing out-of-sync moves which places undo stress in the wrong area. This can result in muscle pulls, strains and joint dislocations.

So get agile, stay on the field and win!

4. It helps you bounce back into action

You can't maximize your fitness gains without proper recovery, which is also something agility exercises helps with. This includes both muscle recovery from tough workouts, as well as rehabilitation from injury.

For instance, agility training often adds aspects of high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your workouts, which is an outstanding way to improve both functional muscle strength and cardio fitness. Together, these improvements mean shorter recovery time since the better shape your muscles are in, the more quickly they recover.

This also holds true for your heart which, by being more efficient, is able return to its resting rate more quickly.

Plus, if you do get injured, agility drills are there to help you heal. This is because by replicating movements related to your sport or activity, agility drills can be used effectively for non-stressed repetition of movement of the injured area to restrengthen it.

In short, agility training makes you more like a super ball which always bounces back!

5. It maximizes your speed and power

Shaquille O'Neal isn't in the Basketball Hall of Fame because he's big and strong, he's there because he's big, strong and has blazing speed and quickness.

We've also all watched comedy scenes where a little guy is running circles around some enormous brute who could easily snap him like a twig--if only the big guy could catch him. However, the big guy remains flat-footed and shows little or no mobility which, despite his all his muscle strength, makes him as ineffective as a slug in catching the smaller, more agile person.

This is why agility training helps, since it enables you to use your strength along with lightening-fast direction changes and nimble feet to stay with even the zippiest little guys.

In fact, you'll notice in footage of Shaq's playing days that he moved like a man half his size as he outmaneuvered players nearly half his size, which likely had something to do with his agility training.

6. It gives you more options and more tools to work with

When you can move quickly enough to take advantage of openings which a slower, less agile player cannot, you have a competitive advantage, simple as that.

And, when you develop your defense, power, speed, passing and other tools your sport requires so that all are at their strongest, you have an even greater competitive advantage, you animal you.

And, these are all things agility training can help with so that every tiny hole in the defense becomes an option which you have the tools to take advantage of.

In short, agility training can make you harder to catch than a greased pig!

Agility Training and Athletic Performance: The Connection

As you can see, whether your venue is the tennis court, football field, ballroom dance floor or just going up and down the front steps, agility training is your friend. In fact, agility drills can help you perform better on the field both physically and mentally while keeping you safer from injury and allowing you to recover more quickly.

Plus, there are other intangibles to agility training, such as helping you avoid burnout by adding an element of fun and variety to your workouts. This is important since when you enjoy your training, you are more engaged so that you train harder, longer and more effectively.

Most agility drills can also be performed nearly anywhere using simple drills and equipment which are limited only to your imagination.

For instance, need to cross a dry creek? Use one-foot hops from rock-to-rock to improve balance, coordination and footwork. This will help in such sports as soccer or gymnastics where precision foot-placement and balance are critical to performance.

However, most of the time you won't have a dry, boulder-strewn creek to work with--not to mention rocky creeks beds are kind of tough to toss in the back of your car and take to practice.

Better Yet...

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Instead, there is a simple, all around solution which enables you to perform agility workouts nearly anytime, anywhere: Zoid's one-of-a-kind, multi-sport, multi-surface, customizable system.

Made from 100% recycled tires and nearly indestructible, there is no need to connect Zoid's tools or to have to figure out any complex interlocking systems.

This enables you to create endless patterns, workouts and drills so that there is always an option to keeping things exciting and fresh. This also allows you and your coach or trainer to spot weaknesses in your game or fitness routine and immediately come up with workouts and drills to improve it.

So get fit, get agile, and take your game to a whole new level.

Even if it's only tag in the backyard with the nephews, Zoid will help!

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