By Zoid Fitness Team on Sep 12, 2019 3:10:00 PM
Agility is an invaluable ability for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. More specifically, agility is known as the ability to move quickly and easily – and in many cases, you might not even realize just how much it comes in handy, or how often you use it.
For some individuals, agility comes as second nature. They’re able to dart and dash around easily in any situation, without hesitation. On the other hand, while many athletes are born with a natural sense of agility, some have to work at it a little harder than others.
Regardless of how easily your sense of agility and the physical ability to execute on it comes to you, making a conscious effort to recognize when and how you need to use your agility can go a long way towards better achieving your athletic goals. Agility can be the difference-maker on the field or in the gym honing your abilities.
Below are 10 of the most common movements that require agility.
On the field
Whether you’re pursuing a soccer scholarship or just playing flag football with your friends, there’s no shortage of movements in sports that require peak agility.
1. Running – Running is one of the most universal movements in sports and fitness. From taking a jog to stay in shape and support your cardiovascular system to running the bases on the baseball diamond after smashing a double to the left field wall, almost every sport requires the ability to run.
There are a number of aspects that make a good runner, and agility is certainly one of them. Being able to quickly change speed, pace, or direction can make all the difference between an average runner and a truly great runner.
2. Skating – While running is the primary means of navigating athletic boundaries in most sports, there’s one noticeable exception among the four major sports: ice hockey. Skating takes running to an entirely different level. You still need to be able to achieve speed and precision, but balance comes more into play than it does with running due to the slippery surface upon which the game is played. Balance is a pivotal aspect of agility, and that’s why hockey players are among the most agile athletes you’ll find.
And that’s just the forwards and defenseman – imagine how hard it is for a hockey goalie to dart around in the crease, making acrobatic saves and guarding the net on skates. It requires an incredible amount of flexibility, balance, and agility.
3. Jumping – Jumping and sports go hand-in-hand. In baseball, fielders routinely jump in an attempt to snag the bevy of baseballs sprayed from the batter’s box. In football, wide receivers leap to astounding heights to bring down the passes lofted to them from their trusty quarterbacks. In basketball, the jump shot is a staple of the game, not to mention the jumps from defenders attempting to block those shots. The slam dunk – perhaps the most exciting play on the basketball court – would also not be possible without jumping.
There are a few factors in play that make jumping a lot more complex than it seems. Athletes need to exhibit the power necessary to launch themselves off the ground but also the agility to control themselves while in the air and land gracefully. It’s a feat of astonishing agility from start to finish.
4. Throwing – Whether it’s football or baseball, being able to gun the ball at high speeds with precision accuracy is a necessity for success in a number of sports. The motion of throwing entails a unique combination of strength, technique, and accuracy – and if even just one of those factors is lacking, the throw won’t meet expectations.
Throwing isn’t just about the arm, either – a good throw requires an effort from the whole body, from the arm to the body’s core and down through the hips and legs. Being able to plant the body, distribute weight, balance, and throw properly requires a great deal of agility from head to toes.
5. Kicking – It’s not easy to “bend it like Beckham,” as the saying goes, but soccer players certainly make it look easy. They’re able to control a soccer ball as if it was on a string, deftly executing passes and tapping the ball to teammates, deking around opponents, and hammering the ball across the entire field and into the back of the net when an opening presents itself. A lot of that is owed to practice, but agility also plays a part in it. Being able to stay on their feet and control the ball with such accuracy wouldn’t be possible without exhibiting a significant amount of agility.
Soccer isn’t the only sport where foot power comes in to play, though. Think about football, where the kicker is responsible for sailing the ball through the uprights for the extra point or field goal. The timing, balance, and precision involved in that task is a true feat of agility.
6. Punching – Delivering powerful, precision strikes in a boxing or mixed martial arts match is about more than brute strength and force – squaring off one-on-one against an opponent in the ring requires a ton of agility. There’s more to boxing and MMA than just throwing punches. Everyone has heard the famous Muhammed Ali quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” That “floating” that Ali spoke of is pure agility. Being able to smoothly move throughout the rink, dancing away from the opponent while dipping and dodging potential knockout blows, is what makes a boxer great – and boxers owe that ability to agility.
In the gym
Many athletes and fitness enthusiast love working out, but others view it as a tedious chore, despite recognizing and acknowledge its necessity for keeping the body in peak physical shape. That’s why hitting the gym isn’t just about lifting weights or spending time on the treadmill anymore. More and more athletes are turning to innovative and exciting new workouts that require more agility than traditional workouts.
7. Participating in TRX suspension training – As its name implies (TRX stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise), TRX is an all-in-one training technique that targets strength, cardio, flexibility, and more – but the common thread n TRX is that most of its movements call for excellent agility.
TRX suspension training consists of a variety of elastic bands suspended from the ceiling of the gym or workout space. Participants use their own body weight and gravity to complete exercises in a number of different positions, using the bands for support. Being agile and nimble is extremely important in TRX training.
This method was developed by a former Navy SEAL – and if you think agility is important in sports or in the gym, imagine how important it is when you’re in a life or death situation like members of the armed forces can often find themselves in. The point is, you have to be on top of your game to succeed at TRX training, and agility is one of the secrets to success.
8. Practicing yoga – When you think of the gym, you think of pushing yourself to the limits and going all-out. Yoga seems like the exact opposite. It is not a fast-paced workout, and it looks a lot more peaceful than bench pressing or the elliptical. But the vast majority of the movements involved in yoga require immense agility, and the benefits of yoga are immeasurable.
Yoga is a great way to practice and build agility, and the more you do it, the better you’ll get and the more advanced positions you’ll be able to attempt.
9. Spinning – To a gym newcomer, the term spinning might be a little misleading or confusing, but seasoned fitness enthusiasts are familiar with this fun yet effective workout. Simply put, spinning is indoor cycling – and it can be done individually or in a group or class setting. It’s an exercise in endurance and strength, and a great way to practice interval training, but it’s also an activity that calls for a fair amount of agility. It’s not easy to keep up that pedaling motion, and those with agility will find themselves having an easier time in spin class than those without a lot of agility. Of course, like most exercises, the more you do it, the easier it will feel over time, and you’ll be building agility in the process.
10. Working with an agility ladder – As the name implies, using an agility ladder quite obviously requires agility, but in contrast to the name, it's not an actual ladder -- it just looks like one. An agility ladder is actually laid out on the floor of the gym, and it's used to conduct a number of exercises designed to improve your agility, improve your balance, and burn quite a few calories in the process. From lateral stepping to crossovers, there's a wide array of drills to keep you on your toes.
Sure, you need some agility in order to start using an agility ladder, but you don’t have to show up with a boatload of it – you’ll gain more as time goes on. You can always be sure that you’ll leave a workout with a lot more agility and ability than you had at the start.
Agility is both physical and mental -- to truly excel, your mind needs to always be one step ahead of your body. An agility ladder is one of the best ways to sharpen both mental and physical agility.
Improving your agility is easier than you might think
If you've perused this list of the "top 10 movements you need agility for" and you find yourself thinking that you could use some improvement at some of the movements highlighted, you're not alone.
Agility is one of the hardest athletic abilities to perfect, and if agility isn’t one of your strengths, your performance might leave a lot to be desired. Don’t worry, though. If your agility isn’t quite up to par with your peers and you feel like you’re being outperformed on the field or in the gym, there are steps you can take to improve. Agility can be taught and learned.
Regardless of your innate ability, agility is like any other athletic skill. Some of us may have a natural tendency to perform it well, but with the right level of dedication to fitness and training, you can improve your agility and can keep performing at peak levels in any athletic discipline.
If you’re looking for ways to increase your agility or if you’re curious about specific exercises and drills you can use to become more agile, visit Zoid Academy to check out a number of different videos of movements and drills to increase your agility.