Balance, strength, speed, body control and change of direction. Agility is a crucial skill in the majority of sports and with a great deal of practice everyone is capable of being agile. Although speed and power can benefit agility, the main improvements in performance come from learning the skill of moving limbs.
With good agility a runner can float and not flail through a course. This is especially true in trail running where you are faced with rocky, root-filled, twisty and technical sections. A good runner can gracefully dance through these. She floats when others trample, she clears obstacles when they get tangled up, she flies down hills when they inch down. This runner is agile.
Some of the best downhill trail runners I have seen as a coach come from field sports such as soccer, football or basketball. This is because they spent so many years not only training their running but also their agility. So when they transitioned from youth, collegiate, or pro sports to running they arrive with great agility and an understanding of why they need to continue to train to stay agile.
Being more agile not only will make you a faster, more rounded runner it will also help with injury prevention. Limit ankle twists, falls, stubbed toes and unnecessary pressure on joints. At Performance Strength Lab we help develop injury-proof bodies in the gym by incorporating single leg training such as lateral step-ups, walking lunges and single leg deadlifts. We also include agility plyometric drill including skaters, lateral bounds, single leg jumps, step-up push offs and banded side shuffles.
This focused training we do benefits all our athletes including our runners in improving balance, strength, speed, body control and change of direction so they can enjoy running more and quickly get through technical sections of running courses with grace and fluidity of movement.
How can you improve your agility?
Aim to develop lateral and linear mechanics. That means movements forward, side to side, upward, landing, accelerating and decelerating.
Use your arms. Arms and legs are directed by the brain to work at the same frequency. So training effective arm movements is crucial.
Both balance and core strength are essential for agility.
Technique can aid speed for example, driving the knee drive forward leads to an effective angle at the ankle and appropriate foot placement.
Use some of the exercises I have listed in this article. Skaters, Single Leg Jumps, Banded Side Shuffles, Step-Up Push Offs. Do 10 reps of each rest 1 min 3-5x. These can be incorporated in your training 2-3 times a week.
Need additional help? Sign up for our P³ Strong Runners Club today https://www.performancestrengthlab.com/run-club