Agility is the ability to efficiently move and change the direction and the position of the body quickly in a controlled manner.1 This requires the integration of a combination of skills, such as balance, coordination, reflexes, speed, and strength. While some people are naturally agile and easily move with poise and balance, many others do not possess this ability.
Although traditional playground designs aided in improving children’s agility with swings and merry-go-rounds, many of today’s playground manufacturers are creating innovative structures that incorporate motion when used. They are designed to increase agility, balance, and coordination as well as strength. Children are challenged to climb rock walls and nets, maneuver moving walkways and spinning wheels, and jump on stationary spring apparatus similar to a pogo stick. Very young children have new and exciting playground equipment to stimulate growth in strength and agility. Created with safety in mind, these non-linear playground designs keep children playing continuously from one play feature to the next.2
Agility is a necessary skill in most sports played where quick change of direction is required, such as tennis, football, basketball, and soccer. Coaches, whether professionally or in schools, especially understand the benefits of being agile. There are a lot of training exercises available to improve agility. Some of the exercises involve equipment, such as ladders, rings, jump ropes, hurdles, and balls.3
An agility ladder, or speed ladder, is a flexible ladder made out of plastic or wooden rungs joined together by nylon strapping. It is rolled out on the grassy area and a series of drills involving moving the feet through the ladder spacers in different patterns is used to improve agility.4
Rings are also placed on the ground and often old tires are used in foot drills. Using colored rings adds the mental challenge to the agility exercise by requiring a particular order of stepping in the rings based on color.5
Using jump ropes have multiple benefits besides improving agility. Jumping rope can also improve balance, speed, quickness of hands and feet, and improve aerobic and anaerobic capacity.6 A variety of exercises can be used with jump ropes to increase agility.
Hurdles, including cones, bags, and steps, are used to jump over, run through, and perform different combinations of exercises. Line drills have the participant sprint back and forth between lines and can be added to exercises7 using hurdles. Any activity that involves making multidirectional quick stops and starts will improve agility and balance.8
Ball exercises with a number of participants passing the ball as they move in different directions and in different ways are designed to improve agility. Newly-designed reaction balls are multi-sided rubber balls which have an unpredictable bounce that forces the athlete to make split-second decisions in order to catch them. The random bounce improves overall coordination, agility, reaction time, depth perception, and eye-hand coordination.9
- 1. About.com. < http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/glossary/g/Agility_def.htm > 28 July 2010.
- 2. Xxcent Play! < http://www.xccentplay.com > 28 July 2010.
- 3. SAC Soccer. < http://www.saqsoccer.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=77 > 28 July 2010.
- 4. SpeedLadder. < http://speedladder.org/ > 28 July 2010.
- 5. Op. cit., SAC Soccer.
- 6. Roozen, Mark. “Jumping To Agility.” NSCA’s Performance Training Journal. < http://www.aztecfit.com/News/Jump_Rope_Workout.pdf > 28 July 2010.
- 7. Op. cit., SAC Soccer.
- 8. Scott, Paul. “Completing the Picture: Balance and Agility.” Outside Online. Outside Magazine, Sept. 2002. < http://outside.away.com/outside/bodywork/200209/200209_shape_of_your_life_month5_2.html > 28 July 2010.
- 9. “Reaction Ball for Agility Training.” Power Systems. < http://power-systems.com/p-2359-reaction-ball.aspx > 28 July 2010.