Agility exercises can help you gain better control of your body and its movements, honing your ability to change directions quickly and efficiently, without sacrificing speed or balance.
While these are typically done by athletes to improve their performance, agility exercises can also be performed by nonathletes to enhance their balance or simply to add variety to their normal fitness routine. There are many examples of agility exercises to try, and including several in your regular routine can help you achieve these benefits.
Ladder Agility Exercises
One way to boost your agility is with a ladder formation, which you can purchase as a piece of exercise equipment or create your own with tape or spray paint. If you make the ladder yourself, space the "rungs" 1 to 2 feet apart so you can easily step in and out of them. Try a lateral shuffle on your ladder by standing sideways in a square at one end of the ladder.
Get into athletic stance by bending your knees slightly; then quickly shuffle along the length of the ladder, moving from square to square. Once you reach the end, shuffle back to the starting position. This type of lateral movement gets your body moving in a different way, and the rapid change of direction when you reach the end of the lateral also works to enhance agility.
Try Cone Drills
Cones are a versatile piece of equipment that can be set up in a variety of formations for agility exercises. With several cones set up in two rows, you can run zigzag drills to target agility. Position the cones about 2 feet from each other; then try a forward zigzag by running in and out in a zigzag pattern along one row of cones.
Try the same exercise in reverse for a backward zigzag, or use both rows of cones for a sideways zigzag. These movements all work on your speed, quick stops and rapid directional changes.
Do Partner Shuffles
You'll need a workout buddy for this agility exercise, but the benefit is that you won't be able to anticipate which direction you'll be moving or when, which forces you to react even faster. In a partner shuffle, your partner calls the shots, telling you which direction to move — left, right, forward or back.
Assume athletic stance while you wait for your partner to tell you which direction to begin with. Once he does, shuffle rapidly that way, listening for your next cue. Try not to cross your feet while you shuffle, and respond as quickly as possible to his direction.
Add Backpedal Sprints
Backpedal sprints should be done by people who already have some agility training, as they require a bit more skill. To do them, determine a start and finish line that are several paces apart, or set up cones to indicate the lines. From the starting line, sprint forward to the finish line, stopping abruptly and then backpedaling quickly back to the starting line.
Maintain full speed for the duration of the exercise, with explosive starts and fast stops. Backpedal sprints can also be made more challenging with a long resistance band, which you can attach to yourself with a belt. Secure the other end to a fixed object to create resistance during the sprint portion of the exercise.