If I asked you if you think agility is related to speed in a straight line and jumping ability, what would you say? The answer is surprisingly, not much. Agility stands somewhat alone as an athletic ability. In a study conducted using male physical education students, researchers compared agility performance not only to jumping ability but also to lower body strength using various types of squats (Marcovic, 2007). The results bola tangkas online of this study suggest that most measures of strength and power are poor predictors of agility in physically active men. In another study looking for relationships between agility and other factors such as strength and power, semi-professional male Ausralian Rules football players were tested for 1-RM strength, power in a hang clean exercise, jumping, sprinting and agility performance (Hori, 2008). The researcher used the top performers in the hang clean to differentiate two groups. The hang-clean performance is considered a good indicator of lower-body power specific to jumping. The top performers in the hang-clean exercise showed greater maximal strength, greater performance of jumping, and faster sprint times. However, there was no significant difference between top performers and bottom performers of the hang-clean with agility performance. The investigator concluded that this occurred possibly because of important contributing factors to agility other than strength and power.
What are these contributing factors? Agility comes down to being able to stop your speed going in one direction horizontally and then immediately being able to go the other way. In other words, putting on the brakes. This involves a lot of eccentric strength, or strength during the stretch phase of muscle contraction. When making a cut or a plant, whichever you want to call it, your muscles will be put on a stretch and then they will stop their stretch for a brief moment before contracting and producing force for you to move a different direction. The less they have to stretch and the quicker they can contract and get you going the other way (also related to positioning which I’ll get to in the near future) the better. Vertical jumping, sprinting, and the hang clean all involve more power of the hips and do not call for as much eccentric strength of the total leg.
So is speed related at all? While it doesn’t hurt to be fast since after the change of directions portion of the movement you must accelerate or run to the next action, the key to successful agility performance and true soccer speed is that ability to cut on a dime as if you have springs for legs IN RESPONSE TO EXTERNAL STIMULUS. I put that part in caps because you need to be able to recognize in advance what action to take. Call it soccer specific anticipation.
What does this mean for you, the soccer player? Like I said above, each sport has specific demands for changing directions and it all has to do with recognition from the eyes to the brain to the body. It is possible that if an athlete already has a lot of experience with changing directions, adding strength and power in the vertical plane can add to agility performance. If an athlete does not have a lot of experience playing soccer at a high level and changing directions at high speeds, the ability to produce high levels of vertical force may not transfer to soccer agility performance very well. Some of the best ways to improve soccer agility are as follows: -Run different patterns at full speed and get used to cutting hard (extra resistance can be used in the form of a weighted vest or a band to create an overspeed effect where someone pulls you even faster into the plant phase) -Multi-directional plyometrics- lateral bounds, hops, using boxes to jump on or over, dot drills (these can be loaded as well with a weighted vest, holding a medicine ball, holding light dumbells) -1 v 1 games with and without the ball at high speeds (mirror drills, tag games, follow the leader who runs in a spontaneous pattern around cones, 1 v1 penetration, 1v 1 to goal games, etc.) -play soccer at high speeds with emphasis on agility (this will generally involve playing small sided games at a high speed with rest between plays) Other than that it takes a mental decision to say ” I am going to stay with everyone on every play”. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to drop me a line.