In the first two posts on this topic I have shown you predictive agility drills.  These are great for the beginning phases of training and early pre-season conditioning.  Once athletes understand how to move properly, it is time to turn your attention to reactive agility as this more appropriately mirrors sport.

There are countless games and drills you can use with your athletes.  I have certain “go to” drills if you will but am always looking for new ones or more importantly the best ones for each athlete or group of athletes I am working with.

Today I included some video taken from a field hockey speed clinic I held last month.  A primary goal was to show the team a bevy of drills they could use to improve speed, agility and quickness.   Another important goal was to make the hard work seem FUN.  

You see I was an athlete not so long ago and I know athletes really don’t get very excited about conditioning because that usually involves running, sweat and fatigue, right?  So, anytime you can introduce games and competition to get maximal effort from your players or clients, it becomes a win-win for all involved.

In the video clip today, you will see a friendly game of partner tag.  Is this ingenious?  Absolutely not.  But, I strategically placed cones in a circle and then asked about 12 players to move within the circle trying not to get caught.  Group one worked for 30 seconds while group two rested and then we switched.

So, the pairs designated an initial “it” person and when the whistle blew the offensive player tried to evade while the defense pursued.  This timed drill accomplishes all of the following great things:

·         Unpredictable movement

·         Variable speed

·         Variable cutting cutting angles

·         Acceleration and deceleration

·         Multiple bodies in the same space (very game like)

·         Great anaerobic conditioning

Some may say there is a greater risk of injury by confining the athletes.  I simply respond by saying the playing field has boundaries and in sport there will be collision at times as well as the very real need to maneuver tightly and quickly around people to avoid collisions and score.  By the way, not one person collided in our drill.  Safety or the lack thereof with tag comes down to preparation and proper instruction prior to starting.

Leading up to partner tag, I always initiate more basic partner mirror drills for linear FW/BW running, shuffles and combinations in a 4 cone pattern (smaller area with only two at a time).  These simpler condensed drills lay the foundation for an all out reactive game of tag.

The take home message is that reactive agility must be a progressive part of your field or court training to help refine proper movement patterns, reduce injury risk and maximize athletic performance.  In my final post, I will reveal an even more specific reactive agility drill with an Olympic level fencer I am training for the 2012 games.