Strength, height and weight are extremely important for sports, but none of these is as important as speed and agility. You need lots of speed if you want to score at basketball, or run the bases in baseball. So what is speed? Speed combines coordination and power.
The more power you have to move yourself forward, the faster you will go. While everyone moves at their own speed, there are ways for you to improve it, which will be discussed below. Exercises, safety tips, and more will be shown below.
How to Increase Speed and Agility
You can increase your speed by doing different exercises, sprinting or using programs such as pylometrics. Before you begin a workout to increase your speed, however, you need to stretch your legs. Not only will you get the most out of your workout, but it will help to prevent injury.
Stretch: Standing Quadriceps
Standing straight, you need to grab onto something that doesn’t move, such as the wall, to keep your balance. Tightly grasp your right ankle from behind using your right hand. Pulling the ankle toward your buttocks, hold it for ten seconds. Look out for your knee. You need to make sure it’s perpendicular with the floor. After this, do the same stretch with your right leg.
Stretch: Standing Hamstring
Bend over while straightening your knees. Try touching or grabbing your feet, or just reach down as far as possible if you can’t. Hold this for ten seconds. Do not move up and down or you may get injured. Your spine’s position is irrelevant.
These use sudden bursts of movements that are typically repetitive. These develop muscular strength so that you can gather a large amount of force easily. A few plyometrics are listed below.
If you know a place that has hurdles, you can do this. Set about 7-10 hurdles, each about 2-3 feet apart from one another. You can adjust their height, and they should be anywhere from 1-3 feet depending on how high you can jump.
After everything is set up, jump forward and over the hurdles, all while keeping your feet close. Use your energy from your legs to propel yourself up, using your hips and arms to go higher. Straighten your body as much as possible. Go to the next hurdle shortly after, making your intensity has high as you can. Quality beats quantity in this case.
Get yourself a box anywhere from 1-3 feet high, and make sure it’s steady to use. Chairs or benches can be used as alternatives. Anyway, stand on top of your box or chair and move your toes close to its edge. Jump as high as you can while stepping down from the box. Use your legs kind of like springs to propel yourself forward. It’s an easy exercise, but effective in so many ways.
Grab about 5-8 boxes about the same height as those from the previous exercise. Set them up about two feet apart from one another.
Place your hands on the back of your head and then bend your knees as if you’re squatting. This gives you enough power for the jump. Make sure your feet are separated about a shoulder width apart. Jump on the box and land on your feet softly, making sure your entire feet make it on there. While squatting, jump off of your box and then repeat for the other boxes.
Calf Burn Outs
This exercise allows you to add weights to it. If you add weights, your exercise will be shorter and more difficult, but can benefit you more. To add weights, grab a pair of dumbbells and hang them outside your hips.
Jump as high as you can while not bending your hips or knees. Think of it like a calf raise where you’re jumping in the air. Do as many as possible without rest. To avoid injury, make sure you’re wearing good shoes to do this.
3 sets of hurdle hopping involving 7-10 hurdles. Rest for 1-2 minutes.
3 sets of depth jumps at 5-10 jumps, resting for a couple of minutes.
3 sets of box jumps at 5-10 jumps, resting for 1-2 minutes.
As many calf burn outs as possible.
Safety Tips: Age
If you’re under 18, you should begin with low weights with high repetitions until you’re about 18. Your body is still developing, after all, and you don’t want to push yourself to do too much,
The following are some safety tips about plyometrics:
Safety Tips: Experience
You need to be experienced in weightlifting if you want to perform plyometrics, or you’ll probably fail. A good rule of thumb is to have upper and lower body strength, and be able to bench press your weight, squatting about one and a half times your weight. If you can do that, you can start plyometrics.
Safety Tips: Shoes
As established, you should have some decent shoes before starting. Basketball or running shoes should work, preferably the former.
Safety Tips: Technique
If you have a friend who’s experienced in plyometrics, this can be easy. They’ll be your backseat driver, pointing out your form and telling you how to fix it. If you use poor technique, you can have serious injuries.
Safety Tips: Limits
Gradually build yourself up. Don’t lift something that you can’t lift just because the meatheads are doing so. They had to start off small as well. Remember that.
Alternatives to Plymoetrics
Running up stairs can help improve your speed and agility. These exercises don’t involve long stair running, but instead a few short bursts with long periods of rest. This improves your speed by growing the fast-twitch fibers in addition to enhancing cardio.
While running up and down the stairs, stay on the balls of your feet instead of your toes, jumping upwards onto the next stair. See if you can jump three stairs at a time. Keep your head up so you can check for safety concerns, and don’t look down. Rest for a couple minutes.
A childhood favorite. However, these are much more intense. They’re short bursts that are about 30 seconds long. Jump by contracting your calf muscles only. It’s the same lines as the calf burn out exercises, but you’re not jumping as high because that would allow for relaxation. This is on purpose a high intensity workout, so you won’t last more than 30 seconds.
Tips for Above Exercises
Push using the balls of your feet, not your toes, as they have no power of stability. The only exception is the jump rope.
Every repetition should have the perfect form. You won’t get the maximum benefits if your workout has poor form, and you may become injured. Always have someone help you out when you’re beginning.
And of course, always remember to know your limits.
These workouts can cost you a lot of energy, and make you feel tired all day. Even worse, it can make you hurt in the morning. If you’re taking the proper nutrients, however, these effects can be minimal. However if you use a supplement it can improve your recovery time and give your body the energy and nutrients back.
Everyone knows you need protein to make your muscles grow strong, but athletes use it to speed their body recovery. Since you’re not building large muscles, take about a gram per body weight you have. You can find protein in meats such as steak, chicken, pork, or fish, but if you don’t have enough or are a vegetarian, there are supplements that can help you out.
Science confirms it: creatine enhances your bursts of energy when you’re working out. While optional, it does have many benefits. Look for high-quality creatine supplements and add them to your diet if you can.
Sports That Require Speed and Agility
As mentioned before, sports require speed and agility if you want to be good at them. In fact, they’re two of the main components. While not all sports and positions in said sport require speed, there are many that will put you at a disadvantage if your speed isn’t up to snuff.
This is a great example. You see, basketball is a game that requires you to be running at all times. There are no periods of rest during the game. You need to always be running and chasing after that ball. If you’re in defense and the person outruns you, you may get kicked out of the team, so speed is ideal. Except for the center players, you need to always be on your toes. This also depends on if you’re on the offensive side or defensive.
Offensive side is all about the reaction time. You need to go for the score once you see an opening, and that requires agility. These activities always need a great amount of speed so you can outrun your defender and make it to the goal. If you’re slow, your defender can alter your shot or block it altogether. By being fast, you’re intimidating, and that is the goal of basketball. By being fast, you’ll be the player who no one will be able to defend, and this will allow you to be the best player around.
This also requires quick reaction time. You move at a speed that is even greater than the offensive side. With defensive, you have to keep up with the person you’re defending. You can’t choose your own pace and plan out your next move. You need to make sure you can react to the person you’re defending when it comes to their every move. They can fake you out and use other types of strategies so that you fail. Even if you do fail, you have to be fast so you can jump back into defense. If you’re defending your own player, it’s still difficult. If your teammate loses their defense, you need to jump in so you can carry the weight. You need to defend them so no one else can one-up them, and lead the player to victory. All this requires a sudden burst of energy, and if you don’t have that, you should either be playing center or not playing at all.
Also known as American Football to those outside the US. Football requires its players to move fast, especially if you’re playing as running back. Besides lots of running, you need to evade defenders trying to tackle you, so it requires you to be fast on your feet. If defenders are ahead, you need the agility to run past them as well.
With most plays, they last about seven seconds. This seems short, but those seven seconds will take everything out of you, requiring speed from all players. You need to have as much speed as possible if you want to succeed at this game, no matter what position you’re in.
Perhaps the most obvious out of all these things. This sport is a running race, so of course you need lots of speed and agility if you want to make it to the finish line before everyone else. No matter how long your dash is, you need that explosive power of speed at the beginning, middle, and end of your race if you want to outrun the competition.
Sports That Don’t Require Lots of Speed and Agility
If you’re still not fast enough, there are a few sports you can try. Soccer (known as football outside the US,) is a good example. You do run, but it’s at a slower and more constant speed, with the occasional fast break mixed in. Weightlifting is another example, as you need to lift, not run. Archery just involves a steady shot, not your feet.
Now that you know these exercises, you can get on them. But you need to remember that they don’t work instantly. If you want to be the best, you need to make sure that you constantly practices and develop your speed. Don’t rush into things, or you’ll get discouraged when you haven’t seen improvement, or worse, you’ll be injured and this will only slow you down. With a proper diet and proper progress that involves you starting off small and working up, you’ll see results in no time at all.