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IFAC Reflections Part 2
January 22, 2019
A review of Jerome Simian’s workshops on physical preparation for sport. I had to choose between different “strands” of coaching topics at the IFAC conference in Loughborough. A difficult choice, not wanting to miss out on some excellent speakers. I chose to attend Simian’s because of a quote I heard on the HMMR podcast: “I […]

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4 steps to get more agile in pre-season.

Its better to run round people than through them.

rugby agilityThe ability to run “through spaces not faces” is very important in most field/court sports. You want to be agile enough to:

  • Avoid being tackled
  • Be able to get into position to stop your opponent
  • Get to the ball.

Is your pre-season agility training helping you achieve this?

Do you have a series of ladders and cones laid out and run around them?

football agilityOr, are you really advanced and have a slalom series of poles laid out? Does that get players more agile, or just more tired?

Small sided games are very popular, and one coach said to me “Gareth Edwards never needed coaching”. Nope, but he grew up in an age when kids played British Bulldog and kick the can, and had proper PE lessons where they had to get hot and sweaty.

Nowadays, your team is made up of desk jockeys or couch potatoes, so the basics have to be built in and reinforced whatever your level.

Agility training should be more than Organised Despair. It requires coaching, progression, variety and application.

A 4 Step Approach to Getting More Agile

Here is our approach to getting players more agile.

how to get more agile

1 Body Control. This is the foundation where the importance of strength and balance are emphasised. This allows better force reduction, force stabilisation and then force production (more details here).

single leg squatThe use of Single Leg Squats, multi directional lunges, multi directional hop and holds are essential. For upper body the use of lawnmowers, sprawls and sit throughs are coached.

These then become part of the Team’s warm up drills.

(Get your Free 5 day agility training programme here)

2 Planned Movements. Turn and Run, Rolling  and Crawling mechanics. Coach the push off 2 feet in different directions: forward, side and backwards. The open step and crossover step are both practiced.

pre-season agility

Practice getting up off the floor

Agility is not just important when standing up. A lot of time is spent in getting up and down off the floor in sport. Players need to be taught how to land safely, and then get back up quickly.

Forward rolls, sideways rolls, and backward rolls are all important parts of this. Bear crawls are useful to help teach sprint mechanics from the floor and short distance acceleration. These can then be combined to form a warm up sequence like this video.

This is then rehearsed in drills like the Oregon Sway Drill and Foot Dot Drill. 

3 Reactive Drills. Once your players have practiced their mechanics, and learnt how to use them in sequence, you can start getting them to react to different stimuli. 

football agilityThis puts a time pressure into place and you can see how robust the players’ techniques are. The cues can be:

  • Visual (partner or coach moving, ball moving)
  • Auditory (left, right, go, or sound of ball being kicked)
  • Kinesthetic (partner push, feel of ball on feet)

4 Random and Chaotic Games and skills drills. Now is the chance to put the different movements into place. For example, having your players work on a 2vs 1 drill in a narrow linear channel would follow on from the Foot Dot Drill.

pre-season agility for football

Excelsior athlete Dan James

Having them work on a 3 vs 2 in a wide lateral channel would follow on from the Oregon Sway Drill.

This gives the players the chance to rehearse in a “limited open game“. There are specific rules and boundaries, but decisions have to be made and reactions and agility are tested.

You can do all 4 of this sequence in each session: If you spend 5 minutes on each part, then you are progressing through the learning process. After 20 minutes your players will be warmed up, be moving better, and have had to practice making decisions.

How to Test Pre-Season Agility

Agility is the ability to change direction at pace in response to a stimulus. Unfortunately , most agility testing just measures the ability to change direction at pace, without an appropriate stimulus.

As you may have gathered from our previous posts on Pre-season training, we are not fans of testing for testing sake. If you do test agility, be aware that you are measuring your players ability to accelerate, brake and change direction. 

Do not use the test as a selection process as decision making is not measured.

The 3 cone L weave is an easily administered agility test, that measures change of direction off both feet in a speed cut and a power cut.

3 cone L weave

Next week, we will look at getting your team faster in Pre-season.

If you want to get more agile, then why not join our Sports Training System


  1. […] spent some time going through agility progressions and the 7 steps to running faster with the […]

  2. […] every action he was doing. That is something I learnt from Steve Morris and I incorporate into the agility work I do with every […]

  3. […] However due to it being such a small court having the ability to move laterally is also very important especially in regards to limiting injury. Therefore in terms of training the athlete can be doing lateral squats and two-foot lateral base, where the athlete moves side to side until a partner shouts stop (more agility work here) […]

  4. […] exercises and barbell exercises (especially squats and deadlifts). We moved outside to do agility training (hip projection being key) and finally speed and […]

  5. […] is the first step of our 4 step progression to improving […]

  6. […] right are the athletes setting up the Sway Drill one of the agility progressions they worked […]

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Client Testimonials

Dan James – Paralympian
During the build up to the Beijing Paralympics I was fortunate to be able to train with Excelsior. During this time James delivered a specific eleven month training block to me starting from base fitness up to more complex circuits and exercises. James would always take part in our sessions and this really helped motivate me, as we would push each other to achieve during the sessions. James was flexible around my shift work and would always answer any questions I had, however daft they sounded!

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Athletic Development Coach – WILLAND
20 Feb 2019

Athletic Development Coach Venue: WILLAND Date: Wednesday 20th February. Time 0900-1630. Booking deadline Friday 8 February Is the ‘Athletic Development Coach’ course for me? This particular course is for our junior members to attend. If you are interested in attending please contact Carly. What will I learn? Course Goals and Objectives Candidates will be expected […]