If you want to stand out and take your game to the next level, you have to be faster, stronger and more agile than your competition. Hiring a private coach to help you improve your speed & agility performance is a great step towards reaching your goals, but it will take more than time with a coach to get you there. When it comes to the extra work you do on your own time, it can be intimidating to figure out what gear to buy and how to use it. To help with that, here is a list of our top-five pieces of equipment to use in speed & agility training.
Most important equipment used in speed and agility training
1. Jump Rope
An oldie but a goodie—the jump rope is a proven tool for agility, quickness, coordination and overall fitness. While simply jumping rope in intervals of a few minutes at a time will get you results, there are a ton of variations you can try to challenge yourself further. Not only does jumping rope improve fitness, it also also strengthens your feet and ankles, which will help with injury prevention.
A jump rope is one of the least expensive and transportable pieces of training equipment that you’ll find. They can be used just about anywhere. When it comes to jump ropes, you don’t need to get fancy to create an effective workout. For a basic jump rope, we recommend the BenRan Jump Rope. For just $10 you’ll get a quality rope with comfortable handles that you can adjust to your height. This rope is meant to withstand heavy duty training, so you don’t need to worry about wearing it out too soon.
2. Medicine Ball
Medicine balls are an under-utilized tool for speed and agility training, as athletes often limit their versatility to upper body and core conditioning. However, medicine ball training can help to increase your acceleration and help with your first-step and burst.
To work on acceleration, you can get into an athletic stance, and throw a medicine ball as you transition into a sprint. This motion will help you get to the right angle for acceleration, while forcing you to use both legs to drive into the sprint. There are many other effective acceleration tool options—such as sprint chutes and sleds—but for simplicity and versatility, we rank medicine balls higher than those options.
When it comes to Medicine Balls, you want to buy a durable product. Some brands can run a little pricey, but we’ve found that the J/Fit Soft Medicine Ball is a great, moderately-priced option. The heavy-duty stitching creates durability and allows for the ball to keep its shape. With options up to 30 lbs., you’ll be able to create a variety of workouts.
If you want to add plyometrics to your speed and agility training—you should—it’s hard to find a better tool than hurdles. When used correctly, they can increase explosiveness, speed, and coordination tremendously.
The primary drawback of using hurdles is that it’s easy for athletes to be sloppy in their movements. Ignoring small details leads to ineffective training and an increased risk of injury. The best way to avoid forming bad habits in training is to emphasize good form when using a new tool. Once you get the hang of using them correctly, you can increase the speed, height of the hurdles, and complexity of your drills to intensify training.
We recommend SKLZ 6x Hurdles. These hurdles are lightweight and durable, and feature bounce-back construction for when athletes do inevitably knock into them during training. They are able to be used on all surfaces, and while they are a tad pricey—$50 for a six-pack—these hurdles are designed to hold up over time.
Using ladders for speed and agility training has been a longtime staple for coaches. They are effective, versatile, and fun to work with. You can create a variety of drills that improve footwork, speed, coordination and a number of other agility components. Further, a commonly overlooked benefit of ladder drills is that they require athletes to work on connecting their mind to their body. Ladder drills have varying degrees of complexity, and the more complex they get, the more an athlete is required to think on their feet (pun intended) in order to perform the drill correctly.
The best selling agility ladder on Amazon, the Yes4All Speed Agility Ladder, is a good choice for anyone looking to add this tool to their training arsenal. With 8, 12, and 20-rung options, you’ll be able to find a size that’s right for your training needs. Each ladder comes with adjustable rungs that can go up to 15 inches so you can create a variety of drills.
(Bonus: Want to add a little more difficulty to your ladder training? Check out the SKLZ Elevation Ladder, which has the option to change the flat rungs into four-inch hurdles, guaranteed to take your speed training up a notch!)
While these may seem too basic to be number one on our list, the simplicity of agility cones is what makes them so great. They’re small, lightweight, versatile pieces of equipment that give you the ability to perform countless training exercises. They also serve as a great complement to the other pieces of equipment you use.
With cones, you can create drills that focus on quickness, agility, change of direction, balance, acceleration, deceleration, reaction time and more. Agility cones are easy to bring with you, easy to set up and break down, and easy to incorporate into sport-specific training with other equipment (i.e. weaving in between cones while dribbling a soccer ball). As beneficial as they can be in training, they are also a simple tool to incorporate into your warm-up routine on game day.
We particularly like the SKLZ Agility Cones Set because they’re made from a durable plastic, come with a convenient carrying rack, and are multi-colored. The mid-tier pricing for cones is a reasonable investment for such a foundational piece of training equipment.
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