Speed, agility, and quickness drills are often only associated with training athletes. However, developing these skills is important for all levels of fitness. In this article, we will focus specifically on quickness—what it is, why it is beneficial, and a few exercises to help your clients improve their quickness.
All three concepts are related, but they each refer to different skills. Generally speaking, speed is moving as fast as possible, in a straight line, from point A to point B. Agility is the ability to change directions quickly and efficiently. And, quickness is associated with fast reaction time. The ability to start, stop, speed up slow down and change direction is incredibly important for all athletes. But those skills are valuable for the average client as well.
Proper quickness training drills help improve reaction time, performance, and more:
One of the most important parts of sport is being able to assess a situation and respond appropriately within a short amount of time. But, again, the importance of reaction time isn't specific to just sport. So, reaction training is valuable for not only that athlete who needs to quickly change direction and then jump in the air to intercept a pass but also for the average daily jogger who needs to quickly hop out of the way of an oncoming biker or a mom playing a game of tag with her child.
When proper motor skills are the focus and then those movements are sped up to game speed, an athlete develops quickness skills vital to success. An athlete with good body control, proper technique, and quick assessments and execution skills has a huge athletic advantage over a slower opponent.
Quickness drills typically engage more muscles which in turn can burn more calories and support weight loss. Additionally, quickness drills can be combined to create high-intensity interval training, which has shown to be effective in burning lots of calories in a short amount of time.
Quickness drills are a challenge and create variety within a training program. Learning new skills and engaging new muscles helps keep clients motivated and engaged in their workout. Engagement is a key factor in helping clients stay consistent and committed to their workouts which ultimately increases their chances of success.
There are many different types of ball drills, cone drills, and plyometrics that help develop quickness. Here are a few of our favorites.
Place two markers 10-15 feet apart on the ground. Have your client start in the middle of the markers while facing you several feet away. Bounce or throw the ball to one side and have your client shuffle in a lateral movement to catch the ball. As your client's reaction time improves, the marker distance can be increased, the speed of the ball can be increased, or a reaction ball can be used (if bouncing the ball on the ground).
Set up markers set up on the ground in the shape of a "T" with each marker 15 feet apart. Your client will start on the marker that is the bottom of the T. On your command, your client will straight sprint towards the top of the T and, at your verbal cue of "left" or "right," change direction towards the appropriate left or right marker. This drill can be visual instead of an audible reaction. Instead of saying "left" or "right," use your hands to point to the "left" or "right" as soon as your client reaches the top of the T. In both scenarios, it is important the cue is made just before the top of the T so your client needs to make a quick decision and change direction.
Stand facing your client about 15 feet apart. Randomly drop a bouncy ball. Your client will quickly move towards the ball once it drops and try to catch it before it bounces on the ground a second time!
Position two markers 20-30 feet apart. Have your client stand in the middle of the two markers and face you about 10 feet away. Shuffle/move quickly and randomly between the two cones with your client mimicking the movements.
Reaction balls are a great way for clients to practice quickness and reaction on their own or with a personal trainer. Reaction balls have an irregular shape so when they hit the ground or wall they bounce in random directions. There are a few different ways to use the reaction ball in an exercise. One of the most basic drills is a ball drop. Your client will hold the ball out in front of their body while in an athletic stance. They will drop the ball and react quickly to retrieve it after the first bounce.
Because of the explosive nature of many quickness drills, there are a few things to remember to keep your clients safe and to help support effective movement:
Ensure your client warms up properly before the drill.
Proper movement patterns are essential. Work on proper movement and then speed it up.
Always start in an athletic stance position. Reaction time is delayed if the client has to get into an athletic position and then react.
Consistency and repetition are important in developing quickness.
The ability to assess a situation and react quickly is essential for both athletes and the average client. There are many drills that can help clients train their reaction time and improve their quickness. This can help result in improved reaction time, improved performance, and even support weight loss.
Would you like to increase your knowledge as a personal trainer? Check out ISSA's Strength and Conditioning certification so you can help both your athletes and regular clients to improve strength, speed, agility, and coordination.