Athletes are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever, but what are you doing to improve your athletic agility?
As athletes continue to develop and adapt to meet the demands of their respective sports, one area becoming increasingly more important is agility training. Why? Because agility drills help make athletes quicker and more efficient when they change directions in transition. That’s why the goal of these drills is to perform a movement (i.e. a cone drill, figure 8’s, etc.) as fast, and as efficiently, as possible. For no matter what sport you’re playing, or what agility drill you’re performing, every one of them requires planting and cutting. This article discusses the proper mechanics of planting and cutting, while introducing agility drills that will help you move as an athlete.
1. Jog to Plant
The first step in this series is one that looks easy, but requires patience to master. Start off with two lines that are 5 yards apart. Begin at line 1 and walk to line 2. As you approach line 2, lower your hips and plant your right foot on the line. Your shoulder should be slightly over your knee and your knee should be slightly over your toe on your plant leg side. Try to make sure that your trail leg is in a position where the front of your foot is even with the heel of your plant foot. I know that sounds complicated, but trust me, once you do it, you’ll realize it’s not very difficult. Check the video below should you need a visual.
Once in that plant position, you should be able to stick, and hold, that position. From this first step simply return to line 1 by backpedaling out of the plant position. Perform this drill on both legs until both legs are able to plant, stick, and hold, that plant position. As you become more efficient in the plant, increase the speed by which you run from line 1 to line 2. Just know that the faster you go, the more difficult it will be to maintain the correct form and technique.
2. Jog to Plant and Run
Once you’ve mastered the initial plant, it’s time to cut off that plant. This is where you’ll really improve your athleticism. Jog from line 1 to line 2 again and plant on your right foot. Now without moving your plant foot, push off towards the left and run straight down the line. I repeat though, don’t move your plant foot when you cut to run because that’s called stepping in the bucket. Steeping in the bucket is a wasted step which slows you down and makes you less efficient. Perform the drill on both legs until you’re efficient on each leg, and then continue to increase your speed from line 1 to line 2.
3. Jog to Plant and Open
This step is performed similarly to the steps above, except with a slightly different end result. Jog from line 1 to line 2 and plant on your right foot. Once you’ve stuck your plant, push off of your right foot, open up your left hip and run back at a 45 degree angle. Whatever you do, please, DON’T STEP IN THE BUCKET. Perform the drill on both legs and continue to challenge yourself by increasing your speed from line 1 to line 2.
4. Jog to Open On Line to Run
This step requires a different kind of plant than the previous three. For this drill I want you to open up your left hip on line 2. As you lower your hips and open up, your right leg and hip will come around and square up on the line. Line 2 should be between your right and left foot at this point and you should be in a bent knee position with your hips low and ready to explode out. From there run back to line 1 and push off your left foot, which will be the foot closest to line 1. You’ll actually crossover your body as you return to a sprint. Again, this may sound complicated, but when you actually perform the movement (or watch the video) you won’t find it difficult. Perform the drill on both sides and continue to challenge yourself by increasing your speed from line 1 to line 2.
Now that you’ve learned the proper mechanics of planting and cutting, go out and get after them. Become efficient in these simple drills and set yourself up for success on the field. Once you’ve mastered them you’ll be ready for a wide variety of agility drills. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of more agility drills coming your way soon enough. Good luck.
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