Q: Alex, What is your opinion on speed and agility training in-season?
Frank, I want to answer speed and agility separately. First, letʼs talk in-season speed training. For the case of speed training in-season, it depends on two factors: how well youʼre recovering and what level youʼre playing at (pro ball, high-school, middle-school). For me, playing pro ball, I would never do speed training in-season because Iʼm sprinting every night in games. Any extra speed work would decrease my on-field performance. The college, high school, and middle-school level are different though. At this level, you are only playing two to three times a week so there is opportunity to get a speed day in. You have to be careful though and make sure your speed session is spread out from your games because we donʼt want to take anything away from our games.
For example, letʼs say you have games Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. This is how I would add my speed session into the week:
Monday: Day 1 Full Body In-Season Lift Tuesday: Off
Thursday: Speed Session
Friday: Off or Day 2 In-Season Lift
Sunday: Game – After Game In-Season Lift Day 2 or 3
This is a sample week just to show you how you can plan your speed session into your week. You have to go off your body FIRST, and you also have to be conscious that being recharged and strong on game day is the number one goal.
Now lets talk agility. The best way to build agility is by reacting to a visual or vocal stimulus/cue and building strength in your lower body isometrically. For years, I did all the cone “agility” drills and speed ladders, but NEVER saw my on-field agility improve. When you build lower body strength isometrically and incorporate visual stimuli where you have to react to something, then youʼre building some SERIOUS agility! These two exercises below are two ways you can use vocal and visual cues to improve athletes agility.
Reactive Bulgarian Split Squats w/Vocal Cue
As you can see my athlete is reacting to a vocal stimulus, and exploding up.
Reactive Pushup Sprints w/Visual Cue
In this video you can see I am dropping a ball in front of the athlete and he is reacting to it, making a cut, and getting into his sprint. I also could have stood behind him and threw the ball over his shoulder and had him start his sprint when he saw the ball.
Now to answer your question regarding in-season agility: I would do agility in-season if it were incorporated into a speed day. For example, if youʼre doing pushup starts have your partner drop a ball in front of you so you can react, like the above video. Otherwise, thereʼs no need to incorporate agility in-season. Youʼre playing games, youʼre reacting to the ball hitting off the bat, youʼre making cuts, and thatʼs your agility. You build up agility the more you play!