Agility is defined as the ability to change direction at speed. The agility level of a person or athlete will determine how much speed, balance and power is lost when changing direction. Agility is a fitness component that is paramount to most athletes in any sport where change of direction is important. Agility is another fitness component where the ability of the athlete is heavily reliant on the training of many other of the fitness components. Speed, power and balance are all integral to an athlete’s agility.
Factors affecting agility vary from physiological issues like fatigue to psychological factors such as decision making. The physiological factors such as fatigue can influence the explosive movements of the athletes agility. The idea of a successful agile movement is to change direction at speed, this is an explosive burst of anaerobic energy. If an athlete is fatigued, for example in the last quarter of a football match, the athlete will not be able to change direction with as much speed and energy as they would have in the first quarter because their muscles are fatigued. The psychological factor in question is the ability to make decisions specific to sport. It is very psychological to be able to react to a decision that the brain makes then for that signal to reach the muscles. Specifically to agility, the decision made by the brain can have a profound affect in the way the body reacts and the speed at which the athlete will change direction. Slower decision making will lead to slower reaction time and in turn a less agile movement because it will be significantly slower than if the brain had made a quicker decision. Training and game style practice with pressure is key to training the psychological factors of agility. The ability to make decisions isn’t always natural to an athlete and takes time over an athletes career to develop.
Illinois Agility Test:
The most common test for agility is the Illinois agility run. This test is used at the AFL draft camp and has been used around the world. The test is set up with cones or sticks where the athlete has to run around a course in the quickest time possible. The athlete is rated via this time.
The T Test:
The T test is a more simplified way to test agility. Setting up with cones in a T shape, the athlete will sprint out to the middle cone, shuffle to the left cone and then shuffle to the right cone (shuffle meaning sidestep) then stop back to middle cone then run backwards to the cone they started from. This is also a timed way to test agility.