Reactive agility training
The Conditioning for Youths online learning module introduced agility technique training and planned change of direction drills. In training however, we are looking to adhere to the principle of specificity and in a game situation the player will rarely be planning their change of direction (Holmberg 2009). The execution of a change in direction will be in response to a stimulus, for example, the movement of the player defending might cause the attacker to rapidly change direction to a certain side. The research seems to suggest that more high-level players will perform better in reactive agility tests compared to low-level players while in planned change of direction tests there was no difference between the skill levels (Inglis and Bird, 2016). This indicates that reactive agility could be related to playing at a higher level and therefore it should be included in the training plan. It has also been shown that the likelihood of injury is increased when movement is unplanned so training the ability to react is important in reducing the risk of injury (Holmberg, 2009).
When training reactive agility, we are still looking at making sure change of direction technique is solid and movement mechanics are sound but we are also bringing in a perception component to the training. Perception skills allow us to detect a cue and produce an appropriate response to a sports specific situation. Reactive agility is influenced by the cue the player receives and their perception and decision making ability based on this cue (Engelbrecht et al, 2016). This cue can be visual or auditory and both types can be incorporated into reactive agility drills. Below are examples of reactive agility drills: