Agility for Basketball
Agility is a major physiological ability among elite basketball players and training designed to improve this movement skill should be a priority for all coaches (Chaouachi, et al., 2009, p. 1575). Given the rule changes, especially Canada’s decision to adopt F.I.B.A. rules at all levels, it is imperative that all players are agile under game conditions, especially guards (Abdelkrim, El Fazaa, & El Ati, 2007, p. 73). Basketball is fast-paced and technically complex and differences in agility may be slight (Hoare, 2000, p. 391).
Agility by Position
Players who play diverse positions require various levels of agility. There is a large gap in agility between guards and forwards, although there is not a significant difference between guards and wings and wings and forwards (Hoare, 2000, p. 395). In order to accommodate the zone of proximal development of each athlete, coaches could modify their training to suit the demands of the position they play and their current skill level.
Basketball success is based on a combination of domain-specific traits (such as height and co-ordination) and generic characteristics (such as general intelligence). A player may not perform to their full potential until all of the components have developed (Simonton, 2001, p. 42).
When evaluating composite skill, coaches should consider late developing athletes. For example a player who is technically skilled should not be excluded because they are a step slow. “Talent” development is dynamic so that speed deficiency can be addressed or a lack of height can be eliminated by a growth spurt. Coaches must understand this that talent is not measured on a single scale but along multiple dimensions.
Preparation and Anticipation
Athletes who recognize patterns are capable of reacting more quickly and seem more agile (Syed, 2010, p. 26). For example, when playing defence, basketball players should observe the core and pillar of their opponents, not their feet or the ball. On offence, players need to understand common situation and what is likely to happen so they can be better positioned than the other team, creating another agility advantage.
Professional soccer players demonstrate superior visual search strategies when handling the ball, an aptitude that would suit guards equally well. After athletes master the skilled movement, they should practice agility in a reactive setting. Instructors should design task-relevant cues so that players practice their mental training skills (Holmberg, 2009, p. 75).
At the youngest age level, all athletes should develop their balance first. Athletes who pursue quickness, speed, or explosiveness without stability will play off-balance, unable to apply their physical skills efficiently. Afterwards, they should train their agility so they can play the game at a fast pace (Messina, 2008).
Balance, footwork, and movement skills must be consistent to permit feedback, such as: “the closeout was missed because their player initiated their short choppy strides too late and could not regain their control (Syed, 2010, p. 101).” It is important to form good habits before loading the drills with more complicated movements. Repetition of specific actions, supervised by an expert instructor, is critical.
There are many short sprints during a basketball games. Players never get up to maximum speed but they must race each other for the ball. The player who keeps their head up and watches the play develop will be able to anticipate the next play. This quickens reaction and creates the impression of greater agility. It is not only a matter of getting to a certain spot on the court but getting there in time to catch the ball and attack the basket (Pasquali, 2010). Playing against top competition, racing against the best, will inspire young athletes to become more agile.
Agility – demanded by the hundreds of rapid changes in direction during a basketball game – is linked to explosive strength, balance, co-ordination, and flexibility (Lower Limb p. 1570). Training should never occur in a vacuum. Simulating game situations and competitions make the drills more interesting and effective (Chaouachi, et al., 2009, p. 1570).
Metabolic Training entails that coaches tailor drills to best simulate the performance demands of the sport. (Taylor, 2004, p. 24). Agility drills should be no longer than the distances covered by players during competition and the timing should be identical to games. These circumstances permit the development of visual perception and decision-making skills (Holmberg, 2009, p. 73).
Intermittent high intensity exercise is an effective form of conditioning for agility because it simulates the heart rate experienced during games and the fast-paced nature of the sport (Balciunas, Stonkus, Abrantes, & Sampaio, 2006, p. 165). This power endurance training will increase anaerobic training, permitting sharp cuts, explosive leaps, and dynamic movement as the game progresses.
Agility should be especially loaded during the Learn to Train, Train to Train, and Train to Compete stages. Throughout the season, agility and other performance factors will be embedded in sport-specific drills. Load the drills with a clear progression, beginning with simple movements and expanding to include complicated actions and decision-making under pressure (Messina, 2008).
Purposeful practice demands that athletes compete at maximal intensity, pushing their limits. Coaches should establish drills that suit each athlete’s Zone of Proximal Development and drives them to become more agile. Running an obstacle course will not deliver optimal result but realistic and challenging drills will allow each player to reach their potential (Syed, 2010, p. 82).
During the general preparation phase, there should be a moderate amount of agility training, complete at game intensity. The volume of training should increase to a high volume during the specific preparation phase and decrease during the in-season phase (Taylor, 2004, p. 24).
Fatigue – mental and physical – will not only lead to a decline in shooting and passing accuracy but slower movements due to fumbling, miscommunication, and hesitation (Lyons, Al-Nakeeb, & Nevill, 2006). Training the anaerobic lactic system, which is primarily used during basketball (Abdelkrim, El Fazaa, & El Ati, 2007, p. 73), will reduce these small errors, perhaps leading to one more game-winning shot during the season.
Every student-athlete begins the year at their own unique level so the coach must push everyone to get better in order to meet the challenges of games and practices. Select three to six stations for each workout. Mixing up different drills adds variety and challenge.
The work:pause ratio is 1:2.
Other Athletic Abilities
- Abdelkrim, N. B., El Fazaa, S., & El Ati, J. (2007). Time–motion analysis and physiological data of elite under-19-year-old basketball players during competition. British Journal of Sports Medicine , 46 (2), 69-75.
- Balciunas, M., Stonkus, S., Abrantes, C., & Sampaio, J. (2006). Long Term Effects of Different Training Modalities on Power, Speed, Skill and Anaerobic Capacity in Young Male Basketball Players. Journal of Sports Science and Medecine , 5 (2), 163-170.
- Chaouachi, A., Brughelli, M., Chamari, K., Levin, G. T., Abdelkrim, N. B., Laurencelle, L., et al. (2009). Lower Limb Maximal Dynamic Strength and Agility Determinants in Elite Basketball Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 23 (5), 1570-1577.
- Hoare, D. G. (2000). Predicting Success in Junior Elite Basketball Players. 3 (4), 391-405.
- Holmberg, P. M. (2009). Agility Training for Experienced Athletes. Strength and Conditioning Journal , 31 (5), 73-78.
- Lyons, M., Al-Nakeeb, Y., & Nevill, A. (2006). The Impact of Moderate and High Intensity Total Body Fatigue on Passing Accuracy in Expert and Novice Players. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine , 5 (1), 215-227.
- Messina, E. (2008, October 11). Post Play. (O.B.A. Clinic)
- Pasquali, R. (2010, April 18). Coaching Motion Offence. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada: Ontario Basketball.
- Simonton, D. K. (2001). Talent Development as a Multidimensional, Multiplicative, and Dynamic Process. Current Directions in Psychological Science , 39-43.
- Syed, M. (2010). Bounce. New York City: Harper.
- Taylor, J. (2004). A Tactical Metabolic Training Model for Collegiate Basketball. Strength and Conditioning Journal , 26 (5), 22-29.