What is agility?
As a definition, agility is a rapid whole body movement with change of velocity or direction in response to a stimulus
It is the ability to change the body's position efficiently, and requires the integration of isolated movement skills using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, endurance and stamina.
Training Principles for Agility Training:
To be fast, you must train fast!
– Agility training should be fast and explosive. Training at sub-maximal speeds will only teach your body to move slowly. Be Fast!
Emphasize Quality over Quantity
– When training agility, you are teaching your body to move with efficiency and speed. Make each movement crisp and athletic. Doing a few quality drills at high intensity will do much more to increase your court speed as compared to several drills at low speed.
Athletic Position is Key!
– Being in an athletic position means being balanced; having a low center of gravity and creating a good base with your legs. As you execute each turn during agility drills, focus on lowering your center of gravity and establishing a good base with your legs!
Keep your agility training simple. Accelerate to each turn. Lower your center of gravity. Set a good base with your legs and feet. Re-accelerate to the next turn. In short, when you train to move fast and can always be in an athletic position, no matter where you are on the court, you will Get to every shot!
Why Agility is important in Tennis?
Agility is such an important component when it comes to an athlete being fast. Tennis requires the athlete to be fast over short distances, in multiple directions and have the ability to develop explosive starts from various positions.
Characteristics of Being Agile for Tennis Players:
- Changing direction quickly
- Possessing good flexibility
- Ability to react quickly to various situations
- Ability to stop suddenly
- Back peddling
- Ability to perform a skill while maintaining balance (hitting a forehand on the run)
Being agile is also position specific. For example in soccer a midfielder will be required to possess all the above characteristics. A goal keeper will also require additional abilities such as diving, rolling, get-ups after being on the ground, jumping from a variety of positions and performing different skill tasks while under a considerable amount of pressure.
In tennis, you will also want to differentiate between the movements of a serve and volley player to that of a baseliner.
A serve and volley player requires an explosive take off immediately after completing the serve. A split step is then performed near the service line prior to the player moving left, right or forwards to hit a volley. The agility aspect comes into play when the athlete must be able to quickly respond to a return hit any where on their side of the court.
Baseline players tend to focus a little more on their lateral movements of going from the forehand side to the backhand side. This lateral movement requires the athlete to accelerate to a ball, stop, pivot, mogul and then recover back to position. At any time they may need to push off and sprint forwards for a short ball.
Agility Drills for Tennis Should Include these Movements:
- Sprinting forwards
- Back peddling
- Bounding combinations with speed and agility
- Sudden changes in direction
- Explosive starts
- Recovery steps
As a tennis coach or player you will need to conduct a needs analysis of your movement which is best done by watching a video of yourself playing. This will allow you to see exactly how you move, your strengths and weaknesses, rate your reaction time, strength and power in acceleration and ability to recover from a stationary position. Then put together a plan of action to improve your on court speed and agility.
Below are a few Agility Training Drills: