Welcome to Footwork Friday where we introduce agility drills, strengthening, and muscle care techniques for the athlete who understands how important their feet and legs are in carrying them through to the next step in their active lifestyle.
Runners and many other athletes don't get enough lateral movement in their training. This is why we tend to weaken in side-to-side movements and we also tend to become injured because of instabilities side-to-side. Even in an uninjured state, learning to stabilize the body to prevent lateral movement can be very useful to move quickly and safely across unstable surfaces like rocks, roots, grass and mud. As far as pure performance is concerned, increased lateral movement is an energy waste when you are trying to move quickly forward.
The agility efforts do not need to be long. The technique just needs to be as accurate as possible. Like I've shown in the videos, a 10-15 yard section is plenty long enough. Go through each drill 2-4 times. For any agility drill I recommend fully recovering between efforts because you are ultimately trying to train your nervous system, not your heart or lungs.
Initially, for the first drill, focus on keeping the contact light and not crossing one leg over the other. Strive for keeping the body tall. As you learn what it feels like to "stick" the outer leg, try to make sure your knee is staying straight over top of your foot. In other words, the knee doesn't bow inward or outward. It does need to be bent for a soft landing though. This is commonly done with an agility ladder but I prefer to do them in the middle of a short and easy run or a moderate distance run to keep the right muscles awake. As you get faster you can focus on lowering your body closer to the ground.
For the second drill focus again on light and quick contact with the ground. Emphasize keeping your stance wide and pumping the arms directly forward and backward. I like to do this in the middle of my runs as well. Just be careful because it will skyrocket your heart rate and effort levels very quickly.
Have fun and let me know if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org