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Introduction
LTAD - a critique
Demands of the game
Profile of players
Functional screening
Resistance training
Speed and agility training
Integrated game conditioning
Periodisation
Content
Questions

Speed development - agility, training and testing

Defining agility

In order to effectively plan a speed programme and in particular an agility element, it is important to define what we mean by ‘agility’. Many coaches set up pre-programmed (or closed) agility drills using cones. The pre-planned route does require agility but does not require great reactive decision making. Rugby players are being constantly required to make a choice reaction to an external stimulus (for example tackling an opponent or challenging for the ball) or to make a recognition reaction when many signals are appearing at them, such as when more than one opponent is attacking in a 3 v 1 situation. It has been noted that it is the ability of the player to choose a correct response and execute the chosen movement quickly and accurately that determines performance during play (Young and Farrow 2006).

Further, when a reaction drill or exercise is used in training or practice, logically it should be random or reactive and non-programmed. Otherwise, memorisation of the simple reaction may be occurring and this may eliminate the decision making process from the activity and thus compromise the overall training and learning effect (Cox 2002).

Agility can thus be defined as the reaction and movement as a result of a stimulus which demands simple, choice or recognition responses.

A simple agility drill will entail responding to one signal. Choice and recognition agility demand greater perception and decision-making competencies.

Figure 1. A player sidesteps as he seeks to evade an opponent. This may be a pre-planned or reactive response by the player.