Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Agility vs Change of Direction Speed

Brian McCormick and I had another great email thread this past week. If you've read his last posts on his new website, he talked about agility versus change of direction speed. In Brian's post he stated this quote:

“Research has demonstrated the importance of agility, inclusive of reaction to a sport-related stimulus, and its distinctiveness from physical qualities such as sprint and CODS (change of direction speed) ability,” (Sheppard and Young, 2011).

This is implying that just throwing down cones drills and having your kids may not be the best way to coach and teach multi-direction speed or agility. Usually the most agile players are the best at reading the situation in their sport which comes from numerous repetition and deliberate practice. Agility is an open skill that requires your brain to process multiple factors, while change of direction speed is a closed skill that the athlete can focus on a pre-set pattern.

So this past weekend watching the NFL combine, the 40 yard dash, 20 yard shuttle, and 3 cone drill evaluate your speed and change of direction speed, that is only small piece of a much larger picture. These numbers are important because there is probably a cut off point or a range that a NFL player needs to be in in order to be able to keep up while still being able to react to the stimulus.

Lets look at Darrelle Revis. He is an incredible athlete and he ran some very impressive numbers, 4.35 40 yard dash, 4.08 20 yard shuttle and a 6.56 3 cone drill. Though Darrelle Revis' number where not the highest seen at the combine by any means. If it were all about the numbers than Chris Houston would be just as if not more productive as Revis. Who's Chris Houston? Exactly (he's actually a decent corner but plays on the Lions).

In the NBA, Shane Battier, Ron Artest, and Bruce Bowen are three guys who are know for great defense. They probably have very average Box Lane Agility times but they are masters of reacting to what the offensive player does and putting themselves in the best position to make it a difficult shot.

So while these numbers are important, it should be more about there ability to react to their sport-related stimulus. Most of these elite athlete's probably fall within 1 standard deviation of the combine tests, but in the end it's their ability to read various amounts of information instantly will ultimately determine whether or not they will be a valuable player in their sport.

Throwing down a closed skill test (cone drills) will only give you a fraction of the information you need to know whether or not an athlete is agile and can perform in their respective sport.

Coming next post is ways to increase athlete's agility...........

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