Agility Training | How to Develop Your Agility

Whether you’re on offense or defense, boxing training requires foot speed, quick reflexes, and precise mind-body coordination. That’s why it’s important to add agility training to your routine.

Although speed and agility training is crucial to being your best in the ring, there’s no need to be an athlete to benefit from it. As we age, our bodies and minds slow down and become less sharp. Agility training helps you improve your balance, stability, strength, and body control. Thus, it’s essential for all walks of life.

Let’s learn more about the importance of agility and how you can develop it.

What is Agility?

Agility, or nimbleness, is the ability to change the position, speed, or direction of the body quickly and efficiently. Though there is no universal definition of agility, it can be described as “a rapid whole-body movement with change of velocity or direction in response to a stimulus." Agility requires a coordinated effort of isolated movement skills such as balance, speed, strength, reflexes, and endurance. Undoubtedly, learning how to develop and combine these skills takes practice, but its benefits are well worth it.

While agility may seem like a purely physical skill, it requires a great deal of mental effort as well. To improve your chances in the ring, you need to learn how to make the right decisions quickly. Building strength and endurance requires you to override your mental limits to keep pushing. Gaining balance of the body isn’t possible without balance of the mind; agility is an art that is built by training the mind and the body to work together.

Why is Agility Important for Boxers?

Speed and agility training is on the docket for most elite athletes, regardless of their sport. Although many boxers train to improve the power and quickness of their punches, they often neglect footwork and other important agility drills that will help them improve their defense. Speed and agility training will not only help you to effectively avoid incoming punches, but it will help you throw clean, powerful punches of your own. There are many more benefits to this training in the ring, including:

Leg Strength

What does leg strength have to do with boxing? A lot!

Strong legs allow an athlete to have more control and speed while changing the direction of their body.

Think about how often you have to change direction when you're in the ring. You have to constantly move around and keep track of your opponent, both when you are on offense and defense. You are mistaken if you think boxing only requires upper body strength. Boxing utilizes the entire body, and strong legs are essential to performing your best.

Foot Speed

Along with having strong legs, foot speed is a crucial part of killing it in the ring. Quick movements can put you in a position to hit and not get hit, to remain balanced in spite of oncoming punches, and to one-up your opponent.

Great footwork consists of balance, proper stance, movement, and speed, all of which are fundamental aspects of agility training. Sprints, plyometric exercises, and jump rope drills are just a few ways to practice agility training and get you moving those feet fast and efficiently.

Balance & Coordination

Balance and coordination are key for a powerful performance in the ring. Not only are you doing multiple things at once - punching, dodging, ducking, moving, changing direction, etc. - but you need to do it all while staying balanced.

By practicing speed, hand-eye coordination, and quick starts and stops, agility drills train you to develop balance and coordination in the midst of dynamic movement. It trains the body to work in sync as a whole, rather than focus on individual movements at a time.

Here are some simple exercises that will help you build your balance and coordination:

Injury Prevention

Many sports injuries happen when the body falls out of alignment while in motion. Because agility training helps to improve balance, flexibility, and body control, it reduces the risk of falls and injuries.

Mind-Body Connection

We so often act out of natural instinct, rather than conscious thought. Boxing, however, requires the systematic use of the body and the mind working together. You need to make attentive, calculated decisions about your next move.

Agility training is great for helping you develop that mind-body connection. Many of the exercises used in speed and agility training require the use of the brain as well as the body. Balance and stability are two examples of agility training skills that demand focus and attention. Thus, by developing your agility, you are also building the relationship between the mind and the body.

Exercises to Develop Your Agility

If you want to improve your agility and become your best in the ring, try out these three simple, yet effective agility exercises. The great thing about these drills is that most of them can be done right from home with little to no equipment!

Jump Rope Drills

A jump rope may be a small piece of exercise equipment, but it has huge benefits for boxers. Jumping rope helps fighters improve their foot speed, balance, coordination, and endurance.

When you jump rope, you become an expert at turning your wrists and using your ankles to move. As you get better with the rope, you’ll begin building up your speed and can then work on new jumps such as single foot hops, side to side, criss-cross, and scissors. These drills will help you prepare for the little jumps you make to stay on your toes while moving around the ring.

Shadowboxing Drills

This classic drill is probably one of the easiest ways to boost your agility and athleticism. It doesn’t require any equipment or gear and it doesn’t even have to be done in a gym.

Punching the air might not seem like it will get you far, but it actually carries a ton of benefits. Not only is it a full body workout, but it will improve your speed, footwork, and punching control. It’s also a great way to practice form and technique without the pressure of fighting an opponent.

Start by focusing on your form. Once you have that down, you can concentrate on improving your punches and footwork.

Agility Ladder Drills

Boxing isn’t all about the punch. Being able to control your feet and move quickly without falling over is what’s going to help you dodge, duck, and throw out your best punches.

Agility ladder drills are great for improving footwork, speed, and more importantly, helping you to become aware of your feet. Athletes around the world use these training drills to prepare for competition during their training program. As the name indicates, agility ladder drills are done using an agility ladder, which is a small piece of exercise equipment that you can roll out onto any flat surface. Drills include moving through the rungs in various ways. This is another great exercise to perform at home, as the ladder is a light and portable piece of equipment that you can lay down anywhere.

Working with a Coach

You'll often see professional athletes working with a coach or handler during a competition, but don't make the mistake of thinking that working with a coach is only for the elite few. Contenders of any skill level can benefit from working with a coach to help them reach their goals.

When it comes to speed and agility training, it can be challenging to know where to start and what exercises are best for your training program. A coach can assess your movement patterns, and help you develop your agility skills by incorporating training drills with agility obstacles, such as the previously mentioned agility ladder, as well as weave poles to help you learn to weave and change direction or small hurdles for little jumps that will help your footwork and leg strength. Your coach will often include plyometrics in your program to improve your explosive power.

In addition to your agility training program work, your coach may also incorporate some speed training workouts, as speed and agility training often go hand-in-hand. This form of conditioning will improve your overall speed and quickness, as well as your speed endurance. You may be shocked to find out that when you work with a boxing coach, they also become your strength and conditioning coach, improving your athletic ability in all areas.

Most importantly, your coach will be with you from start to finish to guide you, motivate you, and help you dig deep to get the most from your next training session.

Ready to take your skills as a contender to the next level? Training sessions at Gloveworx focus on improving agility, as well as other aspects of athleticism, to help you become your best in and out of the ring!