Making training into a fun game is a sneaky way to get athletes to give even more effort during sessions. It’s also a great tool to incorporate into training because it more closely resembles competitive play where movements are random, and athletes are forced to react quickly and decisively. At my gym, the Boost Performance Center we use a few different games during speed and agility training to keep things fun, while still focusing on development. Here are 5 fun games to develop speed and agility.
- Redlight Greenlight- This is a great game to use to emphasize deceleration. Decelerating is an important skill for athletes since the better they can decelerate, the better they can re-accelerate. Many musculotendinous injuries (injuries to tendons that attach muscle to bone) happen to athletes while decelerating so working on these skills can be very beneficial to helping athletes stay safe during competition. In this game a field space of 20-25yds is all that’s needed. The athletes will line up on one end of the field with the coach on the opposite side. The coach will act as the stop light and yell greenlight, in which all players will sprint towards his end of the field. When the coach yells redlight all the athletes must stop on a dime in a 2 point stance. A twist we put on the game is to watch how efficiently the athletes decerlate, and calling them out if they are shaky or have to put a hand down to stop. To take it a step further you can require athletes to stop on the same leg (in a 2 point stance) every time. The one who decelerates the most efficiently and makes it to the opposite end first wins. Play this game in rounds with up to 6 athletes at a time.
- Sharks & Minnows- We put a twist on this classic game that’s great at developing agility. The ability to quickly cut and change direction, juke opponents, break down, decelerate, and use circular speed are all used here. A 40 yard field in length and width with about 10 minnows and 3 sharks each round will work nice here, as this game can be quite exhausting. We also like these measurements because too many athletes at once can increase the risk of collisions. All minnows must start at one end of the field while the sharks start in the middle. On the coaches whistle the minnows will sprint to the opposite end of the field while the sharks try to tag them. The minnows will need to be elusive and use space to make the sharks miss, while the sharks will need to close in on the minnows, break down and react to their movement. We execute this game with 3 minute rounds, with the coach yelling go again every time the minnows get to the opposite end. As you can imagine the game gets pretty exhausting, and whoever is left at the end of the 3 minutes wins.
- The Decel Game- This is a game we came up with right here at the Boost Performance Center and it’s always fun. As you can guess by the name, this game emphasizes deceleration. I’ve already gone over the benefits of deceleration training for athletes so let’s talk about how this game works. On a 25-40yd field athletes partner up and start on one end of the field. Starting in a 2 point stance when the coach yells go athletes will sprint 5 yards and will need to stop on the foot they started on. They will do this for 25 yards, with the coach yelling go every 5 yard interval. Athletes will be judged on how efficiently they can decelerate, and how hard they run each 5yd interval. Coaches can change the timing of each go to keep athletes on their toes and prevent athletes from anticipating them. The coach will judge which pair of athletes will win each round. This is one of our most fun games and coaches can increase the distance of the intervals as the athletes become more proficient.
- Ground Burst- This is another one of our popular games that works on full body power and acceleration. It’s quite simple as 2 athletes lie one the ground in a position of the coaches choosing (pushup, plank, on their back or butt, kneeling, etc..). When the coach says go athletes must get up as quickly as they can and sprint 5, 10, or 15 yds. What I love about this game is that some of the faster athletes may struggle getting off the ground so it allows other athletes to shine as well. All in all it’s a race to see who can get up the fastest and accelerate for the desired distance. Have athletes change partners and call out the winners in each rep. This game gets VERY competitive!!
- Ball Drops- This is an oldie but goodie right here. A simple game that reinforces the need for athletes to accelerate while maintaining a low body position. Coach stands a distance of 5-10 yards and bounces a tennis ball in the air. As soon as the ball hits the ground the athlete will accelerate out of a 2 or 3 point stance and try to catch the ball before it hits the ground again. The athletes will need to react to the sound of the ball hitting the turf and execute an explosive get off. The athlete will also need to fire out as low as possible in order to catch the ball. Coaches will need to alter the height of the bounce as they move from 5 to 10 yards in order to give the athletes a realistic opportunity of catching it. All in all this makes for a fine drill to work on explosive get offs.
There are plenty of games for coaches to play in lieu of specific work to help the athletes learn healthy competition and reinforce skills developed in training. As a coach you can get creative and come up with endless possibilities for athletes to improve their performance. Just remember to keep it simple, keep it fun, and keep it appropriate for the level of your athlete. To see for yourself how we implement fun games into our speed and agility training, come check us out at the Boost Performance Center where we grind hard, and always stay solid! -Boostman