Footwork, Agility, & Skill Set?

Hey all,

I have been asked to write 2 10 week footwork and agility skill set training courses but myself I have no idea where to begin to write such a program. I am a max strength guy. anyones input would be greatful from different Exercises, where to put the exercises in the program, how to put them together in a stellar program for 10 weeks.


Ok I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking but I’ll relate what I do with my athletes and perhaps you might get something out of it.

First of all, you have to take into account the preparedness of the athlete. This summer, all of my athletes were female, age ranges from 14-18 and of varying abilities and preparedness; a couple are preparing to play D1 ball while a couple are just trying to make their varsity hs teams. All had some experience doing some sort of S&C training with their team but overall were of low preparedness.

One of the things that I think is most important for this level of athlete is the warmup. We do our warmups barefoot in grass (actually all of our trainign is in grass) and I really think that does help. We go from basic mobility and flexibility drills to stuff that can be strength and/or conditioning work for an untrained athlete such as bodyweight lunges, line hops and low-intensity (never more than 80%) running.

For some people, just doing a good, lengthy (about 20 minutes for us) dynamic warmup is the best thing they can do, especially for kids who are sitting at a desk or in front of a computer for 90% of their waking hours.

After that, we typically did a speed/power circuit of 4 exercises, starting a drill every 2 minutes and each drill would take somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds to complete. We did various jumps (broad jumps unweighted or holding light dumbbells, squat jumps holding light dumbbells, lunge jumps, scissor jumps, barrier hops, line hops, etc.), med ball throws (chest, overhand, scoop, alternating between different weighted balls), short sprints or miscellaneous “cone drills” with an emphasis on change of direction. This would typically take about 25 minutes to complete.

From there we would do strength work, consisting of some combination of trap-bar deadlifts, walking lunges (forward or backward), 1-leg RDLs, dumbbell side press, dumbbell row or one of about 10 sled drag variations for lower or upper body. Sometimes we wouldn’t really do any “true” strength work and instead just do some sort of conditioning circuit with the sleds. After that we did a cooldown, aka putting all the equipment back.

To try to put this into some usable context, I’d focus on a few things:

  1. First address basic strength issues. I can just about guarantee that anybody who can’t drop into a good lunge position (chest up, arms off the hips, knee directly over the foot and not caving in or out) and hold it for a few seconds isn’t going to be able to change directions well. If you don’t have that base level of isometric strength, you’ll never have agility or quickness.

Also, try to work low body positions; do a shuttle with a typical “unathletic” kid and you will see that when they change direction for the most part their legs are practically locked stiff and they are bending at the back and also taking like 5 steps to change direction. This is because they are just too weak to handle their own bodyweight. In contrast watch a video of a combine shuttle drill, there is bending at the knees and waist and it is basically just sink and go, not all the stutter steps.

So certain strength work I think is really important for agility.

  1. Work on explosive power. You say you are a max-strength guy so you should have an idea of how to do this. You can watch an NFL game and see guys who don’t move with perfect efficiency but just have that pure burst of power to make up for it. So that is important.

One drill I love for this (stolen from Joe DeFranco and probably about 8000 other coaches) is mountain climber starts. You can google that or find it on Joe D’s youtube page. I think it is great to both develop acceleration and also teach the mechanics of driving out and staying low on that first step.

  1. Keep working towards more challenging or higher-force movements. I see a lot of coaches who are addicted to these agility ladders or whatever, but the problem is they don’t do any progression. Those agility ladders are fine for a lower-level athlete and particularly good for young kids (<14) where they have more of a capacity to develop coordination and reflexes, but at a certain point you have to go past that and start working drills with either a greater force component or a more challenging body position.

I hope I helped somewhere in that rambling post. Also remember that 10 weeks of footwork and agility is worthless if there is no strength work. Remember that strength work doesn’t have to be in the squat rack either.

shit awesome that post helps me a lot also


When it comes to agility training you need to remember that you are teaching motor patterns. Just like strength training, future sucess can only be built on a good foundation. Therefore it is important that they are performed correctly from the start. I like to tell athletes that “practice makes permanent, and only perfect practicve makes perfect.”

When it comes to agility I believe there are five key skills (a sort of movement vocabulary) that should be mastered:

  • The Athletic Position - the whole point of agility training is to train the individual to be able to stay in a position that they can react from.
  • Transitional Movements - these are basic tracking movements like the side shuffle, back pedal etc… I a athletic setting they often don’t have to be done flat out, what is important is that the athlete stays in a athletic type position.
  • The Cut - doesn’t really need any explaining. However be sure to take the time to explain and demonstrate it (plant foot outside base, positive angle etc…)
  • The Chop Step - a tool for decelleration (whether it be a complete stop, or just to slow down to defend or attack an opponent).
  • Turning movements - including the drop step and cross step.

Be careful not to get carried away with 100s of different toys and drills. In the early stages especially, cones are pretty much all you need. You should be able to come up with a host of simple drills that work on the above skills. Start slowly with closed drills, constantly emphasising, and cueing good mechanics.

When movements are down, you can progress to more challenging close drills that piece several skills togeather, and then open drills that require the athlete to react to a stimulus (e.g. a command or an opponent).

It helps to give athletes examples of times where these skills apply to their sport, and if possible come up with drills that resemble certain sport/game scenarios. That way they commit to performing the drills correctly and ingain good motor patterns, instead of simply going throught the motions.

Hope some of this helps.

All the best.