To me, agility implies athletic readiness, and an ability to swiftly, safely and efficiently respond to outside forces, whether that’s an opponent, a teammate, a ball, a piece of equipment or even a whistle.
The most agile athletes can speed up, slow down and change directions while maintaining dynamic balance and correct body alignment.
So agility exercises have to incorporate speed and quickness, balance training and keeping good posture. In a nutshell, the best way to develop agility in young kids is to use obstacles of all different shapes and sizes, markers, whistles and even hand signals.
Here’s a simple one to get you started.
It’s called the Spider Run…
What you need
5 BALLS OR SMALL TOYS,
5 CUSHIONS AND A BUCKET,
CARDBOARD BOX OR HOOP.
Set up the 5 cushions in a circle, put a ball on top of each cushion and an empty box in the centre of the circle.The circle can be any size you like but each cushion should be at least 3m from the centre, otherwise the kids will get dizzy! Child starts at the bucket and on “GO”, has to run to each ball in turn, pick it up and run back to the box and place it inside. When all 5 balls are in the bucket, the game’s over.
You can make this competitive if you choose, by using a stop watch to time the Spider Run or by setting up a 2nd identical circuit so that parents can do it at the same time. First one to finish wins. You will see how this exercise encourages acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, adjustment steps and dynamic balance. Play it again, by starting at the centre of the circle and putting all 5 balls back one by one.
Now make the Spider Run more challenging… Could you add an obstacle between each cushion and the bucket, so the child has to jump over it?
Any kind of obstacle course is great for developing agility. You need things to jump over, weave around, squeeze through or crawl under. You will be amazed what you can make out of household objects. Chairs, tables, rugs, sticks, upturned books, buckets, water bottles, cans of food, cereal boxes, toys, cushions… It can be any shape or size and you can go through it anyway you like. Forwards, backwards, sideways, crawling, hopping, running…
The simplest way of encouraging agility of movement with a ball is to kick, throw, roll or hit it against a wall. It always comes back but not always straight or at the same pace so it helps kids learn to track the ball and react to its speed, angle and force, in order to successfully catch or trap it, then send it back again. The closer you stand to the wall, the quicker you have to be! Once kids have become good at passing and catching with hands and feet, try a mini bat or a hockey stick.