Plyometric exercises are fast, powerful drills that help improve your agility, or ability to change directions quickly, according to strength and conditioning specialists Thomas Baechle and Roger Earle. These drills require your muscles to generate force rapidly to accelerate and decelerate your body, which is important for most sports, especially baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis and volleyball. Perform these drills one to three times per week.
Drop and Get Up
Lee Brown and Vance Ferrigno, authors of “Training for Speed, Agility, and Quickness,” recommend the “drop and get up” drill to improve your agility. Stand upright holding a racquetball or tennis ball. Throw the ball about 10 feet in the air, drop to your belly, get up and catch the ball before it bounces twice. Alternatively, throw the ball higher and try to catch it before it bounces once.
Forward-Backward Ladder Drill
The forward-backward ladder drill improves your ability to accelerate and decelerate while moving forward and backward. Stand at one end of an agility ladder. Jump with both feet over the first square into the second square. Immediately jump backward to the first square, forward to third square, backward to the second, forward to the fourth and so on until you have gone the length of the ladder. Spend as little time as possible on the ground between jumps. After performing the drill with both feet, do the drill on one foot and then alternate feet with each jump.
The hexagon drill, featured by Brown and Ferrigno, works on your agility in all directions. Draw a hexagon with 2-foot edges on concrete with chalk. Stand in the middle facing any of the edges. Jump forward over the edge you are facing and then back to the middle of the hexagon. Then, while facing the same way, jump diagonally over the edge immediately to your left and back to the center. Continue to the left until you have jumped over all the edges once. Rest briefly and then perform the drill in the opposite direction.
Lateral Box Jumps
Lateral box jumps improve your ability to jump high from side to side. Stand on either side of a wooden box, between 1 and 3 feet tall. Jump sideways on top of the box and then off the box to the opposite side. As soon as you land, jump back on top of the box and then back down to the starting position. Perform five jumps in each direction.
Skier jumps require quick side-to-side movements with both feet like downhill skiers make when weaving through gates. Place a 3-foot-long piece of tape on the ground. Start on either side of the line and jump sideways, back and forth across the line as quickly as possible. Count how many jumps you can make in 1 minute.