How to Plan: Problem Solving in Agility Drills

Most sports are nothing but a problem-solving activity where athletes must process and determine in split seconds which movements will put them in the most successful positions during competitive activity.

I have noticed that more and more coaches, including myself, have gained a true appreciation and understanding of an athlete’s ability to solve movement tasks. As a result, more and more coaches have been sharing their agility training sessions online.

Setting the stage

When watching these different types of agility drills through social media, three concepts tend to stand out:

  • Environment: Using an environment for athletes to explore their surroundings and determine which movements will be most successful.
  • Tasks: Having athletes solve different tasks under pressure and an appropriate amount of fatigue.
  • Competition: Making it competitive and fun. Competition pushes athletes at all times to go faster and at a higher intensity avoiding complacency.

With that in mind, I wanted to provide some examples of what I have incorporated with my athletes both at Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School and Sanford POWER.

Goal Line

This is a great competitive agility drill borrowed from Walter Norton Jr.

  • Environment: Two cones mark the goal line, eight to 10 yards apart.
  • Task: One athlete defends the goal line. The other athlete is trying to make it to either of the two diagonal cones across the goal line.
  • Competition: The defender is trying to stay in front of the athlete on offense or tag them before reaching one of the end cones. However, the defender cannot reach out in front to tag the athlete on offense – only out to the side when the offensive athlete approaches an end zone cone. Each bout will last five to seven seconds.

Tic-Tac-Toe

This is an agility drill that incorporates having to solve a task under pressure and fatigue.

  • Environment: A group is divided into two teams with each member of that team going one at a time.
  • Task: Athletes must decide where to place their marker – block three in a row or go for three in a row.
  • Competition: Each athlete tries to be the first to form three in a row.

It is always enjoyable to see the athletes have to think quickly on their feet.

Jordan Soukup, CSCS