Agility Tests Tell me More than just Agility

June 9, 2008

Strength and conditioning coaches, trainers, whatever you want to call them, use numerous tests to evaluate athletes and clients. From Rep-Max tests for the bench press, squat, and hang clean, to the 40 (football) or 60 yd (baseball) sprint, to the vertical jump test. So what I wonder sometimes is is the test simply assessing a biomotor quality (ie. speed) or does it also tell us something about how they play their sport?

One of my favourite assessment tests has become the 5-10-5 agility test. Simply because it is a better indicator of how the athlete can perform in their sport. This is because it involves change of direction, instead of a straight ahead sprint. My argument is that many sports like soccer and basketball require many changes in direction that are determined by the play of the opposition. Now, the 5-10-5 agility test isn’t perfect, but it does allow us to see non-linear movement much like the athlete encounters in sport.

For those that don’t know this test, the athlete starts straddling a middle line, then runs to the left or right to a line set 5 yards from the middle line, changes direction and runs to a line 10 yards away (5 yds past the middle line), changes direction again and runs through the middle line.

2 things I like noticing with this test is:

a) how does this compare to a straight ahead sprint test? (is a good time achieved on one and not the other?)

b) is their a difference when moving to the left and moving to the right?

Regarding this last point, the agility test must be run at least twice, once in each direction.

This is important because strength and conditioning coaches, and physical therapists have realized that a side to side asymmetry often indicates a higher risk of injury because it shows an unbalanced body. Now, I’m not looking for exact times, but fairly close (what I’m coming to look for a 5-hundreths second difference which is approximately a 10% difference).

As a coach, I want my athletes to equally well in all directions! One of the things I’ve realized within the past 6 months is that training is more than just training strength or power, its also important to teach athletes how to move properly and efficiently…something that becomes increasingly advantageous as an athlete plays at higher levels.



5 Responses to “Agility Tests Tell me More than just Agility”

  1. Good stuff, man. You could even take that a step further and set a square made up of four pylons. I understand that the 5-10-5 is for analysis purposes, but once you find a bias, set up the square circuit promoting the use of all movement, including the bias and get ’em to tighten up their time. You’ve probably already thought up something of this sort. I thought I’d just throw my two cents in the hat.

    I know you have my e-mail, but the program won’t let me submit without entering it.

  2. Chris Brown Says:

    You could do that. The thing with the 5-10-5 is that it is pretty much a universal test (we use it, other places use it, and pro leagues like the NFL & CFL use it). So it makes a lot of sense to try and keep testing consistent. Plus, doing both would increase the assessment duration, and they’re often long enough as is. Now as a drill, that one and others like it would be very useful…as another test, maybe not a best case scenario. Interesting concept though.

  3. […] is one of the big things I look for during the Pro-Agility Test (which I wrote more about here). I really want to watch how athletes make their change of direction during the test; Is it […]

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