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  • Writer's pictureIvan Josipović


What is agility in basketball?

Agility training for basketball is aimed at developing an athlete‘s movement potential with and without the ball. It is defined as the “a rapid whole body change of velocity or direction in response to a stimulus”, such as the ball or opponents movements (Sheppard & Young, 2006). It’s important to keep in mind that agility is a multidimensional skill that incorporates many other motor skills such as speed, power, and COD. 

Recent studies separate reactive agility from preplanned agility. Preplanned agility or change of direction (COD) suggests that the athlete is, in advance, fully aware of the movement pattern they are about to perform, while reactive agility implies the athlete's reaction to an unpredictable stimulus - such as lights, sounds, or visual cues. These two types of agility are different and not strongly related. So, it's important for athletes to train and be evaluated separately for each type of agility.

Importance of agility in basketball?

Agility is one of the most important skills in basketball. During a basketball game, elite basketball players execute 50-60 changes in direction and speed transitions (Balčiūnas et al, 2006) and make around 1000 movements, mostly lasting less than 3 seconds (Ben Abdelkrim et al., 2007). Over 40% of these movements are forward-backward and 20% are sideways. This shows how crucial it is for players to train change in direction in basketball. The type of movements varies by position: guards do more intense moves like shuffling and cutting, while centers do more jumping. 

One of the important reasons for training agility, backed up by NBA S&C coaches, is that agility training complements the development of speed. On top of that, change of direction training helps in injury prevention and prehabilitation. Different authors came to the conclusion that agility drills should be integrated in prehabilitation programs with the goal of lowering ankle related injuries (Agel et al, 2007; Dick et al, 2007).

How long to train agility for basketball players?

The program design depends on various factors such as  number of athletes in the team, the goal and the length of the session. Experts usually recommend sessions no greater than 500 meters, while keeping in mind athletes’ progress level. Detailed training frequency for developing basketball player’s agility depending on their training level can be found in the table below. 

The frequency of agility training also highly depends on the training phase, with 3+ days per week being recommended in the pre competition training period. During the preparatory and transition phase it is suggested to train agility 2-3 times a week. To ensure maximum performance during repetitions, rest periods should align with the distance covered and the duration of the drill. For shorter drills covering 15 meters, a work-rest ratio of 1:10 is suitable. However, for longer basketball-specific agility drills (spanning 25-50 meters) it's recommended to increase the work-rest ratio to 1:12 to achieve adequate performance recovery. For example, if a 30-meter drill takes 10 seconds to complete, a rest period of 120 seconds is advised for full recovery of the anaerobic system. Shorter rest periods can still be used to develop speed, but they may lead to decreased performance.



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