Basketball is one of the fastest-paced sports in the world. Players need to be in tip-top shape and able to run an entire game to keep up with the rest. Top players know that you need to be well-conditioned, but what really sets them apart from the rest is their speed and agility.
It is important to understand the difference between speed and agility. Speed is simply how fast you can move in any direction. You can point out how fast a player is when they blow by defenders. Lebron James is known as one of the fastest players in the NBA, but he also worked very hard to train that skill. Agility is the ability to change direction quickly while maintaining body control. Kyrie Irving is a good example of a player with high-level agility when he changes directions while ball handling.
Here are two drills commonly used at our Basketball Camps that you can practice to increase your speed and improve your agility. Note that you should do these drills after going through a dynamic warmup.
1. Speed Drill: Hill Sprints
All you need is a hill and sneakers to do this drill. Start at the bottom of the hill and sprint up 20-30 yards before turning around and walking back to the bottom. Repeat this five times for a set, and do 4 sets for a total of 20 sprints. You should rest about 30 seconds at the bottom of the hill between sprints and then 2-minute rest between sets.
While sprinting, focus on driving your knees upward and pumping your arms hard even when you are tired. It helps to do this with teammates or friends so you can encourage each other through the drill. One way to track your improvement is to time your sprints and record the progress over time.
2. Agility Drill: Lane Agility Drill
Find any basketball court that has the free-throw lane painted on. If you don’t have a free-throw line to work with, measure 15 feet from the point on the floor directly from the backboard.
Place cones at both the elbows and then two more cones the same distance apart on the baseline. For this entire drill you will be facing the same way.
Start at one elbow and sprint toward the baseline. From there, shuffle across the baseline toward the other cone, backpedal to the elbow, shuffle to the starting spot and touch the ground, and then go back the other way, finishing with a backpedal through the starting spot.
Repeat this two times on each elbow, for a total of four repetitions, and repeat that twice through. The most important thing to keep in mind while doing this drill is to be in control of your movements. The goal is to create good habits that start with being controlled. Similarly to hill sprints, you can track your progress by timing each repetition of the drill.
It is important to stay positive and realize that you will not improve after doing these drills one time. It takes commitment and determination to make changes so when you aren’t feeling your best remember to keep pushing! These are just two of the many drills that can help you work on speed and agility.