By Jay Dawes
Jay Dawes, PhD, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA, is an Assistant Professor of Strength and Conditioning and the head strength coach for women’s soccer at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Jay has worked as a strength/performance coach, educator and post-rehabilitation specialist for over 15 years, and continues to act as a performance consultant for a wide-variety athletes, law enforcement officers and those in physically demanding occupations. Jay was recognized as a Fellow of the NSCA (FNSCA) in 2009.
Most sports require the muscles of the body to work together in a synergistic and coordinated fashion to produce skilled and complex movement patterns. For this reason many athletes utilize drills to enhance their overall body control, foot speed and coordination. One training device that is commonly used for these purposes is the Agility Rings.
The Agility Rings are an excellent tool for beginners seeking to improve their overall athleticism because many of the drills performed with this tool are relatively easy to learn and simple to perform. However, as athletes progress in their skill and proficiency of movement the reactive demands and speed of these movements can be altered to challenge the abilities of even the most advanced athletes.
The Agility Ring drills discussed in this article would be considered low level plyometrics. Plyometrics drills are commonly used by athletes that require the stored elastic energy and reactivity of the body to produce force rapidly. These drills are characterized by a quick stretching (eccentric muscle action) of the muscles followed immediately by a strong shortening (concentric muscle action) to produce movement. This stretch is very transient in nature, and not the same as what you would perform when doing flexibility training. Instead this rapid stretch occurs when the feet land on the ground and absorb the forces from the landing of the hop or jump. As the feet contact the ground a rapid stretching movement will occur. In order to maximize the benefits from this type of training the athlete must land on the balls of the feet with good body position, and in a smooth and controlled manner get off the ground quickly, as if they were a hi-bounce ball, and redirect their bodies to the designated ring.
The drills featured in this article are known as “multiple response“ drills because they involve either single or double leg movements performed without breaks between hops. They follow a basic progression from low-intensity to higher intensity and from simple drills to more complex drills. However, prior to performing these drills it is important that the athlete has a solid strength base and is able to perform each drill correctly with proper technique and body position before progressing to the next drill. The following are just a few examples of drills that can be performed using the Agility Rings.
Figure 1: Agility Rings:
- Scissors: Begin with the right foot in Ring 1 and the left foot in Ring 4. Bend the arms at 90 degrees, and using a reciprocating opposite arm and leg action, alternate the feet back and forth in a rapid scissor like manner. It is important to remember when performing this drill that this opposite arm opposite leg movement pattern be maintained to ensure balance and coordination.
- Forward/Backward Hops: Begin by placing the right foot in Ring 1 and the Left foot in Ring 2. Simultaneously hop forward landing with the right foot in Ring 3 and the Left foot in Ring 4, and then rapidly hop back to the starting position. Repeat this drill for the desired number of repetitions.
- Lateral Hops: Begin this drill by standing with both feet together in Ring 1. Hop laterally back and forth between Ring 1 and 2.
- Diagonal Hops: Begin this drill by standing with both feet together in Ring 1. Hop diagonally back and forth between Ring 1 and 4. Once the desired number of hops has been completed repeat this drill hopping back and forth between Rings 2 to 3.
- Ring Hops: While moving in a clockwise manner hop with both feet into each Ring. Once this has been completed repeat this drill hopping counterclockwise into each Ring.
- Reactive Ring Drill: This drill is performed in the same manner s as the Ring Drill, however on the coaches/trainers command the athlete should ”switch” directions and hop in the opposite direction.
Once the athlete becomes proficient at these movements the demands of these drills many of the drills discussed above may be progressed by performing them on a single leg. However, it is important to make certain the athlete is strong enough to perform these drills and can maintain proper foot position, body control and good body alignment throughout the duration of each drill.
Upper-body drills can also be performed in the Agility Ring. These drills are great for improving power, reaction time, and stability of the trunk and shoulders for the experienced athlete. However, as previously discussed, should the athlete lack the appropriate amount of strength, not be able to maintain good body position , or has an upper-body injury (such as to the hand, wrists, elbows, or shoulders) more strengthening work should be done prior to using these drills or other drills that will not aggravate these injuries should be utilized.
- Forward/Backward Upper-body Plyo Hops: Assume a plank position with the right hand in Ring 1 and the left hand in Ring 2. Allow the arms to slightly flex and then extend them forcefully shifting the hands forward until the right hand is in Ring 3 and the left hand in Ring 4. Repeat this movement and return the hands back to the starting position.
- Forward/Backward Plyo Push-ups: Assume plank position with the right hand in Ring 1 and the left hand in Ring 2. Lower into a push-up position and on the upward phase forcefully explode upward and slightly forward until both hands and feet are in the air. Land with the left hand in Ring 3 and the right hand in Ring 4, and immediately drop down into another push-up and explode upward and slightly back, returning to the starting position.
- Upper-body Scissors (Crocodile Hops): Assume a plank position and place the right hand in Ring 1 and the left hand in Ring 4. Allow the arms to slightly flex and then extend them forcefully; simultaneously shifting the right hand forward to Ring 3 and the left hand to Ring 2. Repeat his movement for the desired number of repetitions.
- Upper-body Plyo Scissors Push-ups (Crocodile Plyo Push-ups): Assume a plank position and place the right hand in Ring 1 and the left hand in Ring 4. Allow the arms to slightly flex and then extend them forcefully simultaneously shifting the right hand forward to Ring 3 and the left hand to Ring 2. Repeat his movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Below is a sample weekly workout for beginners. Keep in mind these drills, the number of sets and the amount of time performing these drills may need to be modified based on the athletes current levels of skills, strength and abilities.
|Day 1: Monday||Day 2: Wednesday||Day3: Friday|
|General warm-up: walk, jog, calisthenics, etc-5 minutes||General warm-up: walk, jog, calisthenics, etc-5 minutes||General warm-up: walk, jog, calisthenics, etc-5 minutes|
|Sport-Specific Warm-up:5-10 minutes||Sport-Specific Warm-up:5-10 minutes||Sport-Specific Warm-up:5-10 minutes|
|Scissors 3 sets x 8 sec. ea||Scissors 2 sets x 8 sec. ea||Scissors 2 sets x 10 sec. ea|
|Forward/Backward hop3 sets x 8 sec. ea||Forward/Backward hop2 sets x 8 sec. ea||Forward/Backward hop2 sets x 10 sec. ea|
|Lateral Hops3 sets x 8 sec. ea||Lateral Hops2 sets x 8 sec. ea||Lateral Hops2 sets x 10 sec. ea|
|(*)Diagonal Hops4 sets x 6 sec. ea||(**)Diagonal Hops2 sets x 8 sec. ea||(**)Diagonal Hops2 sets x 10 sec. ea|
|Total Time: 96 sec.||Total Time: 64 sec.||Total Time: 80 sec.|
(*) Jump between Rings 1 and 4 for the first and third set, and Rings 2 and 3 for the second and fourth sets.
(**) Jump between Rings 1 and 4 for the first set, and Rings 2 and 3 for the second set.
This article was originally published on the website of Elite Sports University (ESU) and is being used with permission from the organization. ESU is an online university that offers the latest scientific courses on strength and conditioning, speed agility, nutrition, and specialty classes for tactical coaches, LTAD, and personal trainers. ESU classes can be taken to fulfill CEU requirements, college credits, or to improve your knowledge base. More information is at: elitesportsuniversity.com.