Team-sport players in particular must consistently and continually execute actions requiring power during a game. Although the benefits of power development are well known, many coaches are still unaware of the strong links between power and maximum strength. Coaches and players wish to see year-by-year improvements in power, speed, agility, and quickness. It is important to realize that these abilities cannot be improved consistently without similar improvements in maximum strength.
The best method for developing power, agility, and quickness involves applying science to training. For optimal improvements in athletic abilities, team-sport players need to incorporate (a) a maximum-strength phase in which the goal of training is to increase the recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers and (b) a power-training phase, which results in the increased discharge, or firing rate, of the fast-twitch muscle fibers recruited. This is the only way to consistently increase the game-specific physical qualities of power, speed, agility, and quickness. If this strategy is not followed, players will lose power, which then directly and negatively affects the development of speed, agility, and quickness. Of course, the volume and intensity of agility drills depend on the skill level and stage of athletic development. Kids in the initiation phase cannot be expected to perform precise agility drills at a level of intensity that is recommended for those in the athletic formation stage; their limited motor skill development would make performing the exercises very difficult.
The key to strong and powerful movements (i.e., agility) is to properly train the athlete at his current level of development. As the athlete’s strength and speed work slowly and progressively increase in volume and intensity, so will his ability to apply force against the water, thus developing and improving her agility. Agility is not a stand-alone program or set of exercises but rather an important skill that must be complemented with an appropriate program in strength, flexibility, power, and speed training.