Skill Development – Agility

Why do you work so hard in the gym? I expect everyone’s answer to that will be different. The benefits of exercise are widely varied and in many cases unique to you as an individual. You might want to feel better about yourself, maybe you just like taking whatever it is you are doing and completing it to the best of your ability. Let’s be honest, you might just work hard in the gym because you want to please others a little bit more.

Believe it or not though, your body doesn’t know what your mind is thinking all the time. So whatever your motivation for getting/keeping fit is there are certain things that will happen regardless. One of the things that will happen is that a number of your physical skills will improve without you even thinking about it. So what’s my point?

Generally when you’re going to the gym you want to either increase size or increase strength. This means that certain skills are neglected – skills that if addressed can not only make you look good in the mirror, but can make you more of an all-round athlete.

One of those skills is agility – essentially how able your body is to change position at a moments notice. That’s one aspect of it, the other is the fluidity of your movement. So how natural does that rapid change in body position appear?

Your level of agility isn’t a predetermined number, it’s a skill that with the necessary work can be improved. That’s because agility is developed by improving  2 key components, balance and co-ordination. Basically being able to stay on your feet while your brain sends messages to your body. Outside of elite sport skills like agility, balance and co-ordination appear to be less important, when the reality is developing these sorts of skills don’t just benefit elite athletes but can improve everybody’s performance in the gym.

To develop any skill you need to address the individual components that make up that skill and improve those individually. So to become more agile it requires you to improve both your balance and your co-ordination. The ways you can go about improving these skills range from standing on one leg for as long as possible to participating in highly active sports.

As you’ll probably know already, your balance increases as you develop core strength. So by extension any core body workouts will help improve agility – which is one of the reason so much emphasis is placed on them. So whether it’s crunches, planking or the superman, all of these exercises help you to become more agile.

Another term that’s closely linked with agility is centre of mass, and specifically a low centre of mass is attributed to very agile people. This is because balance comes from being able to keep your centre of mass directly above the support base (usually your feet). Therefore the closer your centre of mass is to the ground, the easier it is to keep it above your feet at all times. So in order to remain agile when performing any sporting activity it is essential to keep as upright as you can when possible.

No, you can’t see agility in the mirror. And I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard the chat-up line, ‘I’m one of the most agile people you’ll ever meet’, but every time that you do a workout you are exposing these skills – skills that can be developed and improved. As a result the more that you develop these skills, the more benefits you will see in your own physical fitness.

Ollie Lawrence
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