“Speed!”… “Move your feet!”… “Faster!”… “Quicker! Quicker! Quicker!” We’ve all heard that athletes need to become quicker, faster, and stronger. Contrary to popular belief, you can absolutely develop speed, agility, and explosiveness. Players aren’t “born” with it, and anybody that tells you that you can’t develop speed is drinking the Kool-Aid through a paper towel sized straw. However, you can’t do it on your own, so we’ve provided you with a guide to pick up the best speed and agility training equipment along with a couple of videos to develop your coordination to make speed the name of the game.
The Best Speed and Agility Training Equipment for Athletes
There is only one way to become quicker, faster, and stronger – that’s through deliberate practice. And, how do you develop through deliberate practice? That’s right – you do it on your own terms and push yourself through your comfort levels to develop fast twitch muscle and muscle memory. So, how do you do it? Well, you need the right equipment combined with a deliberate practice plan and relentless work ethic. Outside of providing you with proper the work ethic, below are the necessary equipment and videos to get you started on the right path to developing your agility, explosiveness, and speed.
Whether you perceive yourself as a beginner or think that you’re an expert, the one thing that is certain is that obstacles and equipment don’t know ones ability. However, what the following equipment has in common with high level trainers across the country is that they are commonplace in each one of their gyms and training routines.
1. Speed Hurdles
If you want to become quicker and develop speed, you must learn the dynamic movements that are required for you to move with power through picking up your knees and driving your feet into the ground to develop “pop” in your step. An essential piece of equipment for you to use to develop speed and agility is through using speed hurdles. The SKLZ Footwork and Agility Training Hurdles are a fantastic way for you to develop your speed and footwork.
If you want to pick up a more advanced version with an adjustable height so that you can raise them as develop your speed, you should go with the SKLZ Adjustable Height Hurdles. These hurdles telescope up on the sides so that you can raise the height of the hurdle to increase the difficulty of clearing them.
SKLZ provides a fantastic video as well through their YouTube channel to give you some exercises to focus on as you start out with your drills:
2. Foot Ladders
Want to run like Christian McCaffrey and be the slipperiest player on the field? Want to move up and down the court with open hips to get the ball back across like Roger Federer? Or maybe you want to have quick feet like Johnny Gaudreau and dive up the ice pulling away from everyone in sight? If you want these skills, you need to train how quick you move your feet through foot ladder drills and you needed to start yesterday. Foot ladder drills are extremely important because they develop all of the muscles associated with moving your feet, legs, and hips. There are exercises that are associated with opening your hips so that you can work on your change of direction and develop lateral explosiveness that is key for changing direction at a high speed through opening your hips and your feet.
The foot ladder also develops one of the most important athletic traits of successful athletes: foot speed. Contrary to popular belief, people aren’t just born with foot speed. The best athletes in the world practice their footwork religiously because your feet are the foundation to your success. Foot ladders are relatively cheap, and ones like the SKLZ Quick Flat Rung Agility Ladder are our preference of choice because multiple ladders can be hooked together to make the exercise longer, plus this version comes with a free carrying bag. If you’re looking for an advanced ladder with dual squares side-by-side, then you should go with the Cintz Dual Speed and Agility Ladder to work on more explosive lateral movements.
Youtuber & Fitness Instructor Charlie Melton provides you with some basic drills for the foot ladder to start you off with a solid routine:
3. Plyometric Boxes
Having quick feet is fantastic in developing your athletic ability to change direction and move freely, but you won’t be as effective if you don’t develop power along with that speed. The plyometric box is the best speed and agility training equipment for you to use in order to develop your explosive power in a linear a lateral direction. There are also various exercises that you can implement with plyo box training are great for improving explosiveness, speed as well as your vertical jump. Athletes of all levels use these types of boxes for forward, lateral, and other plyometric jumping drills to increase not only their vertical jumping ability, but also drastically increase foot speed, endurance, and overall leg strength. If you’re looking for something that is portable and lightweight (35 pounds) then you should go with the Fuel Pureformance Adjustable Plyometrics Box that adjusts to three seperate heights with a quick spring adjustment.
If portability isn’t an issue, and you’re a beginner with jumping, then you should go with a soft plyometrics box like the Fuel Pureformance 3-in-1 Foam Plyo Jumping Box to help minimize risk of injury to your shins and ankles. Box jumping is an explosive form of training that can injure you if you are reckless while learning to use the equipment, so make sure that you have watched videos like the ones below to pick up the ins and outs of proper form and things to focus on while working on your explosiveness so that you are prepared when you start to exercise with them.
This video below from Redefining Strength gives you 23 basic plyometric box exercises to master to start you off on the right foot:
4. Speed Parachutes & Resistance Accessories
Have you heard the saying that it does not matter how fast you run, but what matters is how quick you get to your top speed? Well, its true, and one of the best ways to develop your acceleration is to incorporate a form of resistance training with your sprinting routine. The SKLZ Speed Resistance Training Parachute and the SKLZ SpeedSac Weight Sprint Trainer are some of the best speed and agility training equipment that you can buy to work on your sprinting routine. These resistance parachutes provide just enough resistance (10 to 40 pounds usually) for all ages to use to improve their speed, stamina, and acceleration. These chutes release during sprints to work on overspeed training as well, which is a vital form of training to develop coordination and create “athletic feet”. These chutes are some of the best speed and agility training equipment on the market that can develop your coordination and foot speed training.
Athletes that are looking for speed and agility training equipment that can provide adjustability should look to pick up a weight training device like the SKLZ SpeedSac. This speed sac will help you improve your sprinting times by strengthening your lower body muscles and allows customization by including three separate 10 lb sand bags and an adjustable leash length to help accommodate athletes of any size or shape.
For an introduction video on sprint training, check out this video from kbandstraining:
5. Agility Cones/Discs
Last, but certainly not least, you need to pick up some cones to serve as markers and round out your speed and agility training equipment. Speed and agility training are vital to an athlete’s ability to develop quickness and explosiveness for many reasons because this type of training is based around high intensity training with multiple changes of direction over a short period of time, pushing coordination and stamina to the limit. This type of training develops both your inner and outer hips and teaches athletes how to rotate their hips from their upper body, allowing maximum movement from side to side.
Open hip speed and agility training also develops coordination, builds cardiovascular stamina, and develops the quick twicth muscle fibers in order to operate and change direction at a high speed.
For some cone drills, check out this video courtesy of King Sports training:
So, in order to develop quickness, there is one common rule: You must practice it. And, this speed and agility training equipment will help you take your next quick step in the right direction. Are some people naturally quicker than others off of the start? Yep, you bet they are. But, the players that practice religiously on their own time eventually catch up and pass those athletes who are “gifted”. Grit, purposeful practice, and a relentless work ethic with these cost effective methods of training will increase your playing time and your ability to operate at the highest level possible when the whistle blows.