I'm trying to shake up both my training and my teaching a bit, as I think I've gotten a bit "stale" in both. I want to incorporate various drills and exercises to work on agility, foot work and explosiveness, both in motion/direction change as well as kicking and reaction.

Obviously plyometrics will be a component of this, but what I would like to see as answers is not only the drill, but HOW it will help, i.e. will it help with target recognition, muscle development, movement enhancement, body control, multiples of the above, and how it actually accomplishes the desired goal.

Equipment that I have and/or will be purchasing includes two 15' flat agility ladders (Such as you see for football/soccer players), small cones for marking various layouts, stacked/varied height plyometric stands, and of course the usual assortment of MA oriented items (Kicking shields/targets, hand targets, BOB, kicking bags on stands).

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    I would be very interested in this as well. However, advise reading like "block down the pub told me..." is worst than useless, in fact it is dangerous. So please provide references. Thank you. Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 6:33
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    Consider a seminar with a dance instructor to introduce fundamental exercises and techniques of ballet, which will improve dynamic balance, static balance, and footwork.
    – stslavik
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 14:27
  • @stslavik - I took ballet as part of my kinesiology degree, and my wife is an Irish dance teacher. Agreed, ballet and dance in general are good for balance and proprioceptive training.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 14:48
  • Then you're perfectly equipped. Have at it. :)
    – stslavik
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 15:00
  • You should pick up an Agility Ladder Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:15

3 Answers 3


For explosiveness, your tools are the Olympic lifts (including preparatory work from powerlifting), box jumps, leaps, and sprints. Plyometrics can be used but as I understand it they are more appropriate for someone who is already squatting and power cleaning significant weight.

For agility, your tools are footwork drills and the general practice of learning new skills. These new skills do not have to be sport-specific; cross-training a different sport or gymnastic skill each week is helpful as well.

For the related attribute of body control and coordination, tumbling is king. Students should become proficient in all the various rolls, breakfalls, and transitions into those movements. I've seen trampolining recommended as an advanced exercise.

For sport-specific footwork your tools are sparring, technique instruction, and alive drilling.

Pretty much all references are from Tom Kurz' Science of Sports Training, except for recommendations for explosiveness, which also come from Rippetoe & Kilgore's Practical Programming and Harvey Newton's Explosive Lifting for Sports.

  • Thank you for the answer that hits all the components, but can you provide a reference on the plyo's needing squat/power clean preparation? I'm also looking for drills that can be done in the classroom without relying on outside supplementation. I believe there are plyometric based drills/exercises that don't need a significant prep period/routine.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 14:32
  • @JohnP Plyo creates a lot of stress; people that are already jumping and leaping around already shouldn't have many problems, but you still need to progress at an appropriate pace. Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 15:03
  • @JohnP That was from Kurz. I've seen it repeated elsewhere as 1.5xBW squat, but haven't looked at its origin. I think the point is that prior to that, strength work produces greater explosiveness (as well as other benefits) than specific training for explosiveness such as depth jumps. For general bounding and jumping I wouldn't apply that prereq. Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 18:09

I would encourage my students to take up squash (the racket game). It's good cardio workout and it's second to none at teaching good reflexes and sudden bursts of speed.

  • It's second to specific drills, but arguably more enjoyable overall. Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 15:04
  • Also, as I stated to Dave, I would prefer drills/exercises that can be done in the dojangh, rather than outside the studio.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 21:35
  • Of course, but this way you're free to focus on strategy and not have to get bogged down in tactics. Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 8:00

I would suggest playing the games of a 4 to 10 yr olds. They often run jump and roll for hours. I watch my kids play, and play with them all thetime. they are more powerful in play than when they train because they are truly having fun, and so they end up training harderand they don't even kow they are doing it.

I of course skip faster and farther than they do but when they start to hop from crack to crack on the side walk so do I. Of course I go two or three cracks to their one. Use their imagination you can make it as hard or as easy as you want to playing duck duck goose for example. I am doing duck walks and hundreds of squats before we even get to the monkey bars for the obstical course. Just do what they do but modify it for your frame. Some times those tight tubes take a lot of work to get thru

I know this seems kind of silly. When you reach the zen of a kid the sky is the limit. Don't worry about looking foolish. You are forming great relationships with your kids, grand kids, nieces nephews etc, and can get an amazing work out at the same time.

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