Basketball Agility Drills – 18 Exercises To Improve Speed & Quickness

Are you failing to perform in games even after you’ve improved your strength training and ball handling skills? You might be missing on one of the most crucial physical basketball skills –  agility.

Basketball is a game that includes multiple planes of motion and quick changes of direction. Basketball agility training improves your explosive movement and allows you to change direction faster than your opponent.

Are you wondering how agility plays a role in basketball and how you can get more of it? Keep reading to learn the importance of agility drills and to know which you should be including in your training regimen.

Basketball Agility Drills To Learn:

Importance of agility

Mostly coaches and basketball trainers fail to notice the importance of having great agility on the court. Others complain about how much this important characteristic is overlooked while training in basketball.

You can focus only on strength if you want to become a body builder. But to be swift continually on the basketball court, having agility drills during training is imperative. You need to read your opponent, react and respond quickly.

In basketball, the athlete should have the quick ability to change their direction. They should do so while maintaining consistent speed and balance throughout the game.

A player who is extremely quick and agile will have the advantage of performing well on the defense, turnovers, in the fast break situations, take the charge and in pressing. Having your team perform agility training together as well as individually will enhance their performance on the court greatly.

Improved agility also helps to improve stability and balance, which is important when players are learning how to dunk. Stability matches improved power from strength training, with coordination.

If you are still unsure about how agility drills can help you – here’s what they’ll do for you or your players specifically:

  • Improves coordination, speed and reaction time
  • Helps to retain more energy throughout the game for improved stamina

Court Drills to Increase Your Basketball Agility

Now that you are aware of the importance of basketball agility training, let’s look at the drills to include while training.

1. The Super Shuttle

  1. Turn your back to the court and start underneath.
  2. In a defensive position shuffle back towards the right corner of the basket which is A.
  3. Now, sprint forward towards the point B but with the least change in direction.
  4. Keep your side facing the Starting point and move towards it with the defensive positive still intact.
  5. Now jump towards the net to touch it.
  6. Do the same with the side of point C and D.
  7. Repeat this in sets of 8 with a gap of 1 minute.

2. Weave in Weave Out

  1. In a straight line put 4 cones with the gap of 3 yards.
  2. Put a cone in between two markers each but in the manner of 3 yards to the left.
  3. Sprint to cone A then to B with the alternate leg.
  4. Repeat this up to eight times and start over.

3. Box Drill

  1. Mark a starting point by placing a cone in the center of a 6×6 yard court.
  2. Put cones in the four corners of the court.
  3. As your coach calls out the specific cone randomly, sprint towards the cone.
  4. Move back to the center and repeat for the next cone.
  5. Try to finish this set within 90 seconds.

4. Shuttle with Pass

  1. Start at the left side of the baseline, sprint forward to point A.
  2. Receive pass from player or coach, sprint back to the point B.
  3. Repeat this as you reach till point D. This time, keep the ball.
  4. Now dribble the ball towards the finish line.

5. The Figure 8 Drill

  1. Put 2 cones with a gap of 5 yards in between them.
  2. Start from the first cone’s behind and dribble around it moving towards the right.
  3. Now move diagonally towards the second cone.
  4. Move right when you face it and surround the second cone.
  5. Again move diagonally moving towards the first cone.
  6. Always remember to keep low and to put the ball outside the cones.
  7. This way you will be making a figure of 8. Repeat it in sets of 8 and rest in between.

6. High Knee Drill

  1. Put one foot in the space of a ladder and move across it.
  2. Focus on your knees and put them past your hips.
  3. Finish sets of 6 and take a break for 90 seconds.

7. Right Legged Thrust

  1. Put your right leg inside the ladder space.
  2. Put the next leg, that is the left outside while keeping balance.
  3. Move fast throughout the ladder this way.
  4. Maintain the level of your leg till your hips.
  5. Finish four repeating lengths in each set.

Footwork-Focused Agility Drills

8. Ladder Drill

Most sport players usually use this drill to help strengthen their leg muscles and improve their speed. This drill is also considered as a high-intensity workout, which is why it can burn a lot of calories. Players can do this in various types of reps and styles to focus on a particular footwork. They can do it upwards or downwards and they can do it moving from left to right. In order to achieve fast footwork, they can use the in and out drill where the player is position parallel to the ladder.

  1. Place a ladder on the floor
  2. Step right foot in the ladder, in between the rungs.
  3. Make sure that your foot does not touch the rungs.
  4. Follow your left foot.
  5. Step your right foot out, followed by the left foot.
  6. Continue the process until you reach the end of the ladder.

9. Jump Rope

The second best footwork is the jump rope and this is especially ideal since you will have proper coordination of your foot movement. Once you have mastered this, your feet will not tangle up during a game.

This includes bouncing motion which can help you move quickly especially when you are a boxer and you are playing inside the ring. In this drill, a rope held on both hands is twirled around while the person jumps over it. How fast and how high you want it all depends on you.

10. Step Drills

This footwork is to help develop your agility and speed. Since the platform is elevated, the resistance will help make the legs strong too. The platform which is placed on the floor and one just needs to step up and down and from left to right. This drill can be done within a specified time limit and as fast as one can. It could be performed by moving sideways or forward and backward. Try doing it as fast as you can for 5 seconds and then slow down for 30 seconds. Repeat the same process 5 to 10 times.

  1. Put an elevated platform on the floor
  2. Step up with your right foot, then your left foot.
  3. Step down with one foot, and then the other foot.
  4. Do this as fast as you can.

11. High Neutrals

This drill is done with really high intensity within just a short time. It helps promote strong and flexible legs. Strong legs are necessary for athletes so that they can be fast and strong during games. High neutrals can also help them bounce off the ground. For athletes limiting contact on the ground is very important since it will help them move fast

  1. Double Tap – Position yourself outside the ring. Step right into the ring and then follow your left foot. Step out using your right foot and then tap your foot on the ground. Do the same procedure with your left foot first, this time. Perform the drill as fast as you can for 6 seconds. Do three sets and rest in between.
  2. Switch Foot – Stand with your legs apart, place your right foot inside the circle and the left foot out. Bend your knees and your heels. With your elbows curved, move your left hand forward. Switch your foot and hand position as fast as you can for six seconds. Repeat in three sets.
  3. Out Step – Position yourself in an athletic stance, move your right foot and then make your left foot follow. Step backwards in the same manner but as fast as you can for six seconds. Make 2 sets using your right and your left foot.
  4. Icky Shuffle – Standing on your left foot, position the ring to the right and then lift your right foot off the ground. Step inside the ring using your right foot and then your left foot. Step to the right of the ring and move your left foot to the ground. Do three sets.

Plyometric Leg Exercises For Even More Speed

For more speed, you’ll also want to develop more power in your upper legs and calves. Plyometric drills help to develop explosiveness in your muscles in addition to the increased coordination your get from the above drills.

12. Box Jumps

The box jump is a very effective leg exercise meant to increase your vertical jump. It is also one of the most common plyometric exercises. The exercise will generally increase the two essential components of your body that assist in jumping. These are the glute muscles and the quadriceps.

To execute this exercise, follow these steps:

  1. Select a plyometric box of about 6 inches and place it in front of you. This box should enable you to start and land in a similar position.
  2. Stand in a squat position such that your feet faces forward about shoulder width apart. Your knees, hips and ankles should also be slightly bent in the process.
  3. You then have to flex your knees, hips and ankles. An exaggerated backward arm swing will assist you achieve this position.
  4. Swing your arms in a forward direction and use your legs to explode and propel your body onto the box.
  5. Ensure you get a soft landing on the box.
  6. Step down from the box, reset your body and repeat the process.
  7. Increase the difficulty of the exercise by increasing the height of the box or adding extra weight. You can add extra weight by using a weighted vest, dumbbells or barbell.

13. Skater Jumps

These jumps will build the lateral power and strength in your glute muscles and quadriceps. By placing the entire load on one of your legs, you are able to obtain balance and reduce the tendency of relying on one stronger leg in a two legged jump.

To execute this exercise, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure your feet are close to each other in a squat position and most of your weight is leaning towards your right leg.
  2. Push your right leg slightly off to the opposite direction.
  3. Using your right leg, extend the right knee, hip and angle in a forward jump at an angle of about 45 degrees to the right.
  4. Land softly on the ball on your left foot and move your right leg behind with your hips and knees bent in a manner to absorb the impact.
  5. You then jump off using your right leg in the opposite direction.
  6. Repeat the process using your left leg to complete the pattern. Continue the pattern for a specified distance of say 20 meters.
  7. Repeat the entire pattern for at least three times.

14. Dot Drill

This exercise increases the quickness and speed of your foot. The strength of your ankles and calf is increased in the process.

To execute this exercise, follow these steps:

  1. Place a five dot marked dice or a dot mat in front of you. The dots should be spread in a way that ensures two dots are at either end of the mat and one dot is in the middle.
  2. Beginning from the front of the mat, position your feet on the two corner dots.
  3. Bring your feet together towards the middle dot by hopping off the ground.
  4. Continue hoping towards the end of the mat by separating your feet to land on the two corner dots.
  5. Repeat these movements in the reverse direction. This forms one count.
  6. Repeat the process up to 10 counts to finish the first sequence of the exercise.
  7. The second sequence of the exercise will involve starting from the other end of the mat and moving forward rather than the reverse direction.
  8. Repeat the second sequence for another 10 counts.
  9. The third sequence involve hoping on each dot using one leg. Start from the right front corner dot.
  10. Using one leg, hop to the middle dot, then hop to the far right corner dot, then to the far left corner dot, then back to the middle dot, then hop to the far left corner dot and finish with the first right corner dot. This is one count.
  11. Repeat 10 counts for the third sequence.
  12. Change the leg and repeat steps j and k above.
  13. Repeat steps j and k but now with both feet closer to each other.

Drills Focused On Lateral Movement Only

Many of the above drills involve lateral movement, but do not focus on it. These drills will specifically train the muscles responsible for lateral movement:

15. Lateral Lunges

This lateral movement drill is simple, effective, and underused. Adding this exercise to your football strength program would push you far ahead of everybody else in your program. However, few people use this drill since:

This workout works your quads, hamstrings, and hips in a way that’s required to have the ability to move speedily sideways.

The lateral lunges are executed in the following steps:

  1. Pick up two dumbbells or grab a barbell and lunge to the side with one leg.
  2. Push yourself back to the initial position as quickly as possible.
  3. Ensure that your shin is perpendicular to the ground to unload stress from the knee.
  4. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

16. Angle Lunges

This drill is same as the lateral lunges, only that you make a 45- degree angle forward with your step. It is an invaluable movement for football and all sports since your training consists of another movement angle.

This step is taken about a thousand times while playing a football game. Therefore, it is important to train those muscles and to start small. The angle lunges are executed in the following steps:

  1. Step forward at a 45 degree angle
  2. Pick two dumbbells or grab a barbell and lunge to the side.
  3. Push yourself back to the initial position as quickly as possible.
  4. Ensure that your shin is perpendicular to the ground to unload stress from the knee.
  5. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

17. Lateral sled

This drill exercises the lateral muscles of speed in free space. You can use the drill to add volume whereas the soreness is reduced greatly. It can also be used to train on strength, train on speed, or train on condition.

The lateral sled can be executed in a number of ways:

  • Scissor walks
  • Standing shuffle
  • Shuffle (chest up, butt down)
  • Pass slides (same as shuffle but it is executed in a pass slide design executed by offensive lineman)
  • Alternative scissor walk

18. Lateral box jumps

This drill can make a pretty big difference in your football career. It can assist you to get down the line and make plays from the side of the back.

If you are a player and you have learned to apply force on the ground that is sufficient to propel yourself sideways and 30 inches in the air, then your game speed is top notch.

Lateral box jumps can be executed in two ways:

  1. It can be done on a low box moving side to side rapidly with little time of the ground.
  2. A series of many hops on to continuously larger boxes

The rapid sideways movement trains those who are slow on their feet, and is especially useful for large athletes.

Tips for doing these drills right

In order to increase the productivity of the agility training, the following tips will help.

  • Make use of verbal and visual cues during the progression of each drill eg. color code or number cones. This way, they can be easily referenced and you or your players can set milestones within each drill.
  • Use specific timing for each drill with a rest break between every set.
  • Include both group training as well individual training.

Balanced training

Basketball is a dynamic game so you need to incorporate special training sessions to keep your energy, or your team’s energy, high for each game.

However, each practice session must be well rounded. Always start with a warm up and move in to technique exercises, then move onto sprints and agility drills with and without balls, and finish the workout with stretching exercises.

Practice is about training automatic movements so they can be used in the game reliably, when players need to use them. When conditioned correctly, players will be able to sprint, move side to side and backpedal reliably, without tripping over their feet, and with speed and precision.

Remember, you make your luck before the game starts