Historically in police training, there has been an emphasis on weight training and running, leaving other fitness components neglected. Weight training and running absolutely provides a strong training foundation, but as police trainers we must look at other fitness components that give our officers the best chance to win. When we develop fitness training programs for our recruits and officers, we must always make sure that we are getting the best return out of our training with the limited amount of time that we have to work with them. In the following newsletter, we will discuss integrating agility into training programs to assist in developing a more well-rounded officer. We also have an agility based instructional workout video attached at the end of this newsletter.
We take a lot of pride in hearing stories of how our former recruits have used a component of fitness successfully in their job. Many times, the stories they tell us start with an elaborate foot chase before apprehending a suspect. If these officers were unable to change direction quickly then these incidents could have turned out very differently. In the worst-case scenario, the lack of suitable agility skills could result in injury to the officer. According to the NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning, agility is the interaction and/or “the skills and abilities needed to change direction, velocity, or mode in response to a stimulus”. There are several different primary abilities that contribute to agility.
1. Dynamic flexibility – the range of motion around a joint while in motion.
2. Multi-limb coordination – the ability to coordinate the movement of multiple limbs simultaneously while performing a task.
3. Power – the time rate of doing work.
4. Dynamic Balance – the ability to maintain total body balance while moving.
5. Acceleration – change in velocity per unit of time.
6. Stopping ability – the ability to brake or decelerate
7. Strength – the ability to exert force
Drills for developing agility skills can be performed in a variety of ways with the use of cones, hurdles, and ladders. We can separate agility drills into three different categories. The first category is called closed drills. Closed agility drills are performed in a known environment where the participant has a specific task to perform. An example of a closed agility drill would be the use of an agility ladder pattern. The drill would be practiced repeatedly and gradually footwork should improve. The second type of agility drill is called an open drill. An open drill requires the participant to respond to external cues or stimuli during the drill. One example of an open-ended drill can easily be set up with two participants. One pertinent would be shuffling side to side randomly. The second participant would be standing directly in front of the first participant trying to track their movement. The goal is for the second participant to stay directly in front of the first participant. After 30 seconds they would switch training rolls. We call this a mirror drill. The third type of agility drill is called a semi-open drill. This is a combination of open and closed agility drills. An example would be for one participant to perform a simple agility ladder pattern and then have a second participants randomly give the cue to sprint. The first participant would immediately have to react to the cue, stop the agility ladder pattern, and sprint to a predetermined point.
We use all three types of drills in recruit training. We would be happy to design an agility-based program for any officer interested. Attached here is an example of a closed agility-based work out that combines body weight exercises with footwork drills. The workout takes about 15 minutes with a one-minute break between two-minute rounds. Repeat the workout 2-3 times depending on your fitness level and amount of time you have to devote to training.
2. NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength And Conditioning