The Light Fantastic
Agility is multidirectional speed, or the ability to stop, react, change direction, and start again, all in a split second. But don't expect agility to come from a simple sprint through a gantlet of overturned Goodyears. "Until you add a reaction component to your speed drills—that unpredictable next cut—you're not developing agility," says pro trainer Vern Gambetta. Want to take some of the trials out of trail running, or sass up your soccer or hoops game? During the preseason, replace two of your weekly cardio workouts with the program below for a couple of weeks; you'll soon be juking opponents or dancing over obstacles with ease.
Warm up for five minutes by skipping and doing sidesteps, crossover runs, and backward runs in 30-yard increments. Now run from one end of the field to the other, making gentle S-curves. (Rest after each of the following sprints by walking briskly back the length of the field.) Next, jog five strides forward, then cut a mild slant to the right for five more yards. Jog downfield again for five yards, then slant left this time. Alternate direction from right to left, following this pattern the length of the field. Next leg: Make sharper cuts at 45-degree angles. This teaches you to plant and run, run and plant. Repeat, gradually getting to the point where you're running hard the length of the entire field. For your last lap, have a partner shout directions to turn. "Never compromise quality of movement," says Gambetta. "When you do, it ceases to develop true agility."
Toolbox: "Footwork is the basis of all my agility training," says Vern Gambetta. For fancy feet, he breaks out the ABC LADDER, a ten-yard-long lattice with flat plastic rungs, and has athletes pop in and out of the ladder in a variety of drills. ($90; 800-671-4045, www.gambetta.com)