Agility is one of the “10 pillars of fitness” as described by CrossFit. Many times (like today) we work on structured agility through a warm-up before class. But why? Why is agility on the list, what makes it important to our overall health and fitness?
Firstly, to become a better athlete, you need to have body awareness and control. Working on agility helps you with both of these things. Knowing where your body is, where it’s going next, and how it’s going to get there are important – but don’t expect to be able to actually think about all of those things at once while in the midst of a workout! As you train agility through acceleration, deceleration, changing directions, etc. your body will figure these things out on its own. As a result, you’re more able to handle the “unexpected” instances that come up in life, like catching your kid when you see them about to fall out of the corner of your eye. Or navigating a slippery sidewalk without a bruised tailbone.
Secondly, agility helps with injury prevention. In CrossFit, we perform workouts at a high intensity. If your body is unable to figure out where it should be and the proper movement pattern to get itself there, your likelihood of injury increases significantly. This is why we learn movements slowly at first, then add speed, then add load. It is also why we work on agility. The more agile you are, the more quickly you master the technique – which is the prerequisite for EVERYTHING. Subsequently, you’re able to start adding load sooner, and thus you’re able to see the gains of your hard work more rapidly. Without agility, you’re hanging out in the “learning” phase for longer (which is OK!) until you get your form to a point where the risk of injury is very low.
When we work on agility drills (hint: we do all the time, they’re just not always called “agility drills”) focus on what your body is doing. If you’re halfway through the ladder today and still don’t have the footwork mastered, slow down and make it happen correctly. Then gradually add speed. It’s worth it. Our bodies are incredible machines, and with a little training they can do amazing things!