Speed,Agility & Reaction Time Overview
Speed, Agility and Reaction Time are very important for general athleticism and development in a sporting arena. Children who get involved in sport are far more likely to live healthier, happier lives with more energy and a positive outlook on life. And even if your child chooses not to get involved in sport, these three attributes can help in general fitness or injury prevention anyway. Just running quickly to catch the last bus home instead of having to walk is an example of where this could come in useful for a teenager.
If you want to improve your child's self confidence or esteem, sport is a great place to start. But to be good at many sports you need to be agile, have good reactions and there are obvious benefits to being quicker too.
See our FITNESS OVERVIEW article for a breakdown of the benefits of getting fit.
What is Speed?
Speed is the ability to move quickly, usually over a short distance. This need not necessarily be in a straight line.
What is Agility?
Agility is the ability to quickly and efficiently change your body position.
What is Reaction Time?
Reaction Time is the ability to quickly respond to a stimulus.
Tips to Improve Children's Speed, Agility and Reaction Times
- Start slowly if you are looking to improve your child's skills. Rome was not built in a day. Doing it slowly at first allows the correct technique to be learnt. Starting quickly at the beginning will tend to promote bad posture and result in probable injury
- Drills in the form of games (see the videos below) are an excellent way to teach these skills but don't teach 5 new ones in a day. Let children get good at one before introducing another
- Make sure rest days are taken after any speed and agility training. The body must be given time to recover.
- You must adhere to classic training principles (make sure they are in good health first, check proper form consider ability and fitness of the child, start VERY slowly and GRADUALLY move up, always warm up and cool down etc.)
- For speed training make sure your child's natural mechanics are correct first or the child could easily get injured. Proper form will always help speed and reduce injury potential. If you don't feel happy to check this yourself, consult a sports coach. Three key things to look out are described by Steve Daisey at www.senecapt.com :
- Running Angle
- Arm movements
- Core Strength
- If you are training your child for a sport, watch a game of that sport and jot down the movements you can see. Break them down and list them out into separate movements. Then train on each movement you see, bearing in mind the comments above.
For specific exercises , see our article 'SPEED, AGILITY AND REACTION TIME EXERCISES'