How to measure agility in rehabilitation
By Eric Leach, DPT
Basketball, hockey, lacrosse, football, and soccer all share a common demand for athletes to react swiftly, navigate around opponents, and outmaneuver the defense to score successfully. This skill is commonly referred to as agility. But in the realm of rehabilitation, how do we measure and define agility? How can we determine when an athlete is prepared for the challenges of their sport? In this blog post, we will explore the components of agility and discuss how we measure each one to ensure our athletes are ready for their sport upon discharge.
Components of Agility
Agility, often perceived as the ability to move swiftly in a sport, is actually broken down into three components: Speed, Change of Direction, and Agility.
- Speed: The capacity to move from point A to point B as swiftly as possible, typically in a straight line.
- Change of Direction: The ability to make quick turns at varying angles, ranging from 10 to 180 degrees.
- Agility: The ability to change direction and make turns in response to external stimuli. This distinction is crucial in sports rehabilitation, emphasizing the importance of training in a designated course and reacting to other players.
By defining these three components, we can now delve into how we measure each of these components in a rehab setting.
Speed training in rehabilitation focuses on enhancing an athlete’s impulse, increasing the force produced by their foot contact in the shortest time possible. This is achieved through a combination of sprint and jump training. Speed is assessed considering acceleration and maximum speed.
- Straight-line sprint test: Measures the time it takes to cover distances of 10, 20, and 40 meters. This helps evaluate acceleration (shorter distances) and maximum speed (longer distances).
Change of Direction
Change of direction training involves a variety of sport-specific running drills, typically using cones to mark the athlete’s course. Tests such as the 505 Agility test, T-test, and Pro Agility test are employed to evaluate an athlete’s performance and compare it to normative data for their sport, ensuring readiness for a return to sport.
- 505 Agility Test: Measures the time it takes for an athlete to run forward 5 meters, turn 180 degrees, and return to the starting line. A time of 2.51 seconds ± .15 indicates readiness for a return to sport.
T-Test: Assesses an athlete’s ability to turn in all directions, side shuffle, backpedal, and sprint forward. A score between 10.5-11.5 for men and 11.5-12.5 for women indicates readiness for a return to sport.
Pro Agility Test: Involves sprinting to either side and returning to the middle. A score of 4.67 ± 0.21 seconds for men and 5.23 ± 0.25 seconds for women indicates readiness for a return to sport.
While the above tests effectively assess an athlete’s ability to change direction, evaluating an athlete’s decision-making process and response to external stimuli is equally crucial. To address this, we use two tests:
Stop’n’Go Reactive Agility Test: Involves an athlete running a short distance and reacting to a light from one of four cones, touching the lit cone and returning to the start line. Completion within 10-12 seconds is the target.
Y-Shaped Agility Test: Requires athletes to run through a gate and respond based on illuminated lights or called-out colors. Participants should score within 90% of each side, completing the test in 2-3 seconds.
In the treatment of athletes, we meticulously measure all aspects of their performance, including mechanics for changing direction, to enhance overall scores. Upon successfully completing our testing regimen, we believe athletes are better equipped to prevent future injuries and re-enter their season at a competitive level. If you’re interested in working with Peak to overcome an injury and get back to playing the sports you love, you can book an appointment at Peak Performance.