GAINcast Episode 257: Rethinking agility (with Bill Knowles)

The debate about the transfer of change of direction and agility training is a bit like the debate about general and specific training. Specificity is a critical factor, but not all general training is the same. And specific training can also be counterproductive if you don’t understand what you’re training for. On this weeks GAINcast, Bill Knowles joins us to discuss how he sees the spectrum of agility training and how a purposeful approach can improve performance all along the spectrum.

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Notes and quotes

Knowles the founder of Knowles Athletic, where is a world leader in reconditioning, working with top professional athletes from around the world. He honed his skills working as an athletic trainer and athletic development coach in skiing for over 20 years, as well as extensive work with the Philadelphia Union Academy in soccer.

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 3:00 – Knowles perspectives on game speed and agility: “Ladders or cones force you into a confined space. I need athletes to more cognitively see the game and see the space, not the cones.”
  • 8:00 – Repetition: “How many times do you cut right and left 8 times in a row in any sport? If you do a few cuts and go then athletes are more interested in going game speed. Then it is game relevant.”
  • 9:30 – Thoughts on warmups and progressions.
  • 11:45 – Deceleration training: “A lot of deceleration training is artificial braking. It is just stopping, sitting, and dropping deep. Where can you go from there? Deceleration has to be contextual. What’s the next play?”
  • 19:00 – Bodyweight training and coordination: “If you don’t know how to coordinate an action, external load won’t teach you, it’ll just force the movement. It’s not asking you what you can do, it’s telling you what you have to do.”
  • 24:45 – Agility with and without the ball.
  • 27:45 – General agility training and transfer: “Just like the strongest aren’t the best, those best at general change of direction skills aren’t the best in the game. But just like best are still all strong, and the best can all master those basics of COD.” “General agility training needs to be done with purpose. What shapes do you need to be able to make? Are your drills even training those shapes?”
  • 30:00 – Teaching and instructing.
  • 32:45 – Foot and ankle stiffness.
  • 34:15 – A youth rehab case study.

To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.

Further reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic: