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SAQ develops drills to help you improve your speed, agility and quickness. Drills are sport specific and should by definition be short and repetitive. Most drills only last 2-10 seconds with 20 second rest periods. The power of the drill is in the repetition. Having the right equipment is essential to helping you with the exercises, the good news being that it's not particularly expensive!
SAQ is an acronym for Speed, Agility and Quickness. Originating in the USA in the 1980’s, where it was used by American football coaches, it is now accepted around the world as a great training tool for a variety of different sports. But what is meant by speed, agility and quickness?
Essentially speed is defined as the maximum velocity you can reach. For most of us this translates as how fast you can run over a short distance. To improve speed involves improving your running style, looking at areas like your stride pattern and your arms.
Agility is defined as the ability to change direction without losing strength or speed, or better still without falling over! Think about a rugby game and there you will see athletes constantly having to change direction, to be agile over the course of the game.
May be self-explanatory but this is all about acceleration, how fast you can go from being stationary to motion. This action requires your muscles to lengthen and then shorten simultaneously.
SAQ will help you in sports that require you to be quick and change direction a lot-think football, tennis and hockey. By practising SAQ you will develop high aerobic capacity, develop sprinting ability and build up your muscle strength and endurance. In addition, people who practice SAQ also say they develop better visual awareness, hand eye coordination and manual dexterity.
There are a number of pieces of equipment that will help you in SAQ drills Here we look at some of the most popular-hurdles, agility poles, cones and ladders.
Micro hurdles are incredibly flexible in how they can be used in SAQ. They can for example be used for lateral step over, crossover step, lateral jumping over with 180 degree turn, bounding on 1 leg and the box drill where 4 hurdles are joined together to create a box shape. In fact the hurdles can be used for linear drills, lateral drills and jumping. However used they will improve your sprinting and acceleration ability.
When purchasing mini hurdles check out the sizes, many are 6, 9 or 12” high. Some offer adjustable heights which can be useful to alter your drills. Check that the hurdles remain static and so are well weighted, of a sturdy construction, will keep their shape and easy to clean. Bright colours are also useful for your eyes to adjust to the drill.
Agility poles are a great tool to develop your agility, your ability to alter your direction without losing speed. The number of drills that can be performed are limitless but here are a few firm favourites. The most common is to simply line your poles up in a straight line, the drill is then to weave in and out of the poles and then sprint back to the start. If you have enough poles you can also place them in 2 rows and weave in and out the 2 rows. You can work on lateral movement by shuffling around then side to side and by running forwards and even backwards. The overriding purpose is to get your body to change direction with ease without losing power and motion.
When purchasing agility poles look for a set that will enable you to practice the drills described above. Make sure they can easily be secured in the ground and can withstand the outside weather conditions. They should be easy to clean and store.
Cones can also be a great way to develop your speed and agility. As with the poles there are a number of great drills that cones can assist with. For example you can set cones in a snake pattern about 5 yards apart. Sprinting around the outside of each cone, touching the top of each cone as you pass. Another effective drill is to set your cones in two lines about 5 yards apart and then sprint diagonally across the lines.
When you are purchasing cones try to buy a pack with a good number of cones in it so that you can create interesting drills like those above. Check they are made from pliable PVC as this will make them durable which helps with outside drills. In addition, different colours can also help and those that have a weighted base can be a good idea.
An essential piece of kit for SAQ training. Simply place down on the ground and the list of drills that can be performed is huge. One of the most basic drills is the linear hop. This involves you simply jumping along the inside of the ladder with both feet together. Then there is the lateral snake, where you zig zag across the ladder. You can simply run along the ladder as quickly as you can without touching the rungs of the ladder and you can then do this but with one leg outside the ladder whilst one remains inside.
Good agility ladders will attach to the ground, so the ladder shouldn’t move easily. Look for one which will be about 15 ft. long and with heavy duty rungs that will withstand your drill. Some ladders will also come with adjustable rungs which again will allow you to be more inventive with the drills you do.
The above equipment will enable you to work through most SAQ drills. In addition to the equipment mentioned you may also, particularly if you are working in a group or have a training partner, want to purchase a whistle. flag and also a stopwatch.