Agility Training for MMA

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A lot of times when you hear the word agility you think of ladder drills and cones. Every video of “agility training” has had someone in it doing some crazy footwork drills on a ladder, perfectly set cones, and hurdles. Although it may look impressive, this may not carry over into a live setting. When trying to improve on agility for MMA, you must focus on the footwork and movement of the sport itself. Sports specific agility or rather MMA agility has to be identified as such when practicing. This is something that must be done in order to properly improve real agility for MMA.

What is Agility?

Agility by definition is the ability to be quick and graceful. This will lead into better coordination and speed of covering distance. Having agility is vital when trying to become a better athlete and overall fighter. Training proper agility can take your movement in the cage to another level. Change of direction speed and mobility must be present in order to have optimal performance.

How to train agility for MMA!

First and foremost you must breakdown the style you have as a fighter. Are you a long range striker or are you a mid range puncher. Do you have wrestling ability and knockout power or are you quick with your hands and like to utilize your jab. All of these styles come into play when properly programing specific agility work for you as an individual. You can see my breakdown of agility work, with striking styles, in my co-authored piece with Paulie Gavoni called “Style Specific Training”.

How frequent do you train agility?

For my fighters, we meet two or three times per week, and every session begins with some agility training. Agility is anaerobic in nature, so work time should be no longer than ten seconds. Using agility in the beginning of training can not only improve your movement, but will wake up the central nervous system enabling better output. Start off by practicing 1-2 days per week for three weeks, then increase frequency to three days per week. This will be sustained over time.

Agility is a misunderstood modality in the strength and conditioning world. Programming, proper, specific agility to the style of fighter is most important. Ladder drills and cones can be useful tools, but utilize it with movement imitating your fighting footwork. You can also use agility with hand speed as well as utilize tennis ball reaction drills, to help with agility for punching speed. Please stay away from useless movements and non sport specific footwork drills. This will not improve your specific agility and will aid in developing faulty movement patterns. I’ve used this approach for all of my fighters and athletes and have seen tremendous results. Do not get stuck trying to do the interesting things you see on videos, do what works for you. Train smart, train hard!

Phil Daru

  • MMA Strength & Conditioning Specialist
  • American Top Team Physical Preparation Coach
  • Sports Medicine, Exercise Science Degrees
  • FMS Certified Member
  • Former Professional MMA Fighter

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Phil Daru is a former Division 1 football player for Alabama State University, where he recieves undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and later a Sports Medicine degree from Keiser University. After college Phil began a career as a professional MMA fighter with American Top Team for 8 years, where he also began training athletes and fighters while pursuing a career as a fighter. Now 28 years old Phil has competed in Strongman, bodybuilding, and now an active competitive Powerlifter. Daru has worked with and continue to work with a number of top fighters such as King Mo Lawal, Tecia Torres, Amanda Nunes, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Daniel Strouse, Cole Miller, and many more. Daru is a dedicated and strong minded individual with determination to help others and to help educate and inform others on become stronger!

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