Working Lateral Movement for Agility

By Diane Vives, M.S., C.S.C.S., N.S.C.A.-C.P.T. – November 1, 2014
Photo by Brian Fitzsimmons

This month, Diane Vives is at Fuerte Fitness with trainer Coy Schneider. The focus of this series of movements is on building good agility. To develop agility, Vives explains that it’s important to work on change of direction strength, which then builds into reactions, quickness, and decision-making skills in movements.

Strength is the base for change of direction, and a lot of that entails lateral movements. It’s often left out of training, which is why these particular movements are great to incorporate into circuits.  The movements take basic components and add variations, starting with a lateral squat and then adding side movement (lateral lunge), extension (lateral power shuffle), and a driving motion (skaters with drive-and-stick motion).  

Start with two to four sets twice a week, building to four over four weeks. Each set includes 24 reps of each movement. End with six reps of each movement as a power endurance move to finish. These combined movements create a great metabolic circuit in addition to enhancing change of direction.

Lateral Movement Variations

Why: to develop strength necessary for improving agility 
What You Need: A step or box (for lateral power shuffle movement only)

Lateral Squat

Starting Position
-Standing upright with tall posture, wide stance, toes forward, sit back into hips
-Arms in prisoner position

-Keeping one leg straight, lean toward the alternate side as that knee bends
-Alternate from side to side, making sure to sit back on hips for every repetition
-Return to a tall, standing position between each left and right lunge
-Maintain proper arm position, which encourages lat expansion

Lateral Lunge

Mechanics are very similar to lateral squat but stepping movement is added, which exaggerates the deceleration position 
Starting Position:
-Standing upright with tall posture, feet hip-width apart
-Arms in prisoner position 

-Step the right foot out to the right side while sitting back into hips; the right knee will bend while the left leg stays straight
-Maintain a forward position on the toes while using the inside edge of the shoe
-Return to starting position with chest up, eyes forward, arms in position
-Step to the left, repeating the movements previously performed 


Lateral Power Shuffle

Instead of emphasizing the outside foot as in the lateral lunge, the step-based leg is the method for producing force, and a leap with extension has been added

What You Need: 
step or box

Starting Position:
-Standing in a tall posture, place the left foot flat on the top of the box; there will be a bend in the left knee, and the right leg is straight
-The right foot is parallel to the box on the ground
-Arms hang loosely at each side

-Leap upward as arms swing up overhead to perform a shift in foot placement
-The left foot moves to the ground on the left side of the box as the right foot takes its place on top of the box
-The right leg is now bent, while the left leg is planted with the left foot on the floor
-In the middle of the flip, arms should be held overhead with the body in full extension as you drive laterally


Skaters with Drive-and-Stick Motion 

Starting Position: 

-Place the right foot flat on the floor; lift the left foot upward, to that there is a slight bend in the knee, and balance
-Lean forward, so that the chest faces the floor
-Arms are positioned so that the right arm is behind the body and the left arm ahead of the body, each slightly bent with hands relaxed and open 


-Drive laterally, taking a wide leap onto the opposite single leg stance while arms shift position
-Maintain a forward position with the toes, chest up, eyes forward
-Hands should drive laterally right across belt line, driving lateral movement (no upward movement)


Related Articles

September 1, 2023
September 1, 2023
Learn More