As usual we start with elaborating on terminology in order to get a clear understanding.
From a sport science perspective there seems to be a debate about the definition of agility (15) - see references below and somehow for change of direction (COD) as well. “Quickness” and “cutting” are words that were also be found in the literature (1) with regard to agility and change of direction. Therefore we feel we need to define the two terms first before we go into testing.
The difference between the two was seen that change of direction (pre-planned and therefore a close-skill) was thought to be part of agility. Agility itself on the other hand incorporates perceptual and decision-making processes and can be seen as a response to a stimulus and therefore as an open skill (and not pre-planned) (4).
Why is that important?
Depending on the goal, testing and training (for agility) needs to incorporate the two mentioned things (perception and decision-making), or not (for COD).
Brughelli et al. (4) elaborated on the qualities of change of direction. The factors were:
As it can be observed at least the first three components are very important and trainable and therefore important to test.
First we want to describe “common tests” and discuss their suitability for football.
Due to the amount and diversity of different COD tests, we pre-grouped them into
A) forward and cutting COD test
B) multi-movement/directional tests
The tests outlined are similar (more or less) evaluating acceleration, deceleration and cutting ability. Differences between those tests are angle of cutting and distances to accelerate/decelerate.
However, the zig-zag tests also showed reliability when using/dribbling a football (meaning assessing dribbling agility). Therefore, those tests can/should be preferred. Additionally, comparisons with and without dribbling a ball are possible as well.
The two multipurpose tests included different movements (like shuffle sideways, running backwards) besides acceleration and deceleration and therefore seemed to be more soccer specific. Especially the “New COD test for team sport” proposed by Rumpf et al. (13) seemed to incorporate many football specific movements.
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