MMA Success - Part Six!

How can you improve your quickness for MMA? What drills do you need to perform? Find out here ...


Quickness - Rapid reaction and movement time in response to a given stimulus.

Keep in mind there is an overlap between agility and quickness training as numerous drills promote both of these qualities, but we can categorize them accordingly. Quickness can be thought of as the first phase of speed. Speed as it relates to combat sports particularly refers to a measurement of distance reached in a specified amount of time.

Speed of movement or displacement is a function of quickness, reactive ability, endurance, strength, and skill to coordinate one's movements in response to the external conditions under which the motor task is to be executed (Siff 2000).

An athlete can possess good speed while lacking in quickness. An example would be an athlete who punches a bag with fast hands, but appears slow when throwing punches sparring. This is usually a case of slow reaction time and a tight non-relaxed body.

In training to enhance quickness I incorporate a variety of drills into my regimens. These drills include reaction drills, quick hand and quick feet drills. The main emphasis is instant reaction and movement.

The drills are usually short in duration 6-8 seconds. The majority of the time quickness drills are performed before strength training or endurance training. If the goal is to enhance quickness endurance they are performed after the strength training session for 10-16 seconds.

This rehearsal helps to reinforce qualities of being fatigued at the end of the bout and still being able to execute quick movements. A good base of quickness is established before moving onto quickness endurance drills. The frequency of quickness training varies accordingly.

Additional Information Concerning Quickness

  • Reaction Time - Refers to the time interval between stimulus and initiation of movement (Siff 2000).

  • Movement Time - Is the interval from the end of the reaction phase to the end of the movement (from beginning to end of movement) (Siff 2000).

  • It has been shown that the ability to catch, strike or block rapidly moving objects depends strongly on one's ability to accurately anticipate the trajectory of the projectile rather than on rapid reaction time alone (Siff 2000).

  • In boxing the rate of movement is directly related to breathing rhythm and the boxer's ability to control his rhythm (Verkhoshansky 1996).

  • Excitability of the nervous system is a key quality in determining speed of movement and quickness. It has been shown that people with high excitability of the nervous system display great speed of movement and quickness (Gorazahanim, 1977; Sultanov, 1979; Ilin & Malchikov, 1979; Tabachnik et al, 1978)

Below I have listed some quickness drills that are used in MaxCondition Quickness Training.

Quickness Drills

Quick Hand Tap Reaction:

I developed this drill after I was contacted by a college strength and conditioning coach about providing some quick hand drills for offensive linemen. Since then I have used the drill with athletes from numerous sports.

The drill is made up of four sequences:

  1. Two athletes face each other. Athlete A holds hands in front of body while assuming the athletic position. Now athlete B holds hands behind the back. Athlete B then flashes a hand and athlete A quickly taps the hand with the mirror hand. Athlete A must return the hand to the starting position as quick as possible.

  2. Athlete taps hand with the crossover hand.

  3. Athlete B flashes two hands and athlete A taps both hands simultaneously.

  4. Athlete B flashes one or two hands whichever he or she chooses. Once the hands are flashed they are also removed quickly. Athlete A touches the hands anyway possible.

This sequence is difficult and requires great reaction time by the athlete. Remember once the athlete shows the hands they are then quickly removed. Each sequence is performed for 8 contacts then you move on to the next sequence.

Sprawl, Roll & Stand:

Athlete stands in an athletic position. When signaled the athlete drops sprawls and rolls to one side. Once the roll is completed the athlete stands quickly back to the starting position.

Alternate the side rolled to with each repetition. Four to six reps make up one set. I like to use a hand clap to signal the sprawl, but you can use any cue you would like.

Quick Hop Box Turns:

Athlete stands facing a 6-8 inch box. Now athlete quickly hops onto the box. Next, the athlete steps off the box while performing a 180-degree turn in the air before landing on the ground.

As soon as the athlete touches the ground they rebound and hop back on the box. The movement is performed for 8-seconds. This is a great movement for rotational quickness, body awareness and reactive strength

Crossover Hands:

Begin by placing your hands on top of a weight plate in a top-pushup position. Next, move off the weight plate moving to the left with the left hand. The right hand follows as it leaves the plate.

Now, move back on to the weight plate with the right hand followed by the left. Moving to the right, perform the same pattern of movements. Concentrate on pushing laterally as you move side to side with the hands. Perform this exercise for 8-seconds.

The information provided above is an excerpt from Jamie Hale's new book MaxCondition.

About Coach Hale

Coach Hale is the owner of Total Body Fitness, Winchester Golden Gloves Boxing and MaxCondition Sports Conditioning. He designs comprehensive training programs for coaches and athletes worldwide. He is the author of Optimum Physique and contributor to numerous exercise and sports publications. Coach Hale is an official member of The World Martial Arts Hall of Fame in recognition of his strength and conditioning work with martial artists. He also serves as vice-chairman for the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. To learn more about coach Hale visit his website at