Anatomy of Agility: Book Review

Rich Clarke

I’ve finally got round to getting through it! In fact, I’ve been through it twice. Once you read my thoughts, reach out on Twitter and let me know what you thought if you’ve read it. I come at this from my perspective where I combine research, teaching and coaching practice day to day, love the detail but also believe in good pedagogical dissemination.

Overall, the content is super thought provoking and detailed, which is something I love in a book. Hence why I’ve read it twice. I really enjoyed it and took a lot from it. If you are a lover of the detail and a bit of a movement geek too, get it. It is well worth the investment and can change how you look at athletic movement. The book goes all the way from underlying theory of motor control to practical examples of movement analysis and attractor identification. It isn’t ‘agility’ only, more general high intensity sports movement. Examples in there from plenty of different activities.

However… it’s not for the feint hearted, as it is far from an easy read! I consider myself a relatively well educated dude who is very used to academic jargon and decoding things. I publish, review papers and disseminate work for part of my living. I have come to expect jargon and difficult reading from peer-reviewed literature (it’s still annoying). But I expect it less from an applied book.

This leads me to one key question. Who is the book is really for?

People who understand the motor control space are less likely to need it, and a lot of normal coaches will just never get through it. If you aren’t expecting a casual read for a sunday afternoon, then all good. Get it, and slowly work through it overtime.

I do find the language and clarity barrier a little frustrating though. There are great concepts in the book that can have huge impacts into how people practice and view movement skill acquisition. Especially S&C’s who will have their general perceptions challenged. But we need to find a way to disseminate this better.

As an example, you know you are in for a long ride when this sentence greets you on about page 2 of Chapter 1. Which by the way, is just a convenient one I pulled out.

“Thus, dexterity does not mean a single correct execution of a movement, but an underlying abstract and mathematically complex organisation that is necessary for the adaptive design of a movement, with the emphasis on adaptive”

In normal terms: Dexterity is about being adaptable and having multiple useful solutions to movement challenges.

I just feel like we need a more digestible and applied version of this for coaches. I hate jargon at the best of times, and in the agility area the jargon here is combined with the jargon from all other areas such as Ecological Dynamics and 3D Biomechanics. It’s no wonder people resort to ‘just get them strong’.

So, having a love for education and research dissemination for practical impact, here is my plan:

I am going to summarise both Anatomy of Agility and in Strength Training for Coordination into a more simplified and practically digestible resource. I’ll include my own thouhgts, interpretations and critical view on things as someone who doesnt subscribe to any particular methodology. I’ll hopefully have this done as a mini book towards the end of the summer. There is too much useful content here for it to go to waste.

If you are interested in keeping an eye on when this is done, sign up to the email list and I’ll keep you posted.

Right now, AoA gets a 4 star (maybe 3.8…) recommendation from me if you are a general sports practitioner. But if judged on the concepts and potential alone, it’s worth more than that. It just needs to be translated to ‘an idiots guide’ Pick it up here in order to make your own mind up.


Rich is the founder of Strength Coach Curriculums and an S&C coach who specialised in multi-directional speed. He runs the S&C provision for Bristol Flyers Basketball and consults with clubs across the globe while also leading the MSc programme at the University of South Wales