Ways to use your agility ladder

Posted on: October 25th, 2019 | by Laura Murdoch | No Comments

An agility ladder might seem like a simple piece of training equipment but it can play a vital role in getting your football team ready for their next match. For one thing, it’s inexpensive and really easy to use. Just roll it out and you’re ready to go. An agility ladder is also very versatile. You can utilise it on its own or incorporate it into bigger training exercises. Footwork is the key to becoming a successful football player so it’s important to work on it constantly.  An agility ladder can help. In fact, there are plenty of great benefits from this one piece of equipment.

What are the benefits?

A training ladder can help your players improve in 3 key areas:

  1. Speed – their ability to move in one direction as quickly as possible.
  2. Agility – their ability to accelerate, decelerate, stabilise, and change direction.
  3. Quickness – the reaction time of the body to make a move.

These are all important skills to focus on in training and a few well-designed agility ladder drills can build these areas.

As well as these main three, a ladder is great for strengthening joints, ligaments and tendons. It is also a great form of cardio and will get your heart pumping. This would make it a great piece of equipment to use in your warm-up.

A final benefit of an agility ladder is helping players stay mentally sharp. It aids with focus and concentration. Using one in your training will help improve the mind-body connection. This is the key to getting to the top of your game.

Basics

The key to using an agility ladder is repetition. This is what you need to train your brain. Start with the basics and get them perfected. You can’t expect quick results when it comes to improving speed, agility, and quickness. Doing something correctly is just as important as being fast. Concentrate on getting your form right before you start worrying about getting it done quickly. Once you have it spot on, you can speed things up and ramp up the difficulty.

Form

When running ladder drills, it is important to make sure your posture is correct. It can be easy for a player to look down at their feet. After a few practice runs, players should be discouraged from looking down to maintain the correct upper-body posture. The following guidelines should also be followed to ensure the correct posture:

  • Push off the balls of your feet.
  • Pump your hands from shoulder height to hips.
  • Keep your elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Keep your body relaxed.
  • Keep your body straight.

If you want to make the most out of your training sessions, your form must be correct.

Warm-Up

The main aim of a training session warm-up is to increase your heart rate and improve your reaction time. The traditional approach might be tor run laps. An agility ladder can offer a more interesting method of warming up. Using one will accomplish everything that you need to achieve in your warm-up. Whether you simply get players to run, hop, or jump along the ladder or add in some lateral movements, a few run-throughs on the agility ladder will make sure your players are ready to go.

  • One step run:

Run down the length of the ladder as quickly as you can. Place one foot in each square and keep going until you reach the end.

  • Simple hops:

As easy as it sounds. All you need to do is hop down the length of the ladder. Hop into each square or go for a longer jump. Mix up the difficulty slightly by adding in a backwards hop after every two forward hops.

  • Zig Zag Hops:

Hop down the length of the ladder. Start by hopping into the square then jump to the side. Hope back into the ladder and then hop to the other side. Keep alternating this pattern until you reach the end.

  • Lateral hops:

Lateral movement is an important skill to develop. Hopping down the ladder sideways can help build your balance because it isn’t a natural way to move. You need to concentrate on your form and how you position your body.

  • Lateral in and out hops:

Stand outside the agility ladder and position yourself parallel to it. Hop into the first square and then back out again. Keep going in and out as you move down the ladder. Once you get used to the movement, try and get faster.

  • In and out straddle hop:

Start off facing down the ladder. Jump into the first square with both feet. Then jump out so each foot lands on either side of the ladder. Keep working your way down the ladder.

There are plenty of different ways to use an agility ladder in your football training. For more ideas on how to warm up with an agility ladder, check out this video.

Drills

There are plenty of possible training drills to try out with your team and deciding what to do depends on what you want to achieve. We’ve picked a few of our favourites to give you an idea.

  • Carioca:

This is a classic agility ladder exercise and is great for football players as it helps with hip mobility. Stand to the side of the ladder facing forward. Leading with your left leg, step into the first square. With your right foot, step behind the left into the next square. Move your left leg into the third square and bring your right foot in front of your left into the fourth. As you move down the ladder, alternate passing your right foot in front of or behind the left. Once finished, perform again whilst using your right foot as the lead.

To see the drill being performed, check out this video.

  • Centipede:

This move combines lateral movement with forward and backward movement. It is a drill focused on improving agility. Stand to the side of the ladder and lead with your left leg. Step into the first square, then your right leg. Take a lateral step into the next square starting with your left and followed by your right. Step backwards with your left and then your right leg so you are standing outside the ladder. Repeat these moves until you make it down the whole of the ladder. Then repeat the drill with your right leg leading.

See an example of the centipede in this video.

  • Fast Feet:

If you’re looking to improve your feet speed, an agility ladder is a great place to start. This drill is one of the simplest to do but it is important to get form right as well as speed. Make your way down the ladder as fast as possible whilst making sure both feet land in each square. The drill forces you to take quick steps and you’ll need to concentrate on where your feet are landing.

Check out the drill being performed in this video.

  • Crossover Fast Feet:

This is great if you want to up the difficulty of fast feet and test your agility. Moving laterally down the ladder, get down the ladder as quickly as possible whilst making sure to cross your right leg over your left. Make sure that both feet land in each square.

  • Hip Switch:

Hip mobility is something every player should be thinking about and performing hip switches is a great way to help this. It’s also really simple to do. Stand to the side of the ladder with your left foot inside the first square. Turn your hips and hope so that your right and left feet switch places. Hop again so that your left foot lands in the next square. Carry on alternating your feet position down the full length of the ladder. When you reach the end, return but leading with your right foot.

Check out this video to see a hip switch in action.

Of course, there are plenty of fantastic ways to utilise an agility ladder in your football training. We’ve offered a few good starting points. For more ideas check out King Sports Training.

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