I’m a big a believer in sprinting and sprint variation when it comes to conditioning and training the body for performance. In my experience the key to any successful strength and conditioning program involves moving with intention and purpose. As far as fine tuning the gait movement and working towards building on the skills of coordination and reaction time the agility ladder can be a valuable tool for us to employ to achieve this end.
When it comes to utilizing the agility ladder for optimal benefit there are a few things to consider. First, as a tool to develop performance speed and agility I always emphasize performing movements in the ladder with focus and purpose.
Secondly, I’ve witnessed many people neglect this element of training when utilizing the agility ladder and as a result many drills become more about generating “fatigue.” As a result the emphasis is now shifted from performance to just “finishing” simply because the trainee is viewing the drill as a workout…and not as a progressive effort to get faster and more agile. “Working Out” is one thing, but training with intent and purpose is a different thing altogether.
If we are performing speed and agility drills in order to be quick and to develop speed then the drills must be performed with speed and quickness. Sounds like an obvious statement, but for some reason this is commonly not always applied with many that utilize the agility ladder.
Speed And Quickness Drills
In order hone the skills of speed and agility I want to provide some solid drills here on the agility ladder to help us to focus on the basics. These three drills are a great “bread and butter” start to help hone the coordination, speed, and technique of a trainee getting started on the agility ladder.
Linear High Knee Runs
The linear high knee runs involve running in a straight line sprinting gait down the ladder. As demonstrated here in this video I want to perform this drill with one leg in the agility ladder and one leg out of it.
With the leg that’s inside the ladder the emphasis should be to strike each square of the ladder with that foot without skipping squares. The emphasis of speed should be placed on elbow drive (forward and back) and knee drive (up and down) instead of placing the speed on forward momentum getting from one end of the ladder to the other with speed.
Once a run is completed with one leg down the ladder turn around and go the other direction with the opposite leg in the ladder. Once a run is completed with each leg in the ladder that is considered a single repetition. Allow for just enough recovery after each run to repeat the next run with the same level of effort and intensity until the desired number of reps is completed.
Lateral High Knee Runs
Lateral high knee runs involve running down the ladder facing one direction so the body is advancing laterally down the ladder. To execute this drill I want to lead into the square of the ladder with the foot that is closest to the ladder.
To clarify as seen in the video I’m facing so that I will be advancing down the ladder to my righthand side. Because of this I will lead into the first square of the ladder with my right foot followed by my left foot. Each leg strikes every square down the ladder.
Once a run is completed advancing to my right I want to maintain facing the same direction and advance to my left coming back down the ladder in the opposite direction. Once again we want to emphasize elbow drive (front and back) and knee drive (up and down) when executing each run to optimize speed.
Once a run is completed in both directions a single repetition is counted. As stated before allow for just enough recovery to perform each subsequent repetition with as much effort and intensity as the previous run.
Double To Single Foot Hop
Double to single leg foot hops are great for coordination and quickness. This drill involves jumping into the first square of the ladder with both feet. Once both feet make contact with the first square the objective is to then jump out of that square and land with one foot outside the next square in line.
It’s important to note that only one foot lands on the ground just outside the agility ladder. Continue this hopping pattern alternating between the left and right foot landing outside the ladder after each double foot hop.
Once a run is completed in both directions on the ladder a single repetition is counted. Here we want to focus on getting used to the pattern first and then shift the focus onto speeding up the tempo of the drill. I recommend performing 4 to 6 runs in a sequence along with the other two drills mentioned here on conditioning days.
The agility ladder is a tremendous conditioning tool to elevate your cardiovascular fitness and athletic conditioning. Also it should be stated that this style of training is scalable and drills can be intensified by increasing repetitions, or by loading to perform the drills with a weighted vest as I demonstrated in the last two videos.