The best strength coaches in the world scoff at the idea that agility ladder drills can actually improve one’s agility. “The patterns are preprogrammed, so they lack the reactive component of real agility and change of direction,” says Michael Boyle, MA, ATC, strength and conditioning consultant for the Boston Red Sox and founder of StrengthCoach.com.
The best way to improve agility, he continues, is through sports practice against an opponent, so there is a component of unpredictability. In addition, Boyle recommends improving your single-leg strength, with a focus on acceleration and deceleration.
So should you toss your ladder entirely? Nope. “Agility ladders are a great multidirectional warm-up,” Boyle says. “We include them twice a week.”
Personally, I love doing agility-ladder drills as a component of conditioning, so I include them in circuits, from time to time. This one I call “Ladder Lunacy” — you’ll see why [insert maniacal laugh here].
Pro Tip: If you don’t have an agility ladder, draw one onto the sidewalk or driveway with chalk.
LADDER LUNACY: A BODY-WEIGHT WORKOUT
Perform as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the following circuit in 10 minutes. Rest as often as needed.
-Ladder Drill: Ickey Shuffle (down and back)
-Ladder Drill: Boogie Woogie (down and back)
-10 Jump Squats
-Ladder Drill: Sideways Skedaddle (down and back; change lead leg on way back)
-10/10 (each side) T-Spine Rolls
-Ladder Drill: “Ladderal” High-Step (down and back; change lead leg on way back)
-10/10 (each side) Lateral Lunges
-Ladder Drill: Pogo Hops (down and back)
-10/10 Knee-to-Elbow Planks
Check out the video for exercise demonstrations for each drill.
[photo at top by www.jalbusphoto.com]