Ladder agility drills provide excellent speed training and help develop speed and coordination. The agility ladder is laid out on the floor, so that the athlete can run, step, jump or hop between the rungs or to either side, depending on the drill. Simple ladder agility drills include the hopscotch drill, bunny hops, zig zags and high knee runs.
Agility ladders are made from fabric or plastic, outlining a series of squares. In the absence of an agility ladder, lines can be drawn on the floor for ladder agility drills in the way that a child might draw for hopscotch, and chalk lines would prevent potential trips. Athletes, however, are more likely to notice stepping on a nylon strap than a chalk line and are more likely to perform the ladder agility drills correctly.
To perform the hopscotch drill, the athlete should begin at one end of the ladder with feet shoulder-width apart. The athlete hops into the first square, landing on the ball of the left foot. He or she then springs to the next square, landing on the balls of both feet. The athlete lands on the ball of the right foot in the third square, then the balls of both feet again in the forth and repeats the pattern to reach the other end of the ladder. This exercise should be completed as quickly as possible for maximum benefit.
Bunny hops are very straightforward: the athlete hops from square to square, from one end of the ladder to the other, with both feet together. As with the hopscotch drills, the athlete should remain on the balls of his or her feet and not allow the heels to touch the floor. The athlete should hop into each square as quickly as possible.
Zig zags use the space to either side of the ladder. This ladder agility drill can be performed by hopping on alternating feet or with both feet together. The athlete begins by standing to one side at one end of the ladder, then he or she hops into the first square and continues by hopping to the opposite side next to the second square. He or she continues to cross back and forth in this pattern until reaching the other end of the ladder.
When performing the high knees run, both feet will be stepping into each square. The athlete runs through the ladder, stepping into each block as quickly as possible. He or she should concentrate on running with the knees elevated and thighs parallel to the floor on each step.
Maintaining good form is important when performing ladder agility drills. Often, these drills are performed early in a workout, when muscles are fresh. Ladder agility drills can be effective throughout a workout, though, and a series of drills can be effective in raising the heart rate. Drills performed late in a workout are excellent for testing stamina and pushing endurance.