Agility ladders are popular tools for sports preparation but too many people are using them the wrong way.
Social media has hyped it so much that people think they have to do it or they will be slower than their competition. Full discloser, if/when I use agility ladders it is for a warmup or with elementary school kids, they find it a lot of fun. That’s it. I don’t sell it as a magic tool that will take you to the next level and leave your opponent in the dust.
When you see a running back cut on a dime and change directions, he didn’t get that way by working on footwork with an agility ladder.
True agility comes from training at or near game speed and changing directions under load. Your body needs to be able to accelerate, stop, change directions, and accelerate again. You can’t get that with agility ladders.
Look at slow motion film of a running back, point guard, or defensive end. When they have to change directions their hips are low and the feet are wider than what we see during agility ladders drills. That alone should be enough to show how much ladder drills don't carry over into actual sports.
When using agility ladders use them wisely. Pick about 3 or 4 drills and use it to prime the central nervous system to tell the body it’s time to do some work.
I like to use cones as an alternative to agility ladders. If you don’t have cones, use sticks, water bottles, rocks, or whatever you can find to mark a point.
WARMUP BEFORE YOU START!
Set them apart about 3 to 5 yards in various directions.
If you’ve never done this start slow.
Start around 50% and build to 100%.
Accelerate to one point change directions (reverse, left, right, stop and go) you can be creative with it.
Allow yourself to fully recover at lease two minutes between each rep.
Remember you are training for agility not conditioning.
Scott Young, CSCS