Plyometric Ladder Drills
Ladder drills help develop speed, agility and quickness which are three valuable assets with sports like soccer, football and basketball. Plyometric exercises involve fast bursts of effort that, when done on a regular basis, improve power output. If you are an athlete or are just looking to change up your current workouts, lay out a ladder and perform several drills.
Hops are basic plyometric ladder drills. To do these, lay the ladder out and stand at one end with your feet together. Slowly descend into a slight squat, and then hop down the length of the ladder. Once you get to the other end, jog back to the other side and repeat. When you are just starting out, hop one space at a time, and as you adapt, aim for two. The idea with this and all plyometric exercises is to spend as little time as possible on the floor with each movement.
Single Foot Hops
Single foot hops are progressions of two-foot hops and they increase the balance challenge. While standing at one end of the ladder, lift your left foot off the floor and bend your left knee so your foot is behind you. Now hop down the length of the ladder on your right foot, jog back to the start and hop down with your left foot. Alternate back and forth with each set of hops. Once you can hop efficiently in each space, increase your length to two spaces. When doing this, you will have to slow down your pace.
Bounding is an exaggerated form of running. While standing at one end of the ladder, hop off your left foot, land on your right foot two spaces down, then leap off your right foot and land on your left foot two spaces farther. Continue all the way to the end of the ladder, jog back to the front and repeat. Basically, you are running slowly and taking long, bouncing strides.
Zigzags are performed in a lateral direction. While standing with your feet together to the side of the ladder at one end, hop completely over it at a forward angle. As soon as your feet hit the ground, hop back over at a forward angle to the other side. Continue hopping down the length of the ladder, jog back to the start and repeat. Once you are able to use two feet efficiently, hop with one foot. In this case, hop the whole length with one leg, then hop with the other leg.
Hopscotch is a fast-paced drill that involves both feet. While standing at one end of the ladder, hop both feet into the first space, then hop forward and land your feet on the outside of the next space. Continue this pattern all the way to the end, jog back to the start and repeat. For a variation, alternate hopping a single foot into each forward space instead of both.
Ski jumps simulate the skiing motion you would experience on the hill. While standing with your right foot in the first space and left foot out, hop forward to your right side and land with your left foot in the next space and right foot outside of it. Quickly hop forward again and land with your right foot in a space and left foot out. Continue all the way down the ladder, jog back and repeat. This time start with your left foot in a space and right foot out.
Ankle skips are similar to jumping rope but in a forward motion. While standing at one end of the ladder, hop into the first space with your right foot, then alternate each space the rest of the way down. When doing this, do not bend your knees.
Explore In Depth
- Brian Mac: Agility
- Sports Fitness Advisor: Zigzag Hops
- Feito Y, Heinrich KM, Butcher SJ, Poston WSC. High-intensity functional training (hift): definition and research implications for improved fitness. Sports (Basel). 2018;6(3):76. Published 2018 Aug 7. doi:10.3390/sports6030076
- Milanović Z, Sporiš G, Trajković N, James N, Samija K. Effects of a 12 Week SAQ Training Programme on Agility with and without the Ball among Young Soccer Players. J Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(1):97–103. Published 2013 Mar 1.
- Reed-jones RJ, Dorgo S, Hitchings MK, Bader JO. Vision and agility training in community dwelling older adults: incorporating visual training into programs for fall prevention. Gait Posture. 2012;35(4):585-9. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.11.029
- Lennemann LM, Sidrow KM, Johnson EM, Harrison CR, Vojta CN, Walker TB. The influence of agility training on physiological and cognitive performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(12):3300-9. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31828ddf06
- Martin, Mollie. 5 Cognitive Awareness Drills for Training Athletes. American Council on Exercise. April 13, 2017
I am very genuine and magnetic on camera, and have made numerous videos on my own for clients and other organizations that I'm affiliated with. I also have a degree in Sport Management, and multiple certifications to back up my validity. I've also been featured in three different exercise infomercials and had a speaking role in a National Lampoons movie.