How to Do Ladder Sprints

Front View of a Female Athlete Crouching in Starting Blocks

Ladder sprints, also called ladder drills or suicides, help athletes build stamina in sports requiring endurance, such as basketball or lacrosse. Incorporated into a regular workout schedule, ladder sprints result in increased lung capacity and muscle endurance. You can scale ladder sprints to the space available and your physical conditioning, increasing the intensity as your stamina improves. As with all exercise, you should stretch both before and after your sprints, and drink enough water to stay properly hydrated.

Use a court or field of the same type and at least as large as the playing area of your sport. For example, basketball players should use a basketball court, and football players should use a football field.

Set markers at 10-yard intervals on the sprint area or use the existing game lines. For example, use cones on a volleyball court or the 10-yard lines on a football field.

Start at the baseline of the field or court. With an explosive start, sprint at top speed to the first 10-yard marker. Without stopping, immediately turn around and sprint at top speed back to the starting point.

Turn again and sprint at top speed to the 20-yard marker. Turn and sprint back to the baseline.

Continue turning around at the baseline and sprinting to the next marker and back without stopping until you reach all the markers in succession. Begin the ladder sprints in reverse order, ending with the 10-yard marker. Do not stop between sprints.

Vary the ladder sprints according to your physical level by resting or doing other exercises such as crunches between sprints. Alternatively, you can sprint to and from the first marker more than once before moving on to the second marker. Increase the difficulty by setting the markers farther apart.


Walk after the ladder sprints until your breathing returns to normal for your cool down.

Stretch your muscles, especially those in the legs, ankles and feet, before the ladder sprints to loosen up and prevent cramping. Stretch again afterward to cool down your muscles.

Drink plenty of water before, during and after the ladder sprints to stay hydrated.


Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time, if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.