By Praveen & Maheek Nair
These fast-paced ladder drills get your heart pumping and torch plenty of calories. They improve three key fitness factors—speed, agility and quickness—in addition to strengthening your joints, ligaments and tendons.
Master simplicity before moving onto more complex foot patterns.
8 Ladder Drills to Train Like an Athlete
1 Step is a quick and light run through the ladder with one foot in each box, picking your feet up just enough to get over each stick. Arms are at 90 degrees and only moving at about a quarter of the swing you would use with a full sprint. Keep a forward lean with your weight over your toes to use your body weight to pull you through the ladder.
Start facing sideways, and with a quick lateral step, touch in each box with both feet. Avoid hopping by stepping first with the lead foot, while pushing off of your back foot. When you have finished, repeat facing the other direction to get equal work on both sides.
5 Hops and Run helps develop a quick change. With both feet, quickly hop five boxes and on the fifth box, land with both feet and immediately transition into one step in each box for the remainder of the ladder. It is very important to land with both feet on the fifth hop before taking off and to go as fast as you can under control.
Crossover is a sideways run with one foot touching in each box. Lean toward the direction you are going to help propel yourself forward. It is important that you step over the foot of the lead leg without swinging out in front of your body. Once you have completed this drill, repeat facing the other direction.
Side Straddle Hop develops explosive lateral movements by hopping in and out of each box with a simple two count of: “In Out, In Out.” Avoid clapping your feet when bringing them together and keep your arms at a 90-degree angle. Work to gradually increase the rate of speed at which you hop in and out of each box.
Start by facing the side of ladder with two feet touching in and out from the side of each box, following a 4 count of “In, In, Out, Out.” Whichever direction you are going determines your lead leg; if you are going right, your right leg will be your lead leg and vice versa. Just like all drills facing sideways, it is important to repeat facing the other direction.
The centipede simulates this by moving along the side of the ladder following a 3 count of “2 in, 2 over, 2 out”. Again, whichever direction you are going will be your lead leg. You will touch each box with both feet and be sure not to hop; we are working on quick, precise movements in multiple directions. Once you have finished, repeat facing the other direction.
This drill is fairly advanced, but can be broken down into a simple 3 step count that goes: ”In, Out, and Up.” The foot that is in the ladder will move up to the next box as you push off of the foot that is outside of the ladder. If you are learning this drill for the first time, be sure to move slowly and use the 3 count in your head: “In, Out, Up” or “1, 2, 3.” Get the steps down before increasing your speed or adding any variations. Remember, go as fast as you can under control. This might mean walking through the steps until you know the routine.
Follow a 3-step pattern that goes: “In, Behind, & Out.” Start from the side of the ladder and step into the first box with your near foot, then reach behind and all the way across with your second foot, landing out on the opposite side of the ladder. The third step is important because it transitions into the first step of next count. Again, use the 3 count in your head: “In, Behind, Out” or “1, 2, 3.” Until you have memorized the pattern, do not increase your speed. Never go so fast that you lose control, even if this means walking through the drill to learn the steps.
BACK & FORTH
This drill is advanced, but can be broken down into three total steps that go: “One In, Two Out,” which is repeated in a backpedal: “One In, Two Out”. As you are learning, slowly use the 3 count in your head: “1, 2, 3.” Only one foot will touch each box, alternating that leg each time. Be light on your feet when you are pushing backward and then use a quick jab step to get out of the backpedal. Remember, any drill that is facing sideways needs to be done facing both directions.
The Single Leg Shuffle requires fast and precise footwork, really firing up the nervous system. Facing forward, you are going to move along the side of the ladder, touching each box with your inside foot, while your outside foot keeps pace. Keep your hips square for the entire drill and with quick, light steps, reach in and out of every box with just your inside foot. Once you have finished the drill, repeat on the other side of the ladder using your other foot to touch each square.
Double Trouble is a fast ladder drill that really fires up the nervous system. This drill involves a 4 count that goes, “In, In, Out, Out.” Starting at the end of the ladder, step in with the lead foot, in with the other foot, out with the lead foot, and out with the other foot. Both feet will touch every square of the entire ladder. Once you have completed this drill, repeat by switching the lead foot. Learn the pattern before increasing your speed, and then go as fast as you can under control.
Watch the Calories burn.