Agility Ladder Benefits & The Best Speed Ladder Drills

the best speed ladder drills and exercises

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If you don’t know anything about the agility ladder benefits, or reasons you should be using a speed ladder in your training routine, you are lucky to have stumbled across my article!

As a professional basketball player, I can honestly say I have more experience with an agility ladder than anyone in their right mind would want to have.

Seriously, we use this tool all the time!

If you don’t know anything about it though, I’ll start from the beginning for you!

Essentially, agility is your ability to quickly change positions by making use of quick and controlled movements.

The possession of this skill will provide an athlete with a great advantage over their competitors, in almost every-single sport.

Agility ladder training is a common drill used by many different strength and conditioning coaches to improve foot speed, as well as overall conditioning.

The American Council on Exercise has actually recommended agility ladder training to help boost foot speed, coordination and body awareness!

Check out these speed ladder benefits, and the best ladder drills to reap benefits as quickly as possible! Similar to most basketball players, I was introduced to the agility ladder at a young age.

It wasn’t until college though that I actually became comfortable enough with the agility ladder to learn how to really benefit from it!

Actually, it took a series of 6am “punishment” workouts with some intense agility ladder training for me to understand how useful it can be!

Agility ladder training manages to accomplish all of these at once:

  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Reactivity
  • Quickness

Keep reading below to learn more about the benefits of speed ladder training and a few of my favorite agility ladder exercises!

Agility Ladder Benefits

Though it was initially used by elite athletes, it has gradually become part of the general training program for weight loss clients and other individuals in need of personal fitness.

The agility ladder can be used and benefited from by nearly anybody, since it has a very low minimum requirement for use.  Anybody can use it at some level, and the more you advance in your training the more difficult you can make it!

1.) A Speed Ladder is Inexpensive and Portable

You literally draw an agility ladder on the floor and still get every benefit from it.  In fact, it would probably work best being drawn on the floor!

The actual agility ladder itself is portable enough to fit in many backpacks, and can easily ride around in your car wherever you go.  Mine never leaves my car!  You can find a high-quality agility ladder for less than $20 easily, and it does not take-up any unnecessary amount of space.

It is incredibly easy to get all of the speed ladder benefits regardless of your budget, so don’t make this excuse!

2.) Using an Agility Ladder is Excellent for Weight Loss

Agility ladder training can be used as a type of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which allows you to burn the same amount of calories or more in a far-shorter amount of time!

Agility ladder exercises are excellent for being used in short-explosive intervals, challenging your body and improving your coordination.  Agility ladders are also highly recommended for weight loss since they are low-impact on your joints and tendons.

Although they involve fast movements, the range of motion is small and there is no painfully difficult force created with the ground such as with box jumps or depth jumps.

3.) Mastering the Speed Ladder Lowers Your Risk of Injury

The agility ladder trains numerous human body functions which are necessary for survival, and effectively works to increase the strength and stability of your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments all at once!  It really is a fantastic and underutilized tool!

One of its more unique benefits is that it helps in increasing your strength and resiliency of the elastic fascia and connective tissue in your feet, ankles and rest of lower body.

By improving its ability to shorten and lengthen, the agility ladder decreases the risk of injury which normally occur as a result of quick changes in direction or speed.

Speed ladder benefits are multi faceted, which is another reason why you should be using this tool so often!

4.) Agility Ladder Workouts are Much Less Boring Than Other Forms of Cardio!

Speed ladder training is a fun way to train, it is great for those of you with a short attention span.

Whether you just need a change in your cardio routine or you are looking for a new-staple in your fat-burning program, the agility ladder is excellent for people who are easily bored with “normal” workout programs.

Agility ladder training is engaging and very challenging in numerous different ways, allowing you a plethora of different goals to work towards achieving.

Along with this, the speed ladder can burn enough calories that you will never need to churn away at hour long cardio sessions again!

15 to 20 minutes of HIIT with the agility ladder will be more than enough cardio for any day!  You can have all of the speed ladder benefits in just a short amount of work; it really is an incredible tool!

5.) The Agility Ladder Benefits the Body By Improving Your Body Awareness and Movement Skill

For elite athletes, the agility ladder serves in developing specific skills that will help them to perform at their peak, in terms of movement ability.  You certainly do not need to be an elite athlete in order to benefit from the use of agility ladder training, as we all can benefit in the same ways.

The speed ladder helps to increase your rate of force production, something which relates directly to the speed at which your muscles contracts.  Your ability to maintain control over a moving center of mass will lead to an improvement in your dynamic balance.

Older adults are able to improve their dynamic balance through speed ladder training, which will help them maintain a high level of fitness as well as overall coordination even at old age. Based on research by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that was published in April 2004, community based resistance and agility training programs were supported to help lower the risk of fall among older women who have low bone mass.

Similarly, young kids can also improve their balance through training on an agility ladder. According to one study,

“The experimental group improved their dynamic balance score from pre- to post-test compared to the control group although no significant improvements were observed in the retention test. Agility ladder drills provide an additional approach to improve the dynamic balance of young children.”

Whether you just need help walking correctly or you are tuning up for professional sports, you can speed ladder benefits will help improve the quality of your life in many different ways!

6.) Speed Ladder Use Enhances Cognitive Performance

Based on a study that was carried out by the Air Force Research Laboratory, it was revealed that agility training is capable of improving your cognitive performance.

Since it incorporates components of learning, balance, focus and coordination at the same time, the agility ladder is able to stimulate stronger connections among several brain regions, causing them to work together.  For some people, this system of the brain is completely out of sync.

Simple agility ladder training can make a huge impact for people who have this difficulty!

7.) Speed Ladder Training Has a Strong Correlation with Ankle Function and Athletic Ability

Good flexibility is very necessary for optimal performance in any sports exercise, as when a joint lacks a normal range of motion (ROM) as a result of overactive/tight muscle performance naturally becomes lower.

Range of motion for joints/muscles refers to the absolute range of motion in a joint or system of joints, and the length of the muscle which crosses the joints that is involved. Poor flexibility leads to a decrease in your potential performance.

Some of the ways in which you will benefit from flexibility training include:

  • An increased range of motion
  • Relief of stress that is placed on joints, caused by altered or unnatural movement

Most of the variability in the static range of motion is because of the elastic properties of tendons, and muscles, that are attached across the joints.

One of the components that reduce the range of motion of joints is stiff muscles and tendons.

The ankles are stability joints that have the ability to absorb force, and help with shifting and stabilizing weight for the next movement. All of these processes happen much faster than we think, which is why it is necessary that our ankles are able to react without thinking.

This is why speed ladder work is necessary, in order to increase your natural ankle function and ability

8.) You Can Easily Improve Your Ankles with the Speed Ladder

the best agility ladder drills and exercises

To improve your performance in major sports activities, active stiffness needs to be reduced greatly.  To do so, you will require more specific training than just static stretching.

You need to work your ankles in athletic ways.  The agility ladder accomplishes this, very well.

Every athlete needs a flexible ankle that will enable them to maintain the required stability for performance, and help in absorbing the force of any sports activity.

Use the below agility ladder movements to accomplish this goal!

9.) Using an Agility Ladder Will Make You Faster & More Explosive

As you can probably imagine, using the speed ladder will literally make you faster. According to one study which was published by the International Journal of Applied Research,

“Based on the results the study it was concluded that the ladder drill and SAQ training were significantly improved the speed and agility among sports clubs badminton players.”

There is a reason it is called the “speed” ladder!

My Favorite Speed Ladder Drills

The agility ladder can be used in literally hundreds of ways.

There are a few exercises which are more-well known than others, but you can use it completely in your own interpretation if you would like!  Some of the more famous exercise used with the agility ladder are:

  1. Running 1-Step in each box
  2. Running 2-Steps in each box
  3. Hopping
  4. Lateral Slide
  5. Lateral High-Knees
  6. High-Knees
  7. Hop-Scotch
  8. Skater-Hops
  9. Icky Shuffle
  10. Hop-scotch
  11. Lateral Crossovers

Here are a couple video examples:

The Best Agility Ladder to Purchase

Although there are a lot of options for the best agility ladder, I have used my SKLZ Quick Ladder for years and it has not broke or failed me yet! The SKLZ Quick Ladder costs only $29.99, and it is a 15-foot long agility ladder with 11 heavy-duty plastic runs.

Generally speaking, this is a durable and portable speed ladder, and I am confident that you will find it as useful as I have!

Concluding Thoughts – How to Properly Do Agility Ladder Exercises

My own favorite use for the agility ladder has become as a part of my dynamic warm-up.

I will usually use about 10-15 minutes’ worth of agility ladder training to prime my Central Nervous System, as well as working on movement coordination and foot-speed.

I actually prefer to do most of my agility ladder training without shoes, in hopes of improving foot strength and elasticity as well!

Training this way also works your joint and muscle stability much harder as well!  You can find a multitude of speed ladder benefits regardless of how you incorporate it in to your training program!

Whether young or old, the speed ladder benefits are excellent for your overall health.

Younger athletes can benefit from gaining coordination just as much as older individuals who do not want to lose their coordination, high-level athletes can benefit from increasing their movement-quality and foot speed, and we all can benefit from a form of cardiovascular fat-burning workout which will not bore us to death!

Read Next: Prowler Sled Benefits

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