You can be the fastest athlete in the world, but unless you’re Usain Bolt, all that speed won't do you much good if you can't stop and change direction. Those of us who do more than run in a straight line need agility.
One of the best tools for improving agility is a speed ladder. The following four ladder drills improve your footwork, coordination and ability to control your body when quickly shifting positions. Perform them during speed workouts, right after a dynamic warm-up, one to two days per week. For each drill, do three sets in each direction.
Stand with the ladder to your left. Shuffle laterally through ladder, placing one foot in each box so that both feet are never in the same box at the same time. Repeat in opposite direction.
Stand with the ladder to your left. Using the same technique described above, shuffle to your left for two boxes, then step towards start for one box. Continue this pattern through entire ladder. Repeat in opposite direction. When you feel you’ve mastered the technique, try varying the number of boxes you shuffle.
Stand facing the ladder with your left foot in the first box and right foot to the right of that same box. Hop and rotate 90 degrees counterclockwise, so your right foot is in second box and left foot is still in the first box. Hop back to the starting stance, only now your left foot should be in the second box with your right foot outside. Continue this pattern through the entire ladder, then repeat in the opposite direction.
Stand facing the ladder with your left foot in the first box and right foot to the right of the box. Hop and rotate 90 degrees clockwise, so your right foot is in the first box and left foot is in second box. Hop back to the starting stance, with your left foot now in the second box and right foot outside of second box. Continue pattern through entire ladder, and repeat in opposite direction. For an additional challenge, hold a medicine ball throughout the drill.
Looking for more speed ladder drills? Check out STACK's Speed Ladder Drill Library or start with these articles: