Many athletes use the speed ladder to develop fast feet on the field. However, once you’ve mastered the technique, in order to continue reaping its benefits, you must mix up your patterns and change where you perform the drill. So says speed guru Tom Shaw, owner of Tom Shaw Performance Enhancement, who has trained the past five Super Bowl MVPs, along with four number one NFL Draft picks.
“I used to love just doing ladder drills,” Shaw says. But when he recognized how routine they had become to his athletes, he decided to modify how and where the drill is performed. Otherwise, athletes start getting into a pattern of being good at only certain exercises, Shaw says.
Different patterns work different movements of the feet and legs, which is necessary because football is a multi-directional sport, and you have to be able to move fast in all directions.
Shaw’s variations also include moving the ladder from the gym floor out onto sand or grass, which challenges athletes by requiring more difficult foot movements.
“It’s a lot harder to do the ladder on the grass, because you’ve got cleats [on], and we’re always teaching keeping feet low to the ground,” Shaw says. “You got to make [athletes perform] where they are actually going to play.”