Ladder Drills For The Upper Body by John Gaglione

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Ladder drills are a great tool for improving coordination, quickness, and timing. The athlete will learn to have fast and accurate feet and hands. These ladder progressions don’t necessarily need to be added in after the hurdle drills. They can be worked on at the same time as some of the other drills. If you don’t have a ladder at your facility, just put tape down on the floor and put out the desired number of boxes. I like the ladder better than the tape because when the athlete makes a mistake, the ladder will move and give you immediate feedback. The ladder can be used to teach running mechanics and give a great conditioning workout as well.

Personally, I like to use the ladder for conditioning with my more advanced athletes because I can force them to use a complicated pattern when under fatigue. In sports, we must be able to keep good form and speed even when we’re tired and in the final minutes of a game or match. Pretty much any pattern that can be done with the feet can be done with the hands, but there are a few patterns that I find work particularly well.

When performing the hand variations, it’s important to maintain a flat back and keep good posture. The athletes can straddle the ladder with their feet so that their feet won’t get in the way. The ladder can be used to help increase speed and improve conditioning as well as stability.

You don’t want to let your athlete’s hips sag as this can create stress at the lower back. Think of the hand ladder drills as kind of a dynamic plank. This will help the athletes build stability in their core as well as in their shoulders while developing quick hands and feet. Sometimes when going for speed, the hips will rise up a little high. This is OK as long as the back isn’t severely rounded. When training for stability, I recommend keeping a neutral spine while keeping the abdominals and glutes squeezed very tight. If you have very strong athletes, you can even use jumping variations for the hands with the ladder.

Ladder drills are a great way to develop speed, strength, and stability for both the upper and lower body. We typically start off with simple patterns such as two feet in the box and then progress to more advanced moves such as the icky shuffle. The simple moves are great for speed work and the advanced moves are great for coordination and agility training. The complex patterns really teach the athlete to change directions quickly. Jumping and hopping variations can also be utilized to develop reactive ability and power endurance.

Here are a few examples:

Ladder drills

Linear drills

Linear hand drills

Lateral drills

Lateral hand drills

References

  • Chu D (1998) Jumping into plyometrics. 2nd Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
  • Boyle M (2010) Advances in functional training: training techniques for coaches, personal trainers and athletes. Santa Cruz, CA: On Target Publications.
  • Boyle M (2006) Designing strength training programs and facilities (Adobe Digital Editions). Retrieved from: http://www.strengthcoach.com/.
  • Boyle M (2004) Functional training for sports. 1st Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
  • Remedios R (2010, May 11). Chaos interview: how to get faster! [Web log message]. Retrieved from: http://www.coachdos.com/75/chaos-interview-how-to-get-faster/.
  • Rooney M (2008) Training for warriors: the ultimate mixed martial arts workout. New York, New York: Harper Paperbacks.
  • Smith J (2006) The chaos training manual (Adobe Digital Editions). Retrieved from: http://www.dieselcrew.com/chaos-training-manual/.
  • Low Box Training for Athletes (2006) Prod. Lee Taft/Sports Speed, Etc. DVD.
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About the Author

John Gaglione is a sport performance specialist at Athletic and Fitness Trainers of Long Island in Massapequa, New York. He is also the director of strength and conditioning for Plainedge High School’s football and wrestling programs. In his free time, he enjoys powerlifting and has competition bests of a 675-lb squat, a 450-lb bench and a 515-lb deadlift. To learn more about John, visit his blog at http://www.aftli.com/blog/or send him an email at gaglionestrength@gmail.com.

Submitted by DMorgan on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 10:06pm.

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