It’s no secret that a high level of fitness and conditioning is crucial for success in soccer. But if the grind of long runs isn’t your favorite way to spend your morning or afternoon, there are other methods you can try.
Many utilize the concept of interval training, in which you run at a high intensity for short bursts followed by a slower recovery phase.
One great tool for conditioning which allows you to get in a tough workout in a short period of time is the agility ladder. This type of training also has added benefits beyond just your general conditioning.
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Benefits of Agility Ladder Training for Soccer
Training with an agility ladder is a fast-paced, high-intensity activity which gets your heart rate up and burns lots of calories.
But in addition to this, which is advantageous for anyone looking to stay fit, it has some specific benefits that can help you improve your soccer game.
Agility ladder training for soccer helps strengthen your fast-twitch muscle fibers and improve three key areas: your speed, agility, and quickness.
While these may sound similar, speed refers to the pace at which you move in one direction, while agility is your ability to speed up, slow down, and change direction.
Quickness is your body’s ability to react and change positions rapidly.
All of these directly translate to the situations you encounter on the soccer field.
In addition to this, agility ladder training works a multitude of muscle groups in your legs, back and core. Some of these muscles are often neglected so these exercises help you with long-term injury prevention.
And finally, there’s even another benefit as this type of training has been shown to increase your mental sharpness and focus due to the attention paid to the different movements.
So now that we’ve (hopefully) convinced you that agility ladder workouts are beneficial for soccer, what exercises should you be doing?
The Best Agility Ladder Drills to Try for Soccer
There are endless variations that you can do with your ladder, but we’ve found the following exercises to be the some of the most useful.
One Step/Single Step – We start out with a fairly basic pattern: the one step. Simply take one step in each rung, alternating feet.
Side Steps – Start by facing sideways and move laterally through the ladder with two feet in each rung. Be sure to switch sides.
One Foot Hop – For this exercise, hop forward with the same foot in each rung. Be sure to switch feet on the way back. This is a nice one because it helps greatly with your balance. For variations, try hopping in a sideways position, or with both feet.
Heisman/Ickey Shuffle – For this pattern, you’ll start to the outside of the ladder (for this example, we’ll be on the right). The first step is inside the rung with your left foot, quickly followed by your right in the same rung.
Then you’ll step outside the ladder to the left with your left foot, and push off into the next rung where the exercise will be reversed (right foot inside, left food inside, right foot outside). This is a great exercise because it helps you work on smoothly moving laterally and forward at the same time.
Jumping Jacks – For each rung, jump with both foot inside the ladder, then hop forward so each foot is just to the outside and even with the next rung. Raise your arms over your head as you jump just as you would when doing a regular jumping jack.
There’s really no limit to the exercises you can do with your ladder, so be creative! We’ve seen players incorporate things like push-ups and squats in between each rung.
Which exercise is your favorite? Are there other good ones that you’ve tried in addition to these?
Tips for Better Agility Ladder Training
When working through these variations, there are a few general suggestions to keep in mind. First, you want to start each drill slowly, especially with the more complicated ones. That way you can master proper form and nail the routine before trying to perform it at speed.
Also, work hard to stay on the balls of your feet, use your arms, and try to keep your head steady and your muscles relaxed.
An agility ladder is an easy (and affordable) way to add some variety to your fitness work. Take a look at the best reviewed models on Amazon