Few things are more likely to illicit a groan from youth athletes as hearing the coach yell out “ladders!” Sometimes referred to as “suicides” by worn out players, this agility drill is a common sight during practices, regardless of the sport. Coaches understand the importance of speed and agility during a game, where being a step or two faster can make all the difference in making a play. In order to improve the agility of your youth athletes, here are three new agility training drills to work into your repertoire.
Follow the leader
This is a great way to turn a childhood game into an agility drill (and get some good exercise for you!) Any field or court will do, so this a good drill for both indoor and outdoor athletes. Pair your players and have one as the leader and the other as the follower. The leader is trying to “ditch” their follower by alternating between walking, jogging and sprinting around the field, choosing speeds and directions at random. The follower has to stay as close as possible. This can help your athletes develop their reaction time, agility and endurance.
Tape out small Xs in the pattern of a 5 on a die. Have your youth athlete begin by jumping from dot to dot with both feet at a time. Eventually have them progress to one foot and follow a specific jump pattern. This agility drill is great for athletes that need to make quick changes of direction and landings like basketball or tennis players. It can help your players increase knee and ankle strength and stability, hopefully minimizing sprained ankles.
Click here to watch a great YouTube video of the dot drill in action.
Using a simple rope ladder, coaches can have their youth athletes practice one or two different agility drills:
Forward Running, High-Knee Drill: This drill is great for improving foot speed and coordination. Have your youth athletes run with high knees through the ladder, touching both feet inside of every ladder space.
Lateral Running, Side-to-Side Drill: This agility drill is great for court-sports like basketball and tennis or any other sport where players are frequently moving from side-to-side. Much like the dot drills, it can improve knee and ankle stability. Keeping a low center of gravity, have your players step side-to-side through the ladder one foot at a time, making sure to touch both feet in between each rung.
Click here to watch a great YouTube video of various speed ladder agility drills.