The Shaky Foundation of Agility Ladders

Agility Ladders. Often a staple in off-season programs for athletes of all sports. Often misconstrued as a way to improve your foot speed, running speed, or change of direction speed.

Agility is defined as the rapid whole body movement with change of velocity or direction in response to a stimulus.

There is no stimulus when you or your athletes are using an agility ladder. Considering you are just doing the same repetitive motions and patterns, that’s not stimulating to the brain at all. In order to improve agility a stimulus must be applied to training.

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I’m not discrediting the use of agility ladders for development of athletes. But to use them primarily as a tool to improve an athlete’s agility and change of direction of ability is not correct.

Having a ladder as a warm-up prior to actual agility training is an option. Using the ladder for as a component of a general dynamic warm-up is an option. In the rehabilitation setting, it’s a great way to start to introduce athletes back to sport recovering from hip, knee, or ankle injuries. It can be used for general conditioning as well.

But to bank on the agility ladder as a way to develop agility in your athletes would be a mistake. You would need to add a stimulus to improve their agility. Adding a reactionary component is important. Just repeatedly doing the same movements through the ladder is not enough.

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