Being able to change direction on the football field requires a combination of skills, such as strength, speed and flexibility.
That makes it important to work on your ability to change direction in practice. Adding an agility ladder to your workouts can help your change of direction be more fluid and precise on game day.
“These drills are going to focus on body position, balance and everything that a player needs to do to change direction,” Division I football coach Chris Merritt says. “It’s going to require that athlete to focus on their feet and become comfortable with the drill first before they begin to be able to go through the drill with any kind of speed.”
There are several drills you can run through with an agility ladder that can help improve your change of direction.
This drill features constant change of direction and body movement. To run through the Snake:
- Face the ladder from the side.
- Move through the space between the first two rungs with two feet.
- Step outside of the ladder on the opposite side of the starting point.
- Turn and repeat through the next pair of rungs.
- Repeat to the end of the ladder.
“Have them go slow at first until they gain the rhythm of it,” Merritt says.
STEP IN, STEP OUT, STEP UP
This drill has you focused on shuffling through the ladder from side to side. To perform the drill:
- Start on one side of the ladder.
- Step into the space between the first two rungs with your right foot, followed by your left.
- Make sure to get both feet into each rung.
- Step outside of the ladder onto the opposite side of the starting point, keeping a right foot-left foot rhythm.
- Move through the next space starting with your left foot, followed by your right this time.
- Repeat these movements until you reach the end of the ladder.
“We’re going to do the best we can to keep our spine in between the rungs of the ladder on the sides,” Merritt says. “So, we want this nice and tight. The only thing that we want stepping outside the ladder is our feet.”
You can advance this drill by adding extra width to your movements. This variation requires athletes to move farther from the ladder:
- Begin a yard outside the ladder.
- Step inside the ladder with your right foot to start the drill.
- Move through the spaces between the rungs with both feet.
- Step outside of the ladder, getting as much width as you can.
- Move into the next space starting with your left foot.
- Repeat the movements back and forth until the end of the ladder.
“Push yourself to see how wide you can go,” Merritt says.
Being able to change direction quickly and effectively can help set you apart on the football field. Adding these drills to practice can help you prepare for those special plays.
Looking for more drills to get you ready for game day? The 5-10-5 Shuttle Run is useful in the offseason to help improve your change of direction. You can also check out the Single Leg Hops drill to work on your explosiveness.