7 Ladder Drills for Soccer that Your Team Needs

April 05, 2021 8 min read

7 Ladder Drills for Soccer that Your Team Needs

7 Ladder Drills for Soccer that Your Team Needs

Ladder drills for soccer offer an excellent way of mixing things up in a training repertoire. Most coaches vouch for this time-honored training tool, especially when improving athletes’ agility, speed,and quickness.

You probably understand that most soccer ladder drills are fast-paced. This makes them perfect for working on the 3 key attributes mentioned above and boosting your athlete’s fitness level. Incorporating these exercises into your team’s practice program is also great for improving soccer footwork.

For this post, we’re going to break down the best ladder drills for soccer that bring out the potential in your soccer players!

Always Start with a Thorough Warm-Up

Ensure that your players have completed a dynamic warm-up before trying any of the soccer ladder drills that we’ve included in this article. Soccer agility drills are high-intensity interval training workouts that get the heart racing in a few seconds. The muscles also need to expend energy in short bursts of intense activities followed by low-intensity recovery periods.

Proper warm-up before engaging in these soccer agility ladder drills is necessary to activate the heart and muscles and prime the nervous system for the extreme movements ahead.

7 Agility Ladder Drills Soccer to Add to Your Team’s Workout Routine

1. Lateral High Knees

These soccer speed ladder drills offer a good way of increasing side-to-side speed, coordination, and footwork. These are among the key aspects that your players need to maneuver around defenders and evade an attack quickly.

How to set Execute

  1. The player starts by standing sideways at one end of the ladder.
  2. To begin the drill, the player lifts the right foot to drive the knee to waist height and then places that foot into the first box of the ladder.
  3. Next, he lifts the left knee to waist height to place the left foot into the first box too.
  4. By the time the second foot touches the ground, the player repeats the process with the previous foot and completes all the rungs.
  5. At the other end of the ladder, the player should repeat the activity starting with the opposite foot to balance both sides.
  6. Two reps make one set. Let the players take a 30-sec rest before starting another set.

The coach should decide how many reps the players should complete in the session, depending on their fitness level.

When moving through the boxes, the players should generate bouncing power by moving the elbows back and forth.

Encourage your players to increase the speed and maintain the rhythm to avoid getting fatigued fast.

2. High Knee Runs

As you may have guessed, the ladder runs drill is closely related to the workout activity above. The only difference is that instead of moving sideways, the player moves facing forward. Like other speed ladder drills for soccer, this is a fast-paced cardio-intensive workout that engages your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, outer thighs,and core muscles. When done correctly and consistently, it boosts momentum, flexibility, and coordination.

How to Execute

  1. When getting ready to perform this drill, the player stands at one end of the ladder facing forward.
  2. At the coach’s cue, the player raises one foot to lift the knee to waist height before putting that foot into the first box of the ladder.
  3. Next, he lifts the second foot in the same fashion but places it in the second box.
  4. The player repeats these steps to run through all the boxes.
  5. If using one ladder, the second player can begin as soon as the first player finishes.

When executing these agility ladder drills for soccer players, the arms should stay bent at 90 degrees. The players should swing the arms back and forward with max effort to generate speed and momentum for the feet. Additionally, the players should land on the balls of their feet as they pace through the ladder.

3. Ickey Shuffle

The Ickey Shuffle soccer training ladder drill is named after Elbert L. "Ickey" Woods- former American NFL player. This might seem like an advanced drill for most beginners, but it gets fairly simple once they master the 3 steps (in, out, up) and the rhythm involved. Once players embrace and perfect this drill, you should begin to notice improvements in their lower body quickness and overall agility.

The Ickey Shuffle uses a 2-in 1-out footwork pattern. This means that 2 feet will be in before one moves out.

How to Execute

  1. The player begins by standing at one end of the ladder and to the side.
  2. Start by stepping into the first box of the ladder immediately followed by the second foot. Let’s assume that you start with the right foot, followed by the left foot to make it clear.
  3. Immediately push the right foot outside the second box and then place the left foot inside the second box. Next, move the right foot into the second box too.
  4. Immediately push the left foot outside and then move the right foot up into the third box. Next, bring the left foot into the third box before pushing the right foot outside.
  5. Continue this pattern to complete all the boxes in the ladder.
  6. After completing all the boxes, jog back to the starting point.
  7. The coach should determine how long these exercises will last depending on the players' ability.

If you have players trying these soccer ladder drills for the first time, ask them to start slow and build speed as they get more confident. Also, ask them not to look at their feet but to keep their head up. The players can add variation to this workout by moving backward once they reach the other end of the ladder.

4. In-In Out-Out Lateral Soccer Speed Ladder Drills

These soccer ladder drills mimic the lateral high knees workout activity that we mentioned earlier. However, this drill adds complexity by including forward and backward movements. These movements mirror the multi-directional footwork in an actual soccer match.

When combined with other ladder footwork drills for soccer, this drill can help improve your player’s first-step quickness and agility.

How to Execute

  1. The player starts by standing sideways along the width of the first box of the ladder.
  2. To begin the in-in-out-out drill, the player moves the lead foot into the first box, followed by the right foot. That’s the in-in part.
  3. Next, he moves the lead foot outside and upwards so that he’s standing next to the second box. This should be followed by moving the other foot out. That’s the out-out part.
  4. With both feet out, repeat the process by taking the lead foot inside the second box followed by the second foot.
  5. At the end of the ladder, the player should repeat the sequence but alternate the lead foot. This will make one set.
  6. You can decide to have the players repeat the process for a given time or a number of sets.

This drill is generally easy to understand once the players perfect the in-in out-out rhythm. As they get a grip of the drill, motivate them to try moving the legs at top gear to reap its full benefits. Also, make sure that they are landing on the balls of their feet.

5. Lateral Toe Tap- Soccer Ladder Drills with Ball

You can also use footwork ladders to incorporate other key aspects, such as ball control, into your team’s workout program. The boxes offer a visual guide to help the players maintain tight control of the ball. If the players can move the ball at the right places inside the ladder, they will have an easier time slipping through defenders when stuck in tight spaces. The lateral toe tap is one of the best soccer speed and agility drills for this.

How to Execute

  1. The player stands sideways with the ball in the first box of the ladder.
  2. At the trainer’s signal, the player taps the top of the ball using the right foot, followed by the left foot, and another tap using the right foot again.
  3. Next, he uses the left leg to roll the ball into the next box.
  4. Repeat the tap-tap-tap-roll sequence to move the ball down the ladder.
  5. At the end of the ladder, the player repeats the pattern but alternates the lead foot. This helps in balancing the art of ball control in both feet.

In the beginning, make sure that the players carry out this activity at a pace they are comfortable with. They can speed it up as they get used to it.

Also, encourage them to use natural back and forth arm movements to create balance and strength. Ask them to slow down if they lose control of the ball but ensure that their body is over the ball.

6. Hopscotch Agility Ladder Drills Soccer

Most athletes have a very easy time learning these agility ladder drills for soccer players, especially if they played hopscotch in their childhood. Nevertheless, it’s still pretty straightforward for anyone who’s hearing about it for the first time.

When done correctly, integrating speed ladders and hopscotch will boost your players’ explosiveness, deceleration, acceleration, and the ability to switch directions snappily.

Notably, this workout involves jumping in and out of boxes at speed- an activity that demands excellent foot-eye coordination and superb lower body reaction timing. This means that your players will not only be quicker, but they will be making precise movements, which will help when juking around opponents.

How to Execute

  1. To do agility ladder hopscotch, the player starts by standing at one end of the speed ladder facing forward.
  2. At the trainer’s cue, the player jumps with both feet into the first box.
  3. Without resting, he pushes both feet outside the ladder, so the ladder is between the feet.
  4. Next, he jumps inside the second box with both feet and springs outside almost immediately.
  5. The players repeat these patterns to complete all the boxes.

There are various ways of adding variations to this drill. For instance, the player can jump into odd number boxes only (1,3,5, etc.) by skipping the spaces between. Another common variation is jumping with only one foot inside the boxes during the first round and then jumping with the other foot for the second round.

7. Footwork Ladders and Cones

The last drill in our list incorporates the speed ladder and cones- two of the most ubiquitous tools in most soccer training sessions. This drill is relatively simple in theory. But in practice, it’s one of the best soccer exercises for boosting vertical jumps, balance, coordination, and agility.

This workout activity involves hopping on one leg throughout the length of the ladder and sprinting around the cones. Performing this drill will jack up your heart’s pulse rate. This makes it a great exercise for improving your player’s fitness.

How to Set Up and Execute

  1. Place a cone on both sides of the ladder, leaving a distance of 10 yards (meters) between the end of the ladder and the cones.
  2. The player stands at one end of the ladder and hops on one foot through all the boxes. At the other end of the ladder, the player sprints towards the cone and goes around it and back to the end of the ladder closest to that cone.
  3. From this end, the player hops on the opposite foot through the spaces before sprinting to the cone on the other end of the ladder.
  4. The coach may decide to have the players hop on either foot for 2-3 repetitions each before taking a rest.

When hopping through the boxes, motivate the players to hold their heads straight. They should also hop and sprint at top speed to benefit from this exercise. However, depending on their experience level and fitness, they may start slow and build on speed as they advance.

In addition to the drills listed here, another excellent way of revolutionizing your workout routine is by adding Blazepod to your arsenal. This Flash Reflex Training system features uniquely designed light-based pods and the Blazepod App. Blazepod creates visual prompts that enhance your players’ performance by boosting their quickness, agility, and reaction times. To your advantage, the pods are already pre-loaded with numerous workout activities for your players. You can also add exercises of your own to create an endless list of drills for your team.