Ladder Training of a Different Kind

There can’t be anybody working in the construction industry here in the UK who hasn’t heard of ladder training – it’s an essential requirement when it comes to safe use of ladders.  It’s also a type of training that’s required for anybody using a ladder in the workplace here in Britain, whatever type of industry they work in – even if it’s making sure one person in an office has had the training necessary to safely climb a ladder and change a light bulb on the odd occasion.  However, there is another type of ladder training in the field of sports.

Basically, we’re talking about the agility drills which are used in sports training with the aim of enhancing the ability to change direction and accelerate while in motion.  These abilities are important in many sports but especially vital in team and dual sports.  For example, when a footballer is running back he needs to quickly change direction if he sees an opponent preparing to tackle him.  There are so many examples to choose from but it’s a vital skill in team games in which opponents mark and/or tackle so the ability to quickly change direction is critical for success.

Drills that use ladders (often referred to as agility ladders), hurdles and cones have become increasingly popular and are used in many different sports.  They provide multi-planar dynamic warm ups and develop brain to muscle connection – even when used for five minutes or so a few times a week. 

Ladder training usually involves following a set pattern through a ladder that has been placed flat on the ground (no danger of a fall from height here, folks).  The goal is to move the feet inside and outside of the rungs of the ladder with the aim of increasing speed while still maintaining the pattern.  Ladder drills are also an effective warm up for proper speed training for athletes.  The repetitive action of loading the unloading the legs is an effective warm up for the muscles, increases tendon elasticity and can be used as the cardio component of sprinting.  Ladder drills are also good as a warm up for more intense methods of agility training and improve reaction time. 

Some sports coaches advocate the use of ladder drills when working on the rehabilitation of ankle, knee and hip injuries.  The lower force application and elastic recoil effects from the foot hitting the floor and responding back improves tendon response and builds up conditioning to impact-based sports activities.

If you’re thinking of having a go at this onsite – don’t chuck your ladders on the ground just yet – in fact, don’t do it at all (not even at break time), it would probably be deemed unsafe, even if you’ve undergone intensive ladder safety training!  Athletes use specially designed ladders, some of which have adjustable rungs so that the workout can be tailored to individual needs.  If you’re an athlete or sportsman and you have an agility ladder, don’t be tempted to climb it at home to change the light bulb either!