If you’re like most strength & conditioning coaches, agility ladder drills are part of your program. Some coaches use them as a warm up while others use them to develop footwork and agility. While there are numerous drills that can be used, there should be one constant. What is that, you ask? The athlete should keep their head up during the drill. Let me repeat that – the athlete should keep their head up during the drill. That’s kind of a pet peeve of mine.
How many sports that use agility can you name that are played with your head down? Football, soccer, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, softball, volleyball, etc all require you to keep your head up if you are going to be a good player. Because of that, why would we encourage head down behavior in our drills? Shouldn’t we teach athletes to keep their heads up? When an athlete is just starting to learn a particular ladder drill, they might need to keep their head down. However, once the athlete has run through the drill a few times, they need to try to keep their head up. Will this slow them down? A little at first, but once they get used to it, the skill will transfer better to their sport. Isn’t that what we want? Ultimately we want athletes that are quicker and more agile on the field or court, not just during a drill.
So how do you get athletes to keep their heads up? Just coach them to do it. If that is the expectation, your athletes will start to do it. Of course, you can give them some help by making the skills more complex. For a few ideas, check out my post on using tennis balls.