If you’re looking to increase your agility, the agility ladder is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can use.  

It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner or an advanced athlete looking to perfect their game; the agility ladder is excellent.  

In this article, you’ll discover 10 of the best agility ladder drills you can do to improve your speed, agility, and quickness.  

There are many benefits to using the agility ladder during your workouts. Here are 5 of the most beneficial:

1. Improves Heart Health 

The agility ladder provides you with one of the best cardio workouts. It increases your heart rate, pumping blood around your body faster.

Doing so several times a week is optimal for your heart’s health. The CDC states you should perform 150 minutes of physical activity per week; the agility ladder is an excellent way of doing this [1]. 

Improving your heart health is one of the best ways to avoid heart disease, often linked to inactivity.  

2. They Burn A Ton Of Calories 

The agility ladder is a fantastic way of burning calories to aid weight loss. Using the agility ladder is classed as a type of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), which are short, intense bursts of exercise followed by a short break [2]. It’s a helpful way of burning calories in a short amount of time.  

3. Improves Speed, Agility, And Quickness 

Both professional athletes and exercise newbies can benefit from performing agility ladder drills. They help you develop speed, agility, and quickness, which are attributes you need for many sports.  

Using an agility ladder will improve your athletic performance while boosting your overall fitness levels, which will aid you when playing your favorite sports. Sports such as football, boxing, martial arts, baseball, basketball, soccer, etc 

4. It Keeps Your Brain Sharp 

By performing an agility ladder HIIT workout, you’re not only training your body but your mind too. Agility ladder drills keep your mind thinking and require focus, concentration, and coordination.  

They even help combat one of the hardest-hitting illnesses, Alzheimer's disease. A 2008 study showed training your balance and coordination helped retain more control in patients who didn’t participate [3]. 

5. It Keeps Your Training Fun 

Even though agility ladders are tough, they’re extremely fun and can bring a new lease of life to your training.  

Introducing agility ladder drills into my client’s workouts keeps things fresh and fun. Everyone gets bored occasionally; adding agility ladder drills to your workout can help combat this.  

10 Best Agility Ladder Drills (Workouts For Sports Training)

While there are hundreds of agility ladder drills that you can implement into your workout routine, these 10 are the best in my opinion. Add some of these to your workout to improve your agility. 

1. One Step 

One Step

The one-step, also known as the "forward step," is one of the simplest ladder drills for agility. It involves you placing one foot at a time inside each box as you're traveling forward.  

There are multiple progressions for this agility ladder workout; the next stage is to place both feet inside the box before moving forward. You can also travel forwards and backwards for added difficulty.  

This agility ladder drill focuses heavily on footwork and coordination and is one of the best agility ladder drills for runners. It helps you coordinate your arms movements with your feet while traveling across a set distance.  

This was one of the first agility ladder drills I learnt as a teenager and I still use it today during my conditioning circuits and bootcamp classes. 

Benefits:

  • Improves running technique.
  • Can improve sprint speed.
  • Coordinates your arms and feet.

How to do it: 

  1. Stand at the foot of the ladder and place one foot in the first box.
  2. Lift the opposite leg and place it next to the other.
  3. As that leg enters the box, the other leg leaves and moves forward.
  4. Repeat this process until you’ve completed the ladder.

Tips From A Trainer!

When performing this agility ladder workout, it’s essential to focus on perfecting the movement first rather than aiming for speed; speed will come with time. 

2. Side Step 

Side Step

This agility drill is similar to the one mentioned above; however, rather than moving forward, you’re moving sideways. The side step trains your movement along the lateral plane, helping you coordinate your movements left and right.  

This is one of the best agility drills for tennis players as they spend much of the tennis match tracking side to side.  

I've used this movement during boxing classes as it helps improve your footwork in the lateral plane. 

benefits:

  • Improves lateral movement. 
  • Ideal for sports specific training. 
  • Improves coordination.

How to do it: 

  1. Stand side onto the ladder.
  2. Place your right foot in the first box.
  3. Lift your left leg and place it in the first box with your right leg.
  4. As your left leg enters the box, put your right foot in the second box.
  5. Repeat until you reach the end of the ladder.

Tips From A Trainer!

Be sure to head back to the start while facing the same direction; this ensures you work both sides equally. 

3. Crossover 

Crossover

The crossover agility ladder drill is a brilliant variation you can add to your training if you participate in sports such as football, soccer, boxing, and even baseball.  

It involves running sideways, crossing your feet over each other as you work your way along the ladder. Doing so helps improve your lateral quickness, which helps during sports where lateral tracking is involved.  

benefits:

  • Improve coordination. 
  • Great for sports specific training. 
  • Develops faster footwork.

How to do it: 

  1. Stand side onto the ladder.
  2. Place your right foot in the first box and bring your left foot in front and across.
  3. Repeat the movement until you reach the end of the ladder.
  4. Work the opposite side by heading back to the start.

Tips From A Trainer!

Start this movement slowly, nail the movement pattern and then increase your speed accordingly. 

4. Walking Push Up Ladder 

Walking Push Up Ladder

The walking push up is an agility ladder drill with a difference; it uses your entire body.  

The walking push-up ladder helps you develop your hand and feet coordination as they need to work in conjunction with each other to complete the drill.  

This exercise is perfect for combat-based sports such as boxing or mixed martial arts as they combine strength and agility; both attributes are needed for these sports. I've had the pleasure of performing this exercise many times in my MMA classes... it's a killer. 

benefits:

  • Ideal for combat sports. 
  • Improve hand and foot coordination.
  • Develops core stability.

How to do it: 

  1. Place yourself in the push-up position with a hand placed in boxes one and two of the ladder.
  2. Perform a push-up and at the top of the movement, walk your hands over to the next box.
  3. Repeat this movement until you reach the end of the ladder.
  4. Head back to the start while working the opposite side.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you can't perform a regular push-up, this movement isn't for you. Instead, remove the push up portion of the movement, you'll still work your core a hell of a lot.  

Related Article - Push Up Bar Workouts

5. Jumping Jack Feet 

Jumping Jack Feet

This drill will be pretty familiar to you if you used to play hopscotch in the local park as a kid.  

It involves taking both feet in and out of the ladder simultaneously while traveling forward along the ladder. It's a simple movement and is one of the best beginner agility ladder drills.  

It’s also one of the best agility ladder drills for soccer, which involves having to move your feet quickly to block a football.  

In my opinion, if you're a beginner looking for entry level agility drills, this one is ideal for you. 

benefits:

  • Ideal for beginners. 
  • Improves your foot movement. 
  • Increases movement speed.

How to do it: 

  1. Using both feet, jump into the first box.
  2. Next, jump to the outside of box two with both feet landing on either side of the ladder.
  3. Jump into the next box using both feet.
  4. Repeat these steps until you've traveled along the entire ladder.

Tips From A Trainer!

Both feet should land simultaneously during every jump.   

More Exercises - Best Plyo Box Workouts

6. Centipede 

Centipede agility ladder drill

The centipede is another advanced agility ladder drill that beginners might struggle to grasp. It involves moving in and out of the ladder while going sideways in the “2 in, 2 over, 2 out” count.  

I’ve found this advanced agility ladder drill is an excellent cardio workout and helps you burn a shed load of calories, aiding weight loss.  

If you're new to agility ladder drills, give this one a miss. Try the exercise above this one instead. 

benefits:

  • Excellent cardio workout. 
  • Burns a lot of calories. 
  • Ideal for more advanced gym-goers.

How to do it: 

  1. Stand facing the side of the agility ladder.
  2. Step in with both feet.
  3. Move across one box with both feet.
  4. Step out with both feet.
  5. Step back inside with both feet.
  6. Repeat this movement pattern.
  7. Head back the opposite way once you reach the end of the ladder.

Tips From A Trainer!

Combine this movement with the crossover agility ladder drill for an advanced agility ladder super set. 

7. Single Foot Hops 

Single Foot Hops

You’ve probably already guessed this one... it’s exactly how the name sounds. It involves you hopping into the boxes as quickly as possible, using only one leg at a time.  

It’s a brilliant way to train each leg iso-laterally, so there is no side moving slower than the other. It’ll also help you identify any imbalances you might have developed throughout training.  

Another benefit of performing single foot hops is that it tests your dynamic balance and lower body endurance. This is one of the best agility ladder drills for basketball, involving leaping using one leg.  

benefits:

  • Irons out imbalances. 
  • Increases lower body endurance. 
  • Improves jumping ability.

How to do it: 

  1. Face the ladder while standing on your right leg.
  2. Hop into the first box with your right leg (without placing your left foot down).
  3. Hop forward into box two, remaining on your right leg.
  4. Repeat until you reach the end of the ladder.

Tips From A Trainer!

Always start on your weakest side first; this will then set the pace of the training session for the opposite leg.   

8. Double Foot Shuffle 

Double Foot Shuffle

This agility ladder drill is one of the more complicated on this list, making it an excellent agility ladder drill for more advanced gym-goers or athletes.  

It involves stepping forward along two ladder rungs and then stepping back one. Think of it as two steps forward, one step back.  

The double foot shuffle is one of the better agility ladder drills for football, as it simulates similar foot movement patterns that you’d perform during a game. 

benefits:

  • Ideal for football training.
  • Increases foot coordination.

How to do it: 

  1. Place your right foot into the first box, followed by the second.
  2. Repeat step 1 and move into box two.
  3. Step backwards with both feet back into box one.
  4. Move forward into box two and then box three.
  5. Repeat the steps above. Remember two steps forward, one step back.

Tips From A Trainer!

While it’s more complicated to perform, it’s often best to start slowly with this one and speed up the movement once you get the hang of it.  

9. Lateral Hop Step 

Lateral Hop Step

This agility drill is similar to the single foot hops but with only one change: you hop sideways along the ladder.  

If you managed the forward single-foot hops and thought that the lateral hop step ladder drill would be a walk in the park, think again. It’s a tough challenge and will test your dynamic balance as you move along the ladder sideways.  

As this drill involves a lot of lateral movement, I’d say it’s one of the best agility ladder drills for tennis. Still, you can also argue it’s suitable for many sports such as basketball, softball, baseball, and football.  

benefits:

  • Improves your lateral movement. 
  • Tests your dynamic balance.
  • Helps develop knee stability.

How to do it: 

  1. Stand side onto the ladder.
  2. Shift your weight to one foot and hop into the first box.
  3. Hop across into the next box without placing your other foot down.
  4. Repeat until you reach the end of the ladder and head back to the start.

Tips From A Trainer!

Combine this movement with the forward hops for a great iso-lateral super set.  

10. River Dance 

River Dance agility ladder

No, I'm not talking about the popular Irish dance...

This advanced agility ladder drill is one of the best for martial artists and boxers. It's an extremely footwork-intensive drill that beginners might struggle to get the hang of.  

It involves crossing the feet, which is helpful during the defensive movements during a fight or sparring session. The river dance drill will increase your balance during these situations and can also improve your motor function during these situations.  

I can't stress enough that this should only be attempted by more advanced gym-goers, it's tough. 

benefits:

  • Great for combat sports training. 
  • Improves your footwork. 
  • Develops coordination.

How to do it: 

  1. Stand facing the side of the ladder.
  2. Step forward with your right foot, placing it inside box one.
  3. Take your left foot and step behind and across your right leg.
  4. Remove your right leg behind box two and repeat.
  5. Return to the start while working the left side.

Tips From A Trainer!

Begin this movement slowly and build up speed as you begin to learn the movement pattern.  

Frequently Asked Agility Ladder Questions

How do you make a homemade agility ladder? 

The easiest way to make your own agility ladder is to use chalk to mark out an agility ladder on the floor Or, you could make a physical version of an agility ladder using wooden or plastic slats and rope.  

How often should you do agility ladder drills? 

You can perform agility ladder drills 3-4 times per week, depending on how your other workouts are structured. By performing agility drills combined with strength training, you’ll be way ahead of your competition.  

How long should agility workouts be? 

Your agility ladder workouts should be around 15-20 minutes, and this allows you to keep the training intensity high without causing too much fatigue. Agility ladders are about speed, do it too long, and you’ll slow down during the session.  

How many boxes are in an agility ladder? 

The number of boxes in an agility ladder varies. Some agility ladders have 8 rungs, while others have 15, and I’ve found that the average agility ladder comes with 12 rungs like the F1TNERGY Speed Ladder, which is my personal favorite.

Conclusion

If you’ve been looking to up your agility while giving yourself an excellent cardio workout, the agility ladder is a fantastic piece of equipment to use.  

The list above gives you 10 of the best drills you can perform, whether you’re an agility newbie or a seasoned pro.  

Try adding some agility ladder drills to your training program and watch your agility skyrocket.  

References:

1.https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

2.https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/high-intensity-interval-training-hiit

3.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18401810/

Last Updated on October 10, 2023

Photo of author

Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.