To improve footwork and lateral movement during sports activities, agility ladder exercises should be added to any workout routine. Agility ladder exercises are performed by working one's way quickly and smoothly through a series of obstacles; these obstacles can be cones, or they can be an actual ladder placed on the ground. When performing agility ladder exercises, the athlete should remember that agility and smoothness through the obstacles is more important than speed or working muscles until they are tired. Other muscle-building exercises can be combined with agility drills, but the agility drills themselves are meant to improve footwork, lateral movement, and fast twitch muscle reaction.
The hopscotch drill is one of the most basic agility ladder exercises that works fast twitch muscles and improves coordination. Fast twitch muscles are small muscle fibers that are responsible for quick, agile movements. To do a hopscotch drill, the ladder should be placed in front of the athlete. He or she will lightly jog toward the first rung of the ladder, then hop in between the first and second rungs, landing on both feet. Then he or she will proceed to the gap between the second and third rung, landing on just the right foot. Next, the athlete will jump to the next gap and land on both feet, and then to the next gap, landing on just the left foot. The drill is continued in this manner until the end of the ladder.
The lateral feet drill is one of the more challenging agility ladder exercises, and it requires significantly more coordination and agility to complete. The athlete will start with the ladder on the ground in front of him or her, and he or she will jump forward into the first gap between rungs. Immediately after landing, the athlete will jump to the right and land on both feet outside the ladder. Next, he or she will jump back into the next gap, landing on both feet, followed by a successive jump outside the ladder to the left. The athlete will repeat this until reaching the end of the ladder.
The in-and-out drill is an advanced version of agility ladder exercises. The athlete will begin with the ladder in front of him or her, and will jump into the gap between the first two rungs, landing on both feet. The next jump forward will require the athlete to send the left foot outside the ladder to the left, and the right foot outside the ladder to the right. The athlete should land solidly on both feet before jumping forward and landing in the next gap with both feet together.