You might often hear or see an agility ladder and think of speed. The reason is because many people use the terms speed and agility. What do you think athletes should learn first, speed or agility? I believe agility should be taught/learned first because players become coordinated and can change directions much easier. Speed can come later, once the agility is first set in place. In this article you will learn which ages have trouble with agility / coordination and which exercises are good for each age and level. There are both basic and advanced exercises with videos below.
Age breakdown for agility development
- Ages 5-6 are obviously not coordinated and need to do things slow. Don’t worry about doing advanced exercises, just pick 3-5 basic drills and get them down. Forwards and sideways exercises are good to start with.
- Ages 7-8 start to become more coordinated, so keep doing the fundamentals and start to add in a few more. Add in some backwards movements using the agility ladder.
- Ages 9-10 kids can be very athletic, but even the best athletes at this age will struggle with proper agility movements. Things like pumping the arms and getting the knees high – opposite leg and arms is challenging. The kids might be confident and say it’s easy, but often times they don’t do it the correct way.
- Ages 11-12 are able to do just about anything you show them. Continue with the basics, but introduce the most challenging drills. Let speed and quickness be more of the focus, as long as they are doing it with good form.
- Ages 13 – adult you can add in a ball.
When to use the agility ladder
Ladders are good for helping players with coordination, but it’s not something you need to do every week. Once you become smooth and quick, all you need is enough to stay sharp. Two ideas when using a ladder are 1) practice the drills for 4-6 weeks so that they soak it into the muscle memory. Then don’t use it for a few months to get a break from it. 2) Use it only one or two practices per month throughout the year, opposed of doing it every week.
More than anything, you want the players to build coordination/agility and then just stay sharp. We don’t want players to get bored with doing the same things over and over, unless it’s your important technique, like short passing and first touch.
3 soccer agility drills using a ball
First exercises in the video below is one most players ages can do regardless of skill. It’s the most tiring one and really any age can do it. With practice you will get it, just take it slow and get it right.
Second exercise is basically in and outs with one foot and then the other foot steps in each square of the agility ladder. It looks harder than it really is.
Third exercise is technically the hardest. Make sure you step down between every touch, ESPECIALLY after the roll.
Soccer agility ladder fundamentals
Some people think of fundamentals as easy or for beginners. Really fundamentals is what you should first learn and then what you should always continue to stay sharp at, no matter how old or good you are. As a player you have to have a strong mindset and not have an arrogant attitude about your ability. Too many people nowadays think that because they are good or know something they don’t have to keep practicing. To be the best you it’s vital that you try to be perfect at the simple things.
Strong character plays a huge role in sports. Think about different pro athletes. Tom Brady, Messi, Ronaldo, Marta, Serena Williams & Kobe Bryant. All have/had the highest desire to keep improving, even though they are or were the best in their sport.
Kids who have the attitude to want to keep improving and then practice the simple things over and over are the ones who get ahead in the long run.
3 person passing drill using an agility ladder
The agility ladder drill below is challenging and fun for all 3 players. The outside players have to look up, make precise passes on time and move back as the player in the ladder moves forward. You can also do volleys by having the players on the outside with the ball in their hands and tossing for a volley pass.
Prevent long lines having multiple agility stations
When dealing with teams or groups, you don’t want to have players standing in a line. Wasting time is not what we want to do right? So what you can do is have 2-4 stations. In the picture below we have a group with different stations. One is the agility ladder and the other one is a bunch of cones and a size 1 soccer ball to dribble through. Players love new fresh ideas, so keep things innovative and changing from time to time.
Even if a player has to wait 5-10 seconds before doing the next station, it’s better than them standing in a boring line. There are so many ways to adapt your training sessions, just use your imagination, but keep it realistic. Think about how you can improve in the right ways to help you improve in soccer. Conditioning, agility, skills are all elements to implement.
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