This might come as a shock, but fast feet will not make you fast. Furthermore, the ability to move your feet quickly will not make you agile. With that out of the way, let's end some misconceptions regarding the "speed ladder" or "agility ladder."
What is Speed?
Simply put, speed is a function of power, which is a product of force multiplied by distance. When you look at some of the world's fastest athletes, you see that they apply more force through the ground and cover a greater distance with each stride. Next time you watch a 100-meter race, count the number of strides Tyson Gay takes to reach the finish line compared to his opponents. In most cases, there will be one- to three-stride difference, and Gay will win. This is huge.
The guys with fast feet will be blown off the line and left in the dust. It's simple. We are talking about the limbs here, not the feet. I'm not concerned about your feet. I'm concerned about your legs and the amount of force they can produce through the ground. You might have the fastest feet in the world, but if you can't put power into the ground, you won't be fast.
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Don't get me wrong—an athlete's performance going through the ladder can be quite pleasing to the eye. That said, keep in mind the training effect you are trying to create in that situation versus the one you are actually getting. Consider using exercises like Deadlifts, Wall Drives, Prowler Pushes and Sled Pulls to get faster.
How Can I Use The Ladder?
Wait! Put the scissors down! We might have a way to use the ladder for good effect. The only thing I ask is that you minimize the amount of time you use it. Use it only during your warm-up for five minutes max. The ladder can potentially be beneficial in terms of neural patterns and firing up your central nervous system. This means it can help activate your muscles and may improve your motor control before a workout. Also, if you use it at the beginning of your workout, it can be a good tool to raise your heart rate and core temperature.
Find some of my favorite ladder movements in the video above.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock