Ladders are a super valuable tool for hockey players to improve their footwork, coordination and quickness on the ice. By focusing on your agility while also maintaining stability, ladders help strengthen the key components of a hockey player.
Whether it’s a youth player improving their coordination or an elite player developing foot speed, ladders serve as a tool to improve the traits that translate to getting quicker and more agile on the ice.
But the reality is, not all ladder drills are made equal. While it’s easy to find flashy ladder drills online, we want to cut through the noise to get the most valuable drills specifically for Hockey Players. It’s important to focus on perfecting the right technique in order for a seamless transition when performing these learned skills on ice. Let’s dive in!
DRILL #1: 1 FOOT IN EACH
For the first drill, players step one foot in each square as quickly as possible. Start on one end of the ladder and make your way down. While this seems basic, we want to ensure we’re starting off with good athletic habits - including staying low in our hips, and light on our toes.
DRILL #2: 2 FEET IN EACH
This drill progresses off of the last, this time players must step both feet in each square, before moving onto the next. While the footwork for this drill gets quicker, we still want to ensure we’re staying extra light and low in an athletic stance here. Keep up those habits!
DRILL #3: ICKY SHUFFLE
Let’s mix in some lateral speed. The Icky Shuffle is a more complex ladder drill that begins to focus on side-to-side movements. Start at the end of the ladder off to one side. Move both feet into the first square and out on the other side. Move up onto the next square while continuing this pattern to the side you started on. Continue this movement throughout the ladder. You should alternate between having two feet in the square and one on the outside. This is super valuable for hockey players because it challenges them to be more dynamic as if they’re changing direction.
DRILL #4: FRONT CROSS (FORWARDS AND BACKWARDS)
This ladder drill is incredibly valuable for hockey players because it adds in both linear and lateral speed with a crossover. Player’s always cross into the square, double touch, and then quickly crossover back the other direction. This allows practice for crossovers while focusing on remaining light yet explosive. For elite hockey players, as we finished the ladder we are now going to perform that same movement backwards. This variation is super useful for defenseman to work on improving lateral foot speed while going backwards.
DRILL #5: BACK CROSS
While this exercise might not have a direct translation to an on-ice movement, it’s still incredibly useful for hockey players to challenge their coordination and overall foot work. This encourages your body to increase its range of motion which leads to increased performance when putting these skills to use on-ice. We’ll be utilizing the same pattern as our previous drill - but using a crossover behind our body instead of ahead.
*For the next three drills, you may use the traditional Speed Ladder, or try and challenge yourself with the HockeyShot Boost Ladder.
DRILL #6: LATERAL STEPS
For this drill, we are focusing on lateral movements. Stand and face one side of the ladder. Put both feet in the square and back out before moving onto the next. Remember to stay light and low while doing this. Focus on nailing the footwork and getting both feet in every square. This drill is perfect for hockey players wanting to practice agility and quickness when changing directions.
DRILL #7: HIP ROTATION
Sticking with lateral movements, this drill works on the rotation of your hips. While keeping light on your toes, jump and rotate your hips so that each foot touches each square. This drill increases your hip range of motion optimizing your athletic ability.
DRILL #8: BACKWARDS CROSSOVER
This drill is a bonus specifically for defensemen. As defensemen not only have to be light on their feet while skating forward, they also have to practice this going backwards. Start on one side at the end of the ladder with your back toward it. Backward crossover into the square and out on the other side. Move down the ladder and do this throughout. This not only helps with backwards footwork but also incorporates lateral movements which will be useful when translated to on-ice skating.
The HockeyShot Agility Ladder and Boost Ladder are used for all these drills.