Why Speed Ladders Don't Work

Why Speed Ladders Don’t Work


The best way to train an athlete to get faster is by using equipment that has speed in the name, right? Speed ladder must mean you will increase the amount of force necessary to move faster if you do them every day, correct? Using them will make you have quicker feet, which will translate to the field, seriously? These are all the perception of speed ladders, none of which have any science to back them up that they actually work. Yet you will see every football team using them to make their kids quicker and better at football even though they do not actually work. Have you seen videos of Saquon Barkley using speed ladders, or have you seen him cleaning 400 lbs? and squatting 495 lbs. for 7 reps? You ever see Michael Vick using a speed ladder, or have you seen him squat 600 lbs. as a sophomore at Virginia Tech? The fastest athletes, you do not see use speed ladders.

Speed ladders make you think that practicing to make your feet move faster, must mean you are getting quicker or faster. This is definitely not the case. I remember my college football coach would get on us for unnecessary steps out of our stance. He would always say it is “motion without purpose”. I played linebacker, so once the ball was snapped you didn’t want to step back to go forward or start moving sideways and then have to get downhill, it was the first step needs to be in the direction to tackle the ball carrier. To me, this is the perfect saying for speed ladders. Motion without purpose, picking your foot up and then putting it back down in the same area without moving very far forward or sideways.

Speed comes from the recruitment of quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves all working together at one time. Speed ladders never truly activate your hamstrings which then actually shorten your stride while running. A runner’s stride is of huge importance, the length, and frequency. So how do you lengthen the strides for runners? More and more plyometrics, things like single leg bounds or anything to fully lengthen the hamstring while recruiting fast twitch muscles to react fast.

If you don’t use speed ladders, what do you use to get faster and increase your speed? Well, the first thing is that there is a technique to running, so learning and working on the technique of running would be the first step. As you are learning the technique, the second step is to get stronger! Strength means you have more power output, which means you can move faster and increase your speed. The third tribute would be to lengthen your stride with plyometrics and strength training exercises. Hard work, understanding how to run, and strength gains will help you increase speed, not using speed ladders.

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