A Ladder Activity That You And The Kids Will Love
I think that ladders are useful tools but not necessarily for the reasons many people would expect.
I use them as an aid when teaching novice hurdlers.
How to Use the Ladder
As shown by the photo above, I task the athletes to run through the ladder with the added challenge of mini hurdles placed over some of the rungs.
I will often allow the athletes to choose the number, positioning and height of the hurdles.
I will sometimes use alternative obstacles, such as dots, for the kids to quickly step over.
A combination of hurdles and dots is often really popular!
The Purpose of Using the Ladder
The reasons for using the ladder in this way are abundant:
This activity is valuable for promoting a quick lead leg touch down after a hurdle. The constraints of the ladder spacings force the kids to get their feet down quickly and close to each hurdle.
The constraint of the narrow ladder also encourages a vertically aligned lead leg.
NOTE: If the kids swing their legs around the hurdles, the obstacles may be too high. Drop the height of the hurdle if you can. You can also try pegging a half pool noodle upright on either side of one or more hurdles to further constrain the movement.
There are a number of hurdles-related fundamental skills and abilities that can be developed during this ladder activity and its many variations.
A even, consistent stride rhythm, which is so important in hurdling, can be rehearsed.
The ladder spacings and obstacles challenges and allows the kids an opportunity to develop their spatial awareness, agility and general coordination.
Due to its novelty and challenge, this activity immediately grabs the athletes’ attention.
Allowing the kids to choose the number, height and placings of the hurdles, permits them to have some input and therefore some autonomy during the session. They can choose whether to progress or regress the activity as they desire (under the watchful eye of the coach!)
By giving them some autonomy to design their own drill, they are being encouraged to be creative.
How It Can Fit Into A Session
This is how such an activity has looked as part of my sessions in the past:
- The athletes run through the ladder several times with no obstacles.
- Progressively add obstacles (mini hurdles) to the ladder.
- Allow the athletes to move or add mini hurdles to the ladder.
- Add some ground dots to the ladder.
- Allow the athletes to shuffle mini hurdles and ground dots around to make the activity as interesting and challenging as they like.
- Remind the kids that the space after each hurdle or dot must be clear.
- As the coach, reserve the final say over what the athletes create. Some kids will get really carried away and create an activity that progresses too much in difficulty, causing technical breakdown or even a potential safety issue. If this is the case, step in. Praise them for their creativity and sense of challenge, then suggest adjustments that regresses the activity to a sensible level.
Over to You!
If you have access to the necessary equipment, try this activity. If you are lacking some of the equipment, can you adapt the ideas? I would love to hear how it goes. Let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by using the below contact details.
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Anchor or via email.