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Dribbling Drill: Up The Ladders


The world's best dribblers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo always have two core skills: quick footwork and great balance. Developing these abilities underpins everything else and allows players to move the ball faster than an opponent can respond, misdirect opponents, change direction and accelerate away rapidly.

Dribbling with the ball is probably the most eye catching skill in soccer, and those with a natural flair for it will stand out from an early age: like everything else though, good coaching can help weaker players develop basic aptitude and make great players even better.

One great piece of kit for training speed of footwork is the speed agility ladder. This plastic ladder is placed along the ground and players then have to run through it as rapidly as possible ensuring their both feet land in each gap between rungs.

To make things competitive split players into two equal groups standing in a line about ten yards apart, and with a ladder laid out in front of each group. At the coaches whistle the first player in each line begins his quickstepping dash through the ladder - keep an eye out here for any cheats! Each player has to advance placing first one foot then the other into each rung - they are free to mix up the leading foot if they wish, as long as they don't leap - each movement must be a distinct step.

Once the first player completes the ladder he circles and runs back to the end of his line while the second player in the line begins quickstepping through the ladder and so on. When the final man completes the ladder and returns to the end of his line that team has won the challenge, so either a small prize for them (or forfeit for the losers!) is in order.

If players are sufficiently enthused about this drill you can make it even more competitive by timing them one by one through the ladder with a stopwatch to create an individual winner. This gives them personal bests to aim for, and allows you to track improvement.

Like all drills here, players buy into the activity when it's fun, and when they understand the value on the pitch - a quick time on the ladder in training could become a vital touch to take ball past a defender or round the goalkeeper!

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