I admit it. As a recreational coach, I’ve had the same gear for years.
- Bag of balls
- Practice Jersey’s (Pinnies)
I never really thought about getting anything else. We’re Rec – we should be worried about teaching solid skills, right? You can setup all sorts of drills with cones and its footwork, footwork, footwork! Stuff like agility ladders, poles, etc are for more advanced kids right? What was I thinking!
After watching how much fun our son’s had using an Agility Ladder at a winter soccer academy, a fellow coach and I decided to get one and see what happened.
We coach a solid U8 Rec Team. However, one problem we noticed last season was many players were not staying on their toes. Standing flat footed on the field, they often got burned. Some players did not have quick feet either. So we each got a ladder and used it at our first practice.
The kids LOVED it. There are many ladder drills out there, but we started off simple enough. The kids thought they would ace even the simplest two feet in each box drill. They quickly realized it was much harder than it looked to get both feet in each box every time and NOT trip over the ladder. We should have gotten them earlier! The kids reacted very positively to the ladders and each practice we spend 10 minutes or so on agility. They love trying out more complex and difficult patterns. We’re already seeing a difference in some of the kids foot speed and agility.
Ladders often cost upwards of $75, but a decent ladder can often be found for $30 or so. If you can afford it or have an assistant willing to get one too, get two. This way players spend less time in ‘line’. We place cones about 1/3 of the way up the ladder and tell the players to start when the person in front reaches the cones. Sometimes we’ll put the ladders one after the other about 15 yards apart and have them practice sprint acceleration from the end of the first to the beginning of the second.
I admit it seemed silly to be getting more advanced field gear for such young kids in a rec league. But even some experts feel agility training is better for young kids than raw speed training. So if you’re looking to liven up your practices and can swing the cost of a new ladder, I’d highly recommend it. We’ve even had coaches ask if they could borrow them to try with their kids and we expect to see more and more of them on the rec fields this season.