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Agility ladders are a great piece of fitness equipment but you may want other options. What are some alternatives with similar benefits?
As the name implies, an agility ladder is a piece of agility and speed exercise equipment. It is a combination of two ropes and plastic ladder rungs that are horizontal in one piece of equipment that is easy to set up and store.
Agility ladders are mainly good for improving coordination and to some extent balance.
Whether you don’t enjoy using agility ladders, you want something with a slightly different focus, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these agility ladder substitutes can offer you similar benefits.
1. Agility cones
Agility cones are small plastic flat cones with the top cut off. This agility ladder alternative is extremely versatile, a lot more than agility ladders. You can vary how you use agility cones to focus on different fitness components.
For example to train agility you can put cones in a line with each time some room in between. As a drill you can then go left of a cone, right of the next cone, left of the next one, etc.
Other options include using them as something to jump over or as markings for sport-specific training exercises. With some creativity there are endless ways of using agility cones.
Another benefit of agility cones is that they are relatively inexpensive. They are definitely not as sturdy as steel workout equipment like a dumbbell but agility cones last a surprisingly long time.
One downside of agility cones compared to agility ladders is that they take more time to set up and then store again. This does allow you to use agility cones over a larger area but it requires more time.
2. Agility poles
Agility poles are another popular option when it comes to agility training equipment and more specifically agility ladder alternatives. These are long poles that can be put straight up, often in grass but some models also stand on flat ground.
Similar to agility cones you can set up these poles for agility drills where you pass them left to right. You can also use agility poles as a target practice obstacle for certain sports like soccer.
The agility training with these poles will obviously not be the exact same as the agility ladder but they can benefit this area of your fitness in a similar way.
An upside of agility poles is that they simulate the obstacles you will encounter in sports or your daily life better. Additionally, agility poles tend to be quite sturdy and durable.
A potential downside is that agility poles generally require a higher investment than agility ladders. Also keep in mind that many of the models of this alternative are made for grass fields only.
3. Balance board
A balance board is an unstable surface where you have to use your balance to stand on it. In turn, this piece of fitness equipment can help you improve your balance and coordination.
This type of balance equipment comes in different shapes and sizes. Some balance boards only allow you to move side to side, others can move in the full 360 degrees.
Balance boards are definitely an agility ladder alternative with a slightly different focus. That being said, getting more comfortable with the movements you have to make to stay balanced contributes to agility in many types of sports.
For example, when making short turns, you need to distribute your weight just the right way to stop yourself from falling and to do the movement successfully. Getting good at balance board exercises can help with this skill.
While they are generally slightly pricier than an agility ladder, balance boards are still very budget-friendly. You can also use this agility ladder alternative to strengthen your ankles which is again something useful for many sports.
A potential downside is that balance boards don’t exactly simulate real-life situations. In a sports match or race you are likely moving at a fast speed and in different directions.
The balance board training does still carry over to these situations but it does not prepare you perfectly.
4. Agility hurdles
Agility hurdles are basically small plastic hurdles. You can these up close together or farther away, possibly in combination with other agility ladder alternatives.
In the agility drills you then jump over or run between these agility hurdles. They are made light enough so that they don’t hurt if you hit them.
A benefit of using agility hurdles instead of an agility ladder is that you get more feedback if you don’t move your body exactly as you think you are.
The feedback that your body did not exactly what your brain intended is important when working on and improving your agility and coordination.
Agility hurdles are also typically more suited for jump and raised knee exercises.
One downside of agility hurdles is that they take a longer time to set up compared to agility ladders. Additionally, this alternative is slightly pricier and requires a bit more storage room.
5. Medicine ball
A medicine ball is a weighted ball that is made from relatively soft material and doesn’t bounce that well. This piece of fitness equipment can be used in types of exercise ranging from rehabilitation training to strength training to agility training.
The main difference with an agility ladder is that medicine balls mainly focus on upper body coordination and agility.
During many medicine ball exercises you inevitably also train these aspects in your legs to some extent but typically not in the same amount as agility ladders. This different focus can be both good and bad depending on your training goals.
A benefit of medicine balls is their versatility. You can use them for training areas like muscle power, muscle strength, rehabilitation, and balance.
One downside of medicine balls is that they require a higher investment than agility ladders. Especially if you want medicine balls of different weights.