Agility Ladder Patterns

Pattern recognition and mastery, rhythm, movement confidence and reaction. Important “passive” skills for athletes. Critical for ASD athletes.

Building on a previous discussion on rhythm and movement confidence, today a little about pattern recognition and mastery.

To master movement, athletes must pass through at least these three “phases” or levels, in my opinion.

1. Recognition – seeing the movement and recognizing it and its component parts. This is where breaking movement down into smaller, less complex parts can help any athlete recognize it.

2. Patterning – the athlete’s brain must, at either/both the conscious or sub-conscious level, connect the visual or instruction to a series of motor control plans. These can then be applied to accomplish the movement as well as the athlete’s physical skill-set will allow.

3. Transference – the athlete needs to be confident enough to attempt what’s been recognized and patterned. Being willing to try (and maybe fail) is important if this process is to lead to successful completion, either immediate or future. Creating an atmosphere in which only success is acceptable may intimidate some athletes and prevent fully actualized attempts. Let them feel like trying and failing is still success, because they tried. (Especially important for ASD or challenged athletes.)

In this example, I’ve built a reaction factor into some agility ladder work.

Andrew has basic movement mastery in 4 basic ladder drills:
Sagittal Plane 1-in (A)
Sagittal Plane 2-in (B)
Frontal Plane 2-in (C)
3 Point Shuffle (“Icky Shuffle”) (D)

After giving each a letter designation (in parentheses above,) I asked him to react to my calls and perform the indicated activity as fast as possible with good form and accuracy.

Because we built basic mastery in these movements, layering in this variation creates deeper, more effective patterning and recognition, along with a subtle, cumulative increase in movement confidence.

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