The Carioca speed ladder drill can be used by all athletes to improve synergy of the neuromuscular system, footwork, body control and coordination.
During the Carioca speed ladder drill the focus is on improving neural pathways (nervous system signal transmission).
To enhance overall neuromuscular system efficiency since improvements of the neuromuscular system will allow the athlete to move faster on the tennis court.
In particular we want to improve the quick start footwork sequence when rushing sideways to hit ground strokes such as the inside out forehand.
First you have to emphasize perfect movement mechanics of the Carioca Speed Ladder Drill to improve movement economy and hence maximize foot speed because we don’t want to “waste” any energy for undesirable movements.
Once you can perform the Speed Ladder Drill in perfect form you want to increase the speed until you can execute it at maximum velocity before you progress onto the advanced- and professional level (explained below).
Because you are holding a tennis racquet in your hands while moving on the tennis court upper body movement mechanics (arms) don’t have to be in sync with lower body movement mechanics (legs) for maximum performance improvements and hence can be neglected.
Carioca Speed Ladder Drill Description
- Stand sideways; place left foot into the 1st square and the right foot into 2nd square
- Keep hips neutral during movement
- Move the left foot behind the right foot into the 3rd square, then move right foot into 4th square, move the left foot in front of the right foot into the 5th square, and the right foot into the 6th square
- Keep body weight on the balls of the feet (toes)
- Progress down the ladder in a rapid fashion while looking at the feet
- When getting to the end of the ladder “switch legs” and perform same movement going back
Carioca Speed Ladder Drill Progressions
If you use additional weights…make sure you use appropriate weight so you can control the action throughout the entire range of motion. Otherwise you defeat the purpose of the exercise.
Very often, people use too much resistance and they become sloppy. Especially when it comes to maintaining dynamic stability and hitting in the same spots repetitively.
Also, don’t just progress with adding more weight. First, maximize the speed while maintaining perfect form. Next extend the length of the speed ladder.
Increasing the length of the speed ladder makes it more challenging for the nervous system!
Here are the progression levels:
- Beginner: look at your feet while moving through the speed ladder
- Advanced: look forward while moving through the speed ladder
- Professional: look forward & track an object (e.g, coach) while moving through the speed ladder
Related Speed Ladder Drills
- Lateral Posterior Cross Over Speed Ladder Drill
- Lateral Anterior Cross Over Speed Ladder Drill
- Fast Feet Speed Ladder Drill
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