The weekend warrior workout

To improve your performance on the field or court, train like an athlete.

Whether you play in a Saturday soccer league or shoot hoops in a pickup game, strength and endurance will prevent you from looking (and feeling) like a rookie. But to perform at your peak and avoid injuries, you also need agility—the combination of speed and coordination that helps athletes sprint, stop, turn on a dime, and then run again.

To boost this sporty skill, lay down a ladder. “Ladder drillsimprove your speed, boost your coordination, and teach you how to control your center of mass,” says Ronald Jean, a Tier X coach at Equinox Beverly Hills. “Plus, they increase your aerobic capacity and strengthen your muscles.”

In the slideshow below, Jean demos five of his favorite ladder moves for challenging the upper and lower body. Perform the workout regularly, ideally a few weeks before your first game.

TO DO IT: Two or three times a week, perform the routine below as a circuit,doing each move for 30 to 60 seconds in order without resting in between.Then repeat the entire circuit once more. If any exercise is too challenging, follow the instructions to “take it down a notch.”

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  • 1. In-In, Out-Out

    1. In-In, Out-Out

    Stand straddling the ladder lengthwise, body centered over a square. Quickly step right foot in square, then left foot; immediately step right foot outside the square to the right and left foot to the left. Repeat. To increase the challenge, move forward as you go. 

    Take it down a notch: Instead of running, step your feet in and out of the square.

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  • 2. Explosive Lateral Push-Up

    2. Explosive Lateral Push-Up

    Get in plank position parallel to the ladder with left hand in the center of a square and right hand on the ground beside it. Bend elbows, lowering chest toward the ground, then powerfully push up as you hop your feet and hands to the left. Land with right hand in the center of the square with feet and left hand on the ground beside it. Repeat in the opposite direction to return to the starting position. Continue, moving from side to side.

    Take it down a notch: Skip the push-up and do a walking plank instead, slowly walking your feet and hands from side to side.

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  • 3. Lateral Shuffle

    3. Lateral Shuffle

    Stand with right side next to one end of the ladder. Quickly step right foot, then left foot, into the square to the right. Repeat, moving at a quick pace to the right. When you reach the end of the ladder, repeat the shuffle, this time moving to the left and leading with left foot. Continue, shuffling from side to side.

    Take it down a notch: Begin by walking, then slowly pick up the pace as you get more comfortable.

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  • 4. Lateral Single-Leg Hop

    4. Lateral Single-Leg Hop

    Stand in a square close to one end of the ladder and shift weight to left leg, bending right knee so right foot is behind you. Hop to the right for three squares, landing in each square with left foot. Then hop to the left for three squares. Continue, hopping from side to side on one leg. Switch legs halfway through set.

    Take it down a notch: Hop with both legs, moving at a slow pace.

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  • 5. Single-Leg Hop to Jump

    5. Single-Leg Hop to Jump

    Stand in one square, facing an end of the ladder lengthwise. Shift weight to left leg and bend right knee, raising foot behind you. Hop twice, then jump straight up with both feet; repeat. Switch legs (hop on right leg) halfway through set.

    Take it down a notch: Do two small jumps with feet together, then one higher jump.

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