In college, a group of friends and I took a road trip from Illinois to California with activities like surfing, hiking and bungee jumping in the agenda once we got there. Along the way we stopped in Salt Lake City to take obligatory pictures of standing on the salty lake. On the way back to the car, I sprained my ankle pretty badly by rolling it in the gravel parking lot. Lame, right? Out of all the things we did on the trip, that was how I injured myself? That embarrassing moment has plagued my sports career ever since and have had to keep up with ankle strengthening every time I think about playing. If I could sprain my ankle just WALKING, then I surely could sprain it again skating/running/playing dodgeball/WALKING.
With that being said, creating ankle strength and speed at the same time can be a daunting task. If 1-footed balance exercises are already in your weekly program, I am very proud of you. But if you are ready for the next level, try this 1-foot lateral zig zag hop drill to put that ankle strength in movement. This drill is advanced level, so if you know your ankles are still weak or recovering from injury, do not attempt this drill.
1-Foot Lateral Zig Zag Hop
Start on your left foot with your left leg slightly bent at the ankle and knee. You will want to perform this drill from a slightly athletic position rather than standing straight up. From the outside of the ladder closest to you, hop into the first rung then forward on the other side of the ladder farthest from you. You will then jump backwards into the 2nd rung and back on the outside. Repeat the movement all the way to the end on the same foot and then execute the drill on your right foot coming back to the start. This drill is killer so you will only want to do the drill once or twice on both legs until you have built up the strength to complete 3 to 5 times.
ADOTW Pro Tips
- Use your whole body to perform the drill: swing your arms and drive the actions with both your hips and legs.
- Look up! Train as if you were training for your sport, so don’t be caught looking at your feet when you could be focusing your eyes on what is happening around you.
- Form over speed: do a run through once or twice at a slower pace to get the rhythm and form right. Speed in these drills won’t benefit you if you are running through them like a wacky waving inflatable tube man. Once you’ve gotten a handle on technique, go for speed.