Footwork is a key skill in boxing that often gets overlooked by many newcomers coming into the sport. They only think about throwing punches on the heavy bag and don’t consider any type of footwork training.
IN FACT, if you were to train your footwork first you would probably be more effective when it comes throwing punches and be better defensively.
Before going onto the actual drills. It’s important to understand why training your footwork is important and how it actually helps you.
I will also share some useful tools you can use to enhance your boxing footwork, along with some very useful videos on some great training drills to try out.
Is Footwork Important for Boxing?
Footwork in boxing is an essential and very important practice in the sport. Having good footwork means you can position and set yourself up to throw punches and combinations, while also forcing your opponent to make positional adjustments.
Good boxing footwork also gives you the ability to counter punch them as they try to adjust to your new position. It also means you can move around more efficiently and comfortably in the ring without feeling awkward while throwing punches.
Here is a brilliant clip from former two weight world champion Andre Ward discussing how “everything starts from the feet” in boxing.
Basic footwork is a key fundamental skill in boxing, it might not be the most exciting, but could just be the most important!
How does Boxing footwork help you?
Rhythm is so vital in boxing and it all starts from the feet in terms of your movement. Whether you want to become an aggressive pressure fighter like Golovkin or Canelo. Or a counter puncher boxer like Muhammad Ali, being able to shuffle and box on the back foot. The rhythm of your movement in the ring with the opponent is absolutely key to set the fight on your terms.
In fact one of the greatest boxers ever Sugar Ray Robinson highlighted the importance of the rhythm in his famous quote below.
“Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that’s in rhythm or you’re in trouble. Your rhythm should set the pace of the fight. If it does, then you penetrate your opponent’s rhythm. You make him fight your fight, and that’s what boxing is all about.”Sugar Ray Robinson
A good example outside boxing is dancing, the best dancers usually have the best rhythm with their footwork movement in timing. It’s no different in boxing, the only big difference if that your doing a method of combat instead.
Having good boxing footwork also will improve your overall balance. Especially when it comes to being slick defensively or even being able to generate enough power when you are punching in boxing.
Think of the best defensive boxers like Floyd Mayweather or Pernnell Whitaker. Their balance is truly exceptional and helps them to move and dodge punches thrown at them through subtle footwork to take them an inch away from being hit.
Even the more offensive boxers, if they are in any way off balance they would be unable to generate their incredible knockout power to take out opponents.
Distribution of weight
Center of gravity is another fundamental footwork aspect you will want to master as this gives you the ability to be in the best position to attack, defend or even counter.
This distribution of your weight works with both your balance and rhythm and once you have nailed those two as part of your footwork. Your weight distribution will essentially be ready for any punch you throw or what is thrown at you in return.
For example: Imagine you are up against an opponent or even training on the heavy bag, you don’t want to put all your weight onto your front or back foot. If you were to do this and get hit you make it easier for the opposition to potentially knock you down easier. However, being able to transfer and balance your weight as you throw punches or move around the ring is crucial to be successful here.
Tools to improve Boxing Footwork
Now jumping rope will be one of the first things you will probably have to learn in boxing. This is a necessity in my opinion in helping you stay on the balls of your feet. It’s also a great form of cardio training, which pretty much all boxers and boxing gyms will implement.
You don’t need to be the world’s greatest at first, but it’s important you become comfortable with this form of training as almost all boxers know this skill.
Now if you are a complete beginner to skipping/jumping rope, you will soon realize it takes A LOT of practice before it becomes comfortable and easy. But just like with anything in life the more you practice the better you will become, I highly recommend you do this 10-15 mins before you start any gym session – it’s a great warm up tool!
If you want to learn how to jump rope for boxing, check out my article here. Or I recommend you check out Crossrope program here, which is a great way to learn how to jump rope quickly. You can also check out my in depth review Crossrope here for more detail.
Now ladder training drills have always really been around and you will have often seen soccer players use this in their training. However these are also extremely useful for boxing footwork training and you can in fact do a lot of different drills with these which makes them a great option to consider.
Here are some basic drills by Tony Jeffries who give some simple easy steps to follow
Fancy trying out some of these drills? Then you can check this ladder drill packs on Amazon. If you don’t have the budget you could always put down tape or use chalk on the ground outside.
Marker Cones / Tape
Similar to what I mentioned above with the ladder drills, but cones or tape are a great way of training your footwork angles or lateral movements. Instead of the forward and backward movements with the ladder drills
Here is a great training drill you can use with them in the gym or at home. This is great for beginners or advanced boxers.
If you want to try this with cones, check out options on Amazon here.
Now this is mainly used to help with footwork speed and strength, while you can also add in punches to help with weight balance and synchronicity between your hands and feet. This is great as you can practice shuffle, lateral and pivote movements which makes a brilliant tool in my opinion.
Check out some aerobic stepper options on Amazon here.
Watch this short clip below which shows some very simple drills to give you a better idea of how to utilise this in training.
Another useful tool that I have recently reviewed is by a company called Powerstance.
They have created a tool to help improve your footwork by placing your feet in the correct and traditional boxing position or stance.
It then forces you to stand in the correct position whilst you train. This therefore helps to discipline you to keep your feet position and give you more focus on footwork.
You can also use this with other typical boxing footwork drills to help create even more discipline with your footwork. Check them out on their website or read my personal review on Powerstance tool here.
Training drills to improve boxing footwork
Shadow Boxing (with footwork focus)
Shadow Boxing is primarily used to help master your punching technique and combinations skill set. It is also used to use your own imagination to imagine yourself facing an opponent where you are simulating punches, movement and defensive movements as if you are in actual fight.
In the case of footwork drills instead of focussing on punching try to put your full attention on just footwork. If you are doing a few rounds of shadow boxing why don’t you do around where you are mainly focusing on lateral movements and pivoting. Even more advanced boxers should consider doing this.
I always enjoyed this great video by FightTips that shows you some useful things to try out while shadow boxing to improve footwork
Cone and ladder drills
Now, when it comes to creating angles as discussed earlier I recommend you check out this great video by Just Boxing, who demonstrates some brilliant drills you can use with cones and ladders.
I know mentioned earlier above but wanted to share this great clip and you definitely take some these to get started in improving footwork.
Using tape for creating angles
Similar to above, however, using tape can be used for those that struggle (beginners) to identify the lines and angles you should move when throwing certain punches.
By constantly doing these drills through repetition you will be able to then create angles when you want or make the movement without tape when sparring or competing. These are very useful for working on switching stance or creating a new attacking angle.
Here is another great video by FightTips who provides square tape exercise to try out:
Boxing footwork is essential in boxing and hopefully by trying out some of these drills above you can improve in these areas. If you are a beginner this is vital that you get familiar with the footwork movements and fundamentals.
If you are a more advanced boxer, it’s still vital that you work on foot drills as part of your routine. Think about the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko, one of the best boxers of our generation and he is still doing ladder drills to improve his footwork. It will definitely keep you sharp and on top of the competition.
I also recommend you get yourself a good pair of boxing shoes, which can really help with pivoting and providing the necessary grip required. Check my boxing shoes review guide here.
So make sure to bookmark this article and get out there and try out some of the equipment and drills in this article.
Thanks for visiting!
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