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Footwork

I would like to share with you a secret about boxing.

You have come to the right place to get the best information! 

But before I share with you this secret, I'd like to tell you how I came to figure it out for myself...

See I don’t like just giving information away without giving the next person the tools to decipher the code for themself.

I was a Novice boxer, turned amateur then graduated to professional. I had much success and started at a later time in my life when I first picked up the gloves.

Most boxers, especially the successful ones start at a young age around 6 to 8 sometimes younger sometimes older.

I started at 17 turning 18…

The point is I never lost as a professional and I was able to do that with heart, determination and you guessed it footwork!

But what’s the secret to footwork? 

Let me show you! 

Welcome back to another round with boxing undefeated giving you the best content on boxing from a professional undefeated boxer

Why is footwork important in boxing

To give you a visual I like to use a house. When you start to build a house you start from the bottom up. This is called the bottom-up approach, this focuses more on the fundamentals in nature.

Our feet are the first part of our body to connect with the ground and stay in constant contact throughout our life.

Your feet affect the performance of the entire body. 

We know they are important but don’t get enough attention or love for what they do for us!

You are watching a boxing match and they usually show only the top half, the most exciting part of the fight right? This is more of a top-down approach focused on the big picture.

This observed avenue shows the end goal only.

The feet are where the magic happens. 

It helps maintain a fighter’s balance, take or give space, deliver effective punches. Combining all these at once will help you flow around a bag, a coach holding mitts, or your opponent in the ring. Looking swift and sharp.

Finally, you end with a solid dance, and let me teach you how to Dougie!

Boxing footwork techniques

  1. Boxing shoes
  2. Narrow stance
  3. Balls of your feet
  4. Small steps
  5. Weight distribution
  6. Connect hands to feet

Boxing shoes

Invest in boxing shoes! 

There is less of that foam that cushions your feet in regular shoes.

The reason why boxing shoes has practically none. Is to grip the floor better and push off explosively. 

You won’t be sliding around in your boxing shoes. 

Try them all to see what best fits your style of fighting and comfort.

Narrow stance

You have a better chance to move around using a narrow stance rather than a wide stance. 

Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent to spring in and out of action.

Balls of your feet

The balls of your feet are between your arch and toes. 

Many sports require this technique for increased agility.

Small steps

Small steps win over long strides most of the time. 

Use long strides when you are closing the gap when you have your opponent hurt. 

Small steps on the inside can help you adjust your angles, keep you balanced, and will improve your consistency 

Weight distribution

Front bodyweight is geared towards slipping and dipping, rear bodyweight sets you up for lean backs and shoulder rolls.

Keep your weight in the middle and you can have the best of both worlds. 

Connect hands to feet

Unlike walking using a natural swing to create momentum, when you step using the opposite arm to swing forward. 

In boxing, you will keep stiff arms up and around your face to protect yourself.

There will be no counterbalancing when using footwork in this sport. You want to stay protected.

Boxing footwork basics

  1. Getting in and out of range
  2. Position advantage
  3. Avoiding danger with footwork

Getting in and out of range

Simply get in range to punch and get out of range to avoid getting punched.

Position advantage

If you have good control of your feet, you can set up your offense and defense by positioning yourself most effectively.

Keep your foot on the outside of a southpaws lead foot and vice versa.

Circling your opponent throwing them in the blender so they cant set their feet to punch. 

Judges look for who is controlling the fight so don’t forget this one this gives you points!

Avoiding danger with footwork

Upper body defense is nice but have you ever tried moving your head by just moving your feet. 

That’s right it sounds crazy but Gennady Golovkin is a master. Watch his fights he doesn’t have fancy head movement but he also doesn’t get hit as much as you’d think without it.

Why? 

He uses his feet to move his head. Add that to your toolbox kids.

Boxing footwork drills

The following are important aspects of footwork that are time-tested fundamentals to improve stroll in the ring.

  1. Jumping rope
  2. Agility ladders
  3. Box jumps
  4. Dancing
  5. Shadowboxing

Jumping rope

As boxers advance their jump rope skills they learn to be quicker on their feet, including enhancing muscle memory, agility, coordination, and endurance.

Rhythm, timing, and consistency will be the keys to jump rope.

Jump rope variation to progress to as you get better:

Regular

Single foot hops, continuously jump over the rope with one foot.

You can alternate feet after a certain amount of hops.

Crisscross

Cross your arms at the elbows, not the wrists you need a good hole to jump through.

Uncross as you go through the hole and repeat.

Backward

Increase your fitness while training your nervous system.

Rotate the wrists backward, as the jump rope moves towards your heels, jump and repeat.

Avoid ducking, crouching. Keep a loose grip while making sure most of the movement comes from the wrists.

High knees

Get some extra cardio in. 

Quickness is developed in how fast your feet hit the ground and come right back off. 

This is similar to running in place.

Double hops

Elevate your heart rate, while getting your calves shredded.

This means the rope will be passing underneath your feet every jump you do.

Rotate the rope faster as well as jumping higher, pushing off both feet at the same time.

Agility ladder

Primary factors are speed, agility, and quickness in addition to strengthening your joints, ligaments, and tendons.

Agility ladder drills:

In and outs

Face the ladder the long way. Both feet will start outside the square. 

Bring one foot in and the next foot follows, then one foot moves out and the opposite follows. 

The feet should not be landing and setting. Stay on your toes to do this quickly. Maintain your body centered over the ladder.

Icky shuffle 

Strat on one side of the ladder let’s just say the left. 

Take a lateral step with your left foot while your right foot follows into the same square.

Then you will step laterally with the left foot and the right foot will come off and lead into the next square.

Lead with the opposite foot as you work your way up the ladder.

Single foot hop

Pick one leg and hop through the entire ladder one way down.

When you reach the end, use the opposite foot to go back.

Box jumps

Perfect for strength, conditioning, and explosiveness.

This requires exerting maximum force in a short duration

Dancing

If you are not moving your feet you are not utilizing your whole body to complete a movement!

Dancing is a fun way to get unstuck if you are feeling stiff through your movement.

Play around with different positions whether it’s one foot or both, so you get comfortable with where your weight is and how to shift between them.

travel ! using your legs means you can mooooove! Move across your living room across the ring, don't stay still use the entire space available to you wherever you are practicing.

Shadowboxing

Shadowboxing is the part of training where you get to slow down and focus on form and how the movement feels.

Be present eliminating all distractions. Become vulnerable allowing yourself to make mistakes with no opponent or coach causing you to react. 

You are free of judgment and are working on fine-tuning what works best for you. 

Feel free to start over and try, try again! So get out of that head if you are feeling stuck and try this basic footwork.

Push off

To move forward in your stance you will push off your back leg. Your lead foot will land first while the backfoot follows.

To go backward you will reverse the process. A push of your lead leg and your rear foot will land first as the front foot follows.

Make sure to push the balls of your feet with bent knees. This is an explosive action and takes a lot of energy.

Keep your head level, meaning you don’t hop up rather move in a straight line forward.

Dragging

It’s probably exactly what you are thinking. Lead footsteps back foot drags.

This technique is a slow walk down towards your opponent’s demise.

Rather than staying light on your toes, you will be a little heavier on your feet.

Keeping your feet connected to the ground will help generate power.

Moving to your right/left

There are two ways to move to either side. Circularly round your opponent to catch your breath or cut them off in straight lines.

Circling is also known as getting on your bicycle. This is used as a defensive strategy to reset and use your footwork to not let the challenger set their offense up.

Cutting off the ring is used to stop someone who is on their bicycle.

While they are using many steps to get around you are taking fewer more precise steps to stop them from getting around you anymore.

Shuffles 

This is the opposite process of push-offs. You will slide the backfoot in place of your front foot. Then release your front foot forward landing on the balls of your feet.

Going backward it will be the actions in reverse starting with the lead foot.

You use less energy using this footwork while covering more ground. If you need to close the distance in a hurry this will be your go-to.

Advanced boxing footwork 

Create angles

A couple of ways you can do this are stepping over into a 45° 

You can dip and step or pivot

Pivots

Let’s say you are an orthodox fighter. 

To pivot to your left, stay light on your front foot while pushing off your back toes into a 45°

To pivot to your right push off your front foot and swivel into a 45°

Common mistakes: Make sure the front foot pivots rather than staying in its starting position.

Switching 

From orthodox to southpaw, drive off your back foot with a good amount of force.

Land on the balls of your feet with the stance staggered to keep balance.

Your original front foot that is now your back foot will be pivoting to give you some swivel as you accept your new stance.

Kickbacks

Move your front foot slightly back.

As your back foot releases to the side a few inches your front foot repositions itself in a normal boxing stance.

It’s like a quick skip back into position!

Extra credit

Here is a bonus drill for my dedicated champs.

Boxing footwork drills for beginners

To keep it simple here are the tools mentioned above beginners should focus on first!

Boxing footwork patterns

Here is an easy pattern you can use and cheap: just grab duck tape and some floor.

Boxing footwork tips

I like to study greats and their footwork, so watch a lot of tape on some of the best like Vasyl Lomachenko, Gennady Golovkin, Pernell Whitaker, Muhamed Ali to name a few.

There is no single footwork rule that you must follow, start with the basics and work your way up to the advanced settings.

The same goes for the drills, start with the simple stuff, master it and move on.

For my flat-footed fighters, this may not be your style of fighting, you may be a power puncher that needs to keep their feet connected to the ground more often than not.

My advice to you is to learn how to do both. 

You don’t want someone dancing around you while your feet are stuck in the sand.

The rounds are passing you by trying to catch them with that one big punch that may never come.

Challenge your boundaries and flow freely in the ring. 

Like Muhamed Ali said “float like a butterfly sting like a bee!”