Good boxing footwork is one of the most important attributes you’ll need to be successful in boxing. If you look at all the top boxers, most of them will either have good or superior footwork, to name just a few: Floyd Mayweather, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Vasyl Lomachenko, Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao.
Without good footwork these elite boxers wouldn’t have been able to achieve what they already have. Fortunately there are ways to improve your boxing footwork by practicing footwork drills which we’ll go into more depth on below. Before you get started I would recommend wearing a good pair of boxing shoes.
Good footwork allows you to move into different positions and create angles to attack your opponent more effectively. Furthermore, it will also improve your defensive capabilities by enabling you to move into different positions making it more difficult for your opponent to attack you.
Without further ado, in no particular order here are 7 ways on how to improve boxing footwork:
In my opinion, skipping is a must for any boxer even if you don’t compete. If you don’t know how to skip then check out my guide on how to skip for beginners which will walk you through with a step by step guide.
Aside from improving your footwork, skipping has other benefits such as: Improving your cardio, toning your muscles, co-ordination, balance, foot speed, etc. There are countless drills and exercises you can do with a jump rope so you can keep improving.
It’s cheap to get started and it can be done from pretty much anywhere. All you’ll need to do is grab yourself a decent skipping rope, make sure it’s one where the rope length can be adjusted as the standard length is usually quite long.
Agility ladder footwork drills are used in many sports that require quick footwork, these sports include: Football, basketball, rugby, tennis, boxing, etc. There are plenty of different boxing footwork drills you can do on an agility ladder so mix it up to ensure you’re sufficient in all areas.
Once you’re comfortable with using an agility ladder, you should be able to change directions of the body in an efficient and effective way, as this is the definition of agility. Alongside that, it’ll also improve your balance, foot speed, balance and co-ordination.
Part of complete footwork involves explosiveness, most of this explosive power will come from your legs. One of the best ways to develop explosive power is to workout with a plyometric box by doing box jumps and other plyometric exercises to increase this type of power.
Box jumps is one of the most popular plyometric exercises, but this can be very effective if you gradually increase the height of the box as you develop more strength. Other effective exercises also include: Death jumps, lateral jumps, weighted step ups, etc.
Having good explosive power will mean you’ll be stronger and faster. For your footwork, it means you can shift your entire body from one place to another quicker, essentially increasing your foot speed. Combine this explosive strength with any type of boxing punch and you’re bound to do a lot more damage.
Unlike punching a hanging heavy bag, since shadow boxing doesn’t require you to punch a bag, you’ll develop better balance as usually the force of your punch hitting the bag prevents you from throwing yourself off balance.
When shadow boxing, you should try to visualise sparring with someone using plenty of movement. This will give you a good workout and improve your footwork as you’re constantly on the move throwing punches and staying on balance. It’ll also tone up pretty much your whole body as those muscles are used as well.
If you’re able to shadow box in front of a large mirror then this will be ideal, as you’ll be able to see your feet positioning easier and know what you need to work on. Don’t put too much force into your punches, doing this can damage your joints and cause injuries.
Good movement involves pivoting to change the angle at which you face your opponent. Shadow boxing or a punching bag that you can move 360° around are great workouts that’ll allow you to practice pivoting. Make sure you wear boxing boots for this as it’ll allow you to pivot easier.
Sparring is definitely one of the best ways to improve your footwork, remember that sparring is to help each other learn and develop. It’s the closest you’ll get to an actual boxing fight, so it’s perfect for practicing footwork techniques you learned. Please make sure you have suitable sparring gloves to protect you and your sparring partner.
Another great way to further improve your footwork is by asking your sparring partner to be the aggressor whilst you use your feet and movement to avoid getting hit. This will improve your defensive ability and then after switch roles so you can practice using your feet to attack.
Mirroring your partner
Basically you’re doing the opposite of what your partner does, if he moves forward, you move back, if he moves to the left, you move to the right. Maintain around an arm’s length distance between each other and once you’re done, switch roles.
This drill helps you to maintain distance between you and your opponent and improve your reaction time. Sometimes you will mirror your opponent’s move as you don’t want to let him move into a position that’ll give him an advantage over you.