What rings your bell when you listen to the word, boxing?
Punches, power, knockouts, and the sheer manifestation of heart, mind, and will.
What doesn’t come to your imagination is the expert technique responsible for what happens inside the ring. One indispensable aspect is footwork.
Does anyone remember the movie, “Rocky 4”?
Silvester Stallone displayed exactly how important is footwork for victory and eventual glory.
Footwork makes us move from one point to another swiftly without letting our opponents predict our moves.
It maintains our offense mechanism and ensures we are in vital positions to generate our best possible combinations.
It also lets us get rid of tricky spots and is the hallmark of great defense.
With it, boxers create and move in angles.
They accurately estimate distance and, thus, the ideal time to get in and out of danger. Without brilliant footwork, you will be crushed by your rival.
When it comes to padding and footwork drills the best punching bag drills, sizes, and stands are a must-have for the home.
Here is an exciting series of boxing footwork drills for enhancing your moves. Master these or be squared.
Top Footwork Drills
The Jump Rope
This may appear to be a very elementary exercise in boxing but is highly intricate in its later stages.
As a beginner, Knowing How to jump rope to get ripped can be really beneficial to you since it’s a way to lose weight and better your stamina.
It’s a kind of workout. It’s tough but once you get into the groove and rhythm, it turns into a habit. Also choosing the best kickboxing gloves and the best gloves for punching bag helps.helps.
It makes your mind tuned with your entire body – each and every organ.
By gaining full control of the lower body, your footwork improves by leaps and bounds.
You can move with absolute freedom in the ring while your execution is flawless.
The Agility Ladder
This isn’t a traditional arsenal in boxing and has been introduced into training only recently as an asset for expertise in footwork.
It can be used in multiple ways in many variations of drills. It teaches boxers how to use their feet in various movements, naturally or not. Moreover, it builds rhythm and fluidity.
The box jump is a drill that makes a boxer bombastic. When he moves across the ring, glides easily, and runs around circles, he must be explosive enough to instantly shift between different modes in the fighting. Box jump grants more spring in the bounce.
There are many different drills that boxers can perform. The difficulty is increased by raising the height of the platform to various levels.
You can do drills at different speeds, slow or fast. Drills include marching box jumps, single-step jumps, and double feet jumps. The more you repeat performing it, the more you master it and exhibit it in your performances at the ring.
Although it is seen as only a warm-up drill, its impact reaches far beyond just sweating.
It is one of the most significant parts of training with special benefits.
Practicing in front of a mirror doesn’t sound like a professional fighter but there are many benefits. Firstly, it’s a very accessible method. You don’t need to be in a gym. When you look at yourself performing, you will notice various flaws in your movements difficult to correct. Shadowboxing is a proven way to master your footwork. You will move like a champion very soon.
Observation and Analysis
Surprisingly, one extremely important drill doesn’t involve any physical activity.
All that is required is watching tapes of how great boxers attained greatness. Study and analysis form a major part of a boxer’s career. Learning how to acquire mastery by simply watching footage of giants performing is essential to the development of a world-class athlete.
Watch your favorite boxers online. Thanks to technology, a huge pool of resources is in your hand. See how they move their feet.
The next time you are in the ring, inculcate their techniques in your boxing portfolio. No wonder, imitation is a hidden ingredient of creativity. Not far away is the time when you’ll be a pro in the limelight.
Some Advanced Drills for Those Aiming for Perfection
Initiate the drill with a simple warm-up. Move ahead across the ring as if in a fight parallel to the ropes with your lead foot moving first. The backward movement should be the opposite – back foot first and the lead foot next. Then you need to move diagonally in the ring side to side.
Practice these movements at varying speeds to warm up your legs for the drills that come next.
Square Footwork Drills
You need to mark out a square for this drill. A boxing ring is perfect but if you don’t have access to one then you can tape out a square in any space and start the drill. Take your stance in one corner and move forward diagonally to the opposite corner.
Move-in a horizontal way to the nearest corner, left or right.
Next, you will move diagonally backward to the other corner.
Then horizontally to the nearest corner. Keep up this pattern and keep the focus on your feet.
Once you are comfortable with the drill and you can get the footwork right, you can do some punch combos while you are completing the drills.
Ball Footwork Drill
You may employ a medicine ball for this drill. Get on the training floor or inside the ring and put the medicine ball in the center. Take 5-6 steps back from the ball. Move ahead as if against an opponent – lead foot forward on the balls of your feet. After being very near, move right back at an angle.
Make sure you don’t move back to the place where you had started. Move forward again. This time when you get close to the ball, pivot so you are facing the ball from another direction. Move back again at an angle. Move backward at some angle; next time, use the pivot and move back to a different area completely.
Top Pad Work Drills for Ambitious Boxers
Do you know from where all the great champions first learned their boxing techniques? It wasn’t a heavy bag or shadowboxing or in the ring. It was on the mitts! That’s when the trainer pulls you aside, shows you a few things, and then lets you try it out. He’ll keep correcting you and if you get it right, he cuts you lose in the ring to show it off.
And later, he gives you a new trick and repeats the process all over again. It’s possible to say that every refined boxing skill was first developed on the mitts!
Here are the best mitt-work drills used in boxing gyms today. You’ll find all the usual routines for developing a fighter’s punching technique, power & speed, defensive maneuvers, footwork, and counter-punching reflexes against all styles of opponents.
A) Jab Call-out
This is the most basic drill. The mitt-holder and fighter move around loosening up. Using their legs, they start popping off jabs.
This drill is for practicing the jabs alone. It’s wonderful for amateurs to get used to throwing boxing’s most important punch and strengthening their weaker arm.
Shout “JAB TO THE BODY!” and hold the mitt low. Say “JAB TO THE HEAD, THEN BODY!”.
You don’t say anything; you simply flash him the mitt and he’s supposed to hit it quickly.
You may do the same but this time you only flash the mitt for a quick moment and then take it away. Thus, he has to stay close and be ready at all times. Flash one mitt and just as he hits it, flash him the other mitt.
Defense then Counter
Announce a defense maneuver and afterward give him the counter-jab opportunity. There can also be moments where you throw a punch at him without calling it out. Make sure he’s being ready to defend at all times. Then throw a punch at him and immediately flash him a counter-jab opportunity afterward.
Everything Together Now
You call out *JAB!* and throw a counter at him after he punches; then quickly flash him a counter-jab opportunity. You call out a jab to the head or body, give him another jab opportunity and then finally throw a counter at him to test his defense. You can call out a jab and when he hits it, you step around him and flash him another opportunity.
Combination Punching Drills
This is where novices have fun and turn slightly careless. The most vital aspect is to stay ready and relaxed at all times. Practice punching methods and try not to load up on every shot. Power comes from relaxed effortless release, not because you shove all the might through every punch.
Also important is to snap your punches instead of pushing them through. When calling out combinations, call out numbers since it’s faster than yelling different moves.
B) Defense & Counter-Punching
This is to master auto-defense and countering skills. This is where the real acumen is actually acquired. You have to defend and counter simultaneously. The most important thing is to stay balanced and keep the flow going.
Some fighters are so offensive that their defense maneuvers are either tense or unresponsive while others are so defensive that their sole focus is on not getting hit and thus their punches are devoid of power and continuous flow.
They may know that it’s OK to either miss punches or get hit; the secret is to keep moving and pay attention to the next thing arriving.
This is an ideal opportunity to learn where to look during a fight since many beginners find it hard to see everything being thrown at them.
It is time to have fun with some exciting drills. You may start coming up with your own original ones. Feel free to use other punches to keep training alive and kicking.
Blocking Defense Drills
Both should move around and the trainer will throw single jabs to the head or body. Move further and the trainer can throw a surprise wide looping shot at any moment.
The trainer can test by jabs and right hands to the head or body. He may quickly step in at any moment and throw a swift light flurry at the fighter.
The trainer may move around, be near or distant, and then open with any random punches he desires.
Blocking & Counter Drills
Speak out loud “JAB” and then suddenly throw a jab back at the fighter for him to block.
Occasionally throw your jab exactly when he’s jabbing. You may call out a 112 and then throw a counter jab to the head or body once he’s done. Many other tricks can be applied.
Slipping Defense Drills
The trainer throws double jabs. A fighter can block the first and either slip the second or slip both. The trainer throws triple jabs and the fighter slips as many as possible.
For example, if trainer throws 112, the fighter can block the first punch and slip the last two.
If the trainer throws double hooks, the fighter rolls under both.
Slipping and Countering Drills
The trainer calls for 12 and then counters with a jab. He repeats the same and then gives him an opportunity to land a right hand. Similarly, the trainer calls for 12 and counters with a left hook while the fighter is expected to roll under and step away. The trainer calls for 12, counters with his own 12 whereas the fighter slips both and counters with 32.
Advanced Defense and Countering Drills
A trainer can throw any combination; the fighter has to avoid being hit. Try to have the fighter escape the last shot by slipping or rolling under to escape.
Get into the habit of making the opponent miss completely to avoid getting hit. Have the fighter try to master all defensive maneuvers while throwing combinations.
C) Mitt-Work Drills for Footwork
Time to work on involving footwork maneuvers into your offensive and defensive movements. The most important thing is to stay relaxed, balanced, and flow into all your movements. Many fighters start jumping around and wasting energy once footwork is involved.
The key thing I can say for footwork is to keep it effortless and natural. It should feel like you’re walking around rather than jumping around to rush your body in position.
In a real fight, anxious uneasy footwork not only wastes your energy but announces your intentions to an opponent and makes them more aware of your movements.
Stay relaxed and you’ll find it is so much easier to get close and land a hard counter.
The trainer calls out PIVOT JAB and the fighter throws a jab while pivoting his back foot around.
This move allows him to land a jab while swinging his body out of the way. To test the fighter’s pivot, the trainer can throw a right hand right after he jabs so he can make sure his head is out of harm. The trainer calls for a 12321j.
The “j” means the fighter will jab on that last jab and the trainer can again test his pivot by throwing a counter right hand to see if it hits him or not.
The trainer can shout PIVOT and throw a right hand at the fighter while the fighter pilots and then throws a 212. The trainer calls for a 123j.
The fighter pivots on the hook avoiding the trainer’s right-hand counter and then finishes up with a 212.
Forwards, Backwards, In and Out
Make the fighter move forward continuously as the trainer calls out combinations while backing away. The fighter must cut off the ring and not let the trainer run away. Of course, the trainer will have to test the fighter’s defense not to let him get close for free.
Let fighter move backward repeatedly as you call out combinations. The trainer’s job is to keep closing the distance and trapping the fighter on the ropes. The fighter’s job is to escape, move away, pivot away, and cut around the trainer and create space as often as possible. The rule is he’s not allowed to run; he has to use relaxed and skillful foot movements.
Make the fighter do the practice of such combinations in which he moves in and out to avoid combinations and then jump back in again. Have the fighter throw a jab, step out to avoid a counter, and then back in with a combination. Alternatively, have the fighter throw a combination, step out to avoid a counter, and then back in with a quick counter jab or 12.
Inside Fighting and on the Ropes
Both the trainer and fighter are close to one other with upper bodies touching or leaning on each other. Try working on various combinations and see how different they become when thrown up close. Have the fighter work on pivot around to create angles and finish the combinations by pivoting away or stepping away.
The trainer should lean and push the fighter into the ropes and practice combinations along with defense. The fighter must push back or pivot for creating space and also pivot away and escape after the combinations.
The reverse should be practiced too by having the fighter work to push and keep the trainer on the ropes as he throws combinations and goes back to wrestling or pushing the trainer to keep him trapped. Such finesse can be developed with inside fighting. Focus on developing it rather than a tensed pushing contest.
D) Style Drills
Practice your offense and defense against different styles of opponents.
Get used to incorporating different combinations and maneuvers that you wouldn’t normally use in order to have more variety in your movements. The most important thing is to find a way to remain true to your style.
It’s unwise to expect yourself to beat someone’s natural style by using awkward maneuvers that you don’t feel comfortable with.
Style Drills Let the trainer imitate typical stances and attacks from different styles of opponents.
TALL FIGHTERS – get the fighter used to defending against long jabs and rights, slipping around long shots, rolling under hooks, and countering the body on the inside. Let the fighter maximize every inch of his reach on his jabs.
SHORT FIGHTERS – The fighter must pivot around and away from his opponent after combinations.
FAST FIGHTERS – get the fighter used to defending against fast combinations, trick punches, and chasing an opponent who moves a lot.
INSIDE FIGHTERS – get the fighter used to an opponent that’s always in his space and pushing him around. Keep the fighter standing his ground and know how to punch and move on the inside without losing balance.
VOLUME FIGHTERS – get the fighter used to an opponent that’s always punching non-stop. Don’t give him any room to breathe. Just make him work every second of the round.
Create any drill you want. If you see a fighter with problems against opponents who throw left hooks, focus on it. If you see a fighter having problems countering a specific movement, work on that.
The feet of the trainer must be in a southpaw stance. Move around and call out different combinations. Some will feel more awkward than others.
May-weather Style Mitt-Work Drills
This is the usual slick-style rhythm-oriented pad routine which became popular due to Mayweather family. I love this style of mitt-work and it’s truly effective for developing a natural fighting rhythm and reflexes. It will inculcate a lot of slickness and boxing coordination skills into your fighter.
It’s one of the most impressive skill-sets of boxing when compared to any other fighting art.
Single Shot Power
This drill is more often used by pros. It’s great for practicing your absolute power from all angles.
The reason why it’s not recommended for beginners is that they haven’t yet learned how to throw punches efficiently. So if you give them this drill, it will ingrain the habit of loading up on every shot which will take them further away from developing that smooth flowing relaxed combination-punching ability.
Hold the big punching pad at different angles and have the fighter step and adjust himself to get the maximum power on that shot. As you witness the pros doing it, you’ll see it’s a good drill to have him take up to 1 or 2 steps to practicing maneuvering himself into a position to land the best shot on the target. It’s kind of a smooth-footwork drill.
Mitt Drills using Noodles
Do all the same mitt-work drills that you’ve done before but with the trainer holding thin pool floats instead of actual focus mitts.
The noodle drills are great for several reasons. One is that it’s harder to hit accurately since the target is thinner. Second is that it can be harder to defend against due to quick whipping out.
The third is being less damaging for both puncher’s and trainer’s hands. Otherwise, spending many hours throwing and catching punches can get hands worn out quickly.
The next time you hear the rocking anthem of the ’80s, “Eye of the tiger”, imagine yourself being caught on camera for its video with fans dying to get your autograph just once in a lifetime as a souvenir to be preserved with pride.
However, nothing great comes easy. Just dreaming of the eventual glory is not the attitude of a champ. You must walk the way and traverse the path with immense hard work, practice, perseverance, and iron will before you taste success like Frazier.
It is not easy at all but it’s worth the effort, pain, and struggle. The ecstatic and jubilant end does justify the means!