5 Agility Ladder Drills For Boxing and Kickboxing Footwork
Any experienced boxer or kickboxer knows that the secret to success begins with precision and preparation. Whether you’re new to boxing or kickboxing or are a more experienced fighter, training to improve your fighting skills is a must to keep you at the top of your game.
The following 5 agility drills are designed to help improve your footwork, agility, and awareness--the foundation for a successful fighter. Incorporate these drills into your weekly training as a complete circuit or break them up and add them to your workouts.
What Is an Agility Ladder?
An agility ladder is a piece of fitness equipment that is used as a training tool. It is laid out flat on the ground and is used for agility drills and footwork exercises. An agility workout focuses on improving your conditioning and overall athleticism, while providing specific movements to improve your fighting skills.
In a fight, it’s the fighter who must be aware of their surroundings and able to stay on their feet to strike and defend in order to have the upper hand, so footwork is key.
Here, FightCamp Trainer Aaron Swenson will lead you through 5 agility ladder drills that will improve your conditioning, enhance your boxing and kickboxing footwork, and boost your reaction time.
The 5 ladder agility drills are:
- Step Jab
- Pendulum Kick
- Step In Knee
- Hop Kick
Aaron also shares an additional bonus move to challenge you to become a more precise fighter with your footwork.
- From a fighting stance, balance your weight on your back foot with your elbows in, hands up, and chin tucked
- Push off your back leg, shifting your weight to your front leg bringing your knee up to 90 degrees
- Use your core to pivot on your front leg, open your hips, and swing your back leg around, using your shin to strike
- Start in fighting stance with your hands up in guard
- Bend your front knee at 90 degrees from the ground, place your weight on the back leg and kick forward from the front knee, striking to the side with your shin
- Start in fighting stance with your hands up in guard position
- Bend your front leg at the knee and shift your weight over your back leg
- With your front leg, swing forward to strike toward the upper torso of your target
Now that you know how to perform the three basic kicks, let’s jump into the agility ladder workout.
Agility Ladder Workout
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next drill.
Step Jab (30 seconds)
Similar to performing a jab in boxing, the step jab is a quick strike. Combine it with precise footwork to get your opponent off-balance. The jab is the foundation for all other punches and is often the first punch you throw in more complex boxing punch combinations.
- Start with your hands up in your guard in your fighting stance
- Place all of your weight on your back foot
- Push from the ball of your back foot and step forward with your front foot into the ladder square
- Time your punch with your step so that as your front foot lands, your punch lands
- Repeat this movement in quick rhythm, in and out, and as you start to feel more comfortable, you can work your way down the ladder
Pendulum (30 seconds)
This movement is inspired by boxer Vasyl Lomachenko who steps to the side of his opponent before striking. Most boxers step into their punch, exposing their body to their opponent in the process. This side step provides better defense against counter strikes while also utilizing the muscles in the core to increase power.
- Step into the ladder toward your target with your front foot
- Skip your feet together inside the ladder
- Hit with uppercut using the forward momentum of your body
- Skip backward into the ladder
- Finish with another uppercut as you move back out of the ladder
- As you get down the basic movements, you can add lateral movement working down the ladder with each move
Pendulum Kick (30 seconds)
This drill is similar to the pendulum described above, but this time, instead of throwing an uppercut, you will finish with a round kick at your opponent. As with the pendulum drill described above, step to the side of your target before striking.
- Step your front foot into the ladder
- Skip your feet together
- Throw a snappy round kick at your target within your instep
- Move backwards out of the ladder
This kick is popular in other traditional martial arts, such as karate. It is most effective when it’s quick. You can use this exercise with other types kicks:
- Fake low/high kicks to bait the defense out of position before striking
- Hook kicks
Step In Knee (30 seconds)
This drill is performed at close-range. You can opt to use your knee or kick. This is useful when there is not enough space to strike your opponent with a full leg kick effectively. The power for this kick comes from your forward momentum and a hip thrust.
- Start in fighting stance with your hands up in guard and your elbows in
- Place your weight on your back leg
- Push off the ball of your back foot
- Step into the ladder with your hips back
- Thrust your hips forward and throw your knee or a front kick with your back leg
- Step back into the ladder and out
- Alternate using your legs and knees as well as both sides
Hop Kick (30 seconds)
This kick is used to fake an opponent to draw them in before striking. The round kick engages your core, adding power to your strike. This drill focuses on precision with your kick and awareness of your position and opponent’s.
- Your rear foot leads the kick
- Lift your rear leg to fake the kick
- Using your front foot, skip into the ladder
- Follow through with a round kick
- Come back around to your defensive stance
- Challenge yourself not to touch the ladder as you skip into the ladder and move out
Bonus Kick (30 seconds)
This kick focuses on the glutes and obliques and is a great warm-up exercise. It is trickier than it appears and focuses on core stability as well as footwork.
- Start at one end of the ladder
- Chamber a round kick
- Hop kick on your back foot, hopping down the ladder for each ladder step
- Keep your front leg in position for a round kick at every step
- Balance on your back leg without your front foot touching the ground
- Continue down the ladder and back using alternate legs and kicks for 30 seconds
This bonus movement can also be used with the same 3 basic kicks:
- Roundhouse kicks
- Side kicks
- Hook kicks
The key to successful fighting begins with a strong foundation, especially boxing and kickboxing footwork. For more fighting and agility tips and videos visit our YouTube channel or check out our blog for kickboxing and boxing training, workouts, and content from the trainers at FightCamp.
The Author: Aaron Swenson, aka ‘Speedy,’ began his Martial Arts journey under his father’s guidance in the family’s dojo in Chicago. By 2013, Aaron was an accomplished fighter with two National Kickboxing titles and a USA National Kickboxing Team spot and fought for the prestigious GLORY Kickboxing organization. Since then, Aaron has become a sought after trainer in LA known for his technical approach to teaching, fancy pad-work, and utilizing music to make the workout fun and engaging. Aaron is a Founding Coach at FightCamp, where he leads boxing and kickboxing workouts and plans to make his return to the ring. Aaron is also USA Boxing Coach certified.