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Boxing Footwork Drills For Beginners

The importance of good footwork in boxing cannot be overstated.

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali said: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” To be able to float in the ring, you need to practice boxing footwork exercises.

Proper footwork is achieved through the right stance, footwork drills and most of all, practice. All beginners should incorporate a variety of footwork exercises into their training.

Why Is Stance Important In Boxing?

Stance is important in boxing because it provides balance. Maintaining balance is at the core of every boxing move, offensive or defensive. Professional fighters know that achieving a solid stance is one of the first steps in advancing all other boxing skills. Learning boxing footwork for beginners starts with achieving proper stance.

A correct stance is achieved through body positioning. There are a few different boxing stances to choose from depending on your dominant hand, stature, and training experience (The Ultimate Guide To Boxing Stances). For beginners, it is most important to familiarize yourself with the two (2) most common boxing stances: Orthodox and Southpaw.

Orthodox Stance (Right-Handed Boxers)


  • Feet slightly further than shoulder distance apart
  • Right foot forward, pointing towards the bag
  • Left foot back, roughly at a 45 degree angle to the right foot
  • Knees soft, slightly bent
  • Stand on the balls of your feet, with your weight more on the left (rear) foot

Southpaw (Left-Handed Boxers)


  • Feet slightly further than shoulder distance apart
  • Left foot forward, pointing towards the bag
  • Right foot back, roughly at a 45 degree angle to the left foot
  • Knees soft, slightly bent
  • Stand on the balls of your feet, with your weight more on the right (rear) foot

The best way to understand proper positioning for these boxing stances is through visual demonstration. If possible, practice your stance in front of a mirror.

Why Is Footwork Important In Boxing?

Like your stance, boxing footwork helps fighters maintain balance. It is also crucial to being able to deliver effective punch combinations, improving accuracy with every hit, and setting boxers up for offensive moves.

Excellent footwork is often credited in the success of champion boxers. The ability to move around one’s opponent swiftly while staying balanced is essential in real-life fight scenarios. Learning boxing footwork fundamentals is key in helping beginners quickly amp up their game to the next level.

How Do Boxers Improve Their Footwork?

Boxers improve their footwork by practicing boxing footwork drills. Beginners can start with these drills.

Jump Rope

Boxer Jumping Rope

Boxers love training with a jump rope for a multitude of reasons. Above all, it keeps them quick and light on their feet. For an added challenge, try speeding up your tempo with the jump rope or practice any of these jump rope drills:

Criss-Cross Arms

Alternate crossing one arm over the other mid-jump. Get into a comfortable rhythm jumping naturally, then bring one hand over the other as the rope comes down in front of you. Uncross your arms again as you bring the rope up behind you.

Backwards Jump Rope

This is all about keeping tempo because you are removing the visual cue. Jump as you normally would but reverse the direction of your arm rotation so the rope is traveling in the opposite direction.

High Knees Jumps

Bring both of your legs as far up towards your chest as you can for every jump. This will challenge you to gauge your timing while also giving you a more intense jump rope workout.

Box Jumps

Box jumps are great for footwork and building lower body strength. Also known as plyometric exercises, box jumps enhance strength and speed through explosive power in a rapid burst. It is highly recommended to use a soft plyo box for safety with box jump drills.

1. Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart
2. Drop into a quarter squat position with your arms bent at the elbows, extended slightly behind you
3. Push from your feet and swing your arms to land on top of the box

Agility Ladder

Boxer Using Agility Ladder

Agility ladder exercises are excellent for improving footwork and dexterity. If you ever played hopscotch, these drills may seem somewhat familiar and fun. Just like with the children’s game, if you don’t have an agility ladder available you can use tape or chalk to mark out a ladder pattern on the floor for these exercises (Agility Ladder Drills).

Ins and Outs

1. Stand at one end of the ladder, facing lengthwise
2. Step into the first square with your right foot, then your left
3. Step your right foot out of the square to the right side, followed by your left foot to the left side
4. Repeat with the remaining squares as you continue down the ladder

Single Foot Hops

1. Start by standing on only one foot (either right or left)
2. Hop into each square down the ladder while remaining on one foot
3. Repeat with the opposite foot

Cross-Overs

1. Stand to the right side of the first square
2. Cross your right foot over your left into the square
3. Bring your left foot behind and step to the other side of the ladder
4. Take your right foot out to stand fully on the left side of the ladder
5. Start crossing your left foot over your right, this time to step into the second square
6. Repeat down the ladder

No boxing footwork equipment needed:

Shadowboxing

Boxer Shadowboxing For Footwork

Shadowboxing is a staple of boxing training. It is an exercise that helps perfect form and technique, including critical footwork (Why You Should Start Shadowboxing). Observe the footwork of professional boxing trainers in your shadowboxing drills to nail down your moves (Shadowboxing Drills).

Dance

When Ali spoke of floating like a butterfly, he touched on a very important and often overlooked element to boxing: graceful motion. Spectators of professional boxing are too frequently laser-focused on the fighters’ hands and overlook the fluidity of their footwork. Many boxers and martial artists train in various forms of dance to enhance their rhythm, flexibility, agility and footwork patterns.

Boxing footwork starts with stance and improves with training. Beginners should always include footwork drills into their boxing workout routine. Skillful footwork will translate to more effective punches and even a better workout!


The Author: Tommy Duquette is the Co-Founder and Head of Content at FightCamp. He is a former US Boxing Team member with 136 fights under his belt and qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials as the #2 seed. He has 18 years of experience training clients in boxing and fitness.