Boxing Movement and Footwork Training: Tennis Ball Drill
In boxing, it’s all about offense and defense. Most people believe that punching power is all it takes to develop boxing skills, but boxing uses the entire body. Working your foot and head movement is key to training both offense and defense.
Fortunately, you don’t need fancy equipment to take your training to the next level. All you need is a few tennis balls and a trusted friend or family member to throw them.
Boxing drills using a tennis ball are effective ways to train hand-eye coordination. The following tennis ball drill will help you take your movement speed up a notch.
For this exercise, Partner 1 will be against a wall and Partner 2 will be throwing the tennis balls.
Have Partner 1 stand in front of a wall, and make sure their back foot is just against the wall. The goal of this boxing partner drill is to simulate being up against the ropes with nowhere to move. The wall serves as a rebound surface so that Partner 2 can quickly grab the tennis balls.
Let’s get started!
- Partner 1 starts in a fighting stance with their legs about shoulder width apart
- Partner 2 slowly starts tossing the tennis ball on both sides of Partner 1 (not aiming directly at Partner 2, but rather at the edges of their body)
- Partner 1 should move slightly away from the ball using their upper body in a slip movement
- Once comfortable, Partner 2 can increase their tossing speed and mix in throws above Partner 1’s head so that Partner 1 can practice their roll
This tennis ball drill for boxing effectively trains defense, head movement, and footwork. Start slow and continue this drill for a minute. Once you’ve established a rhythm, add more time. The goal would be to practice this drill for 3-minute rounds, twice a week. This will maximize its benefits.
The best boxing drills incorporate both offense and defense training, so if you are the person dodging the ball (Partner 1 in the above drill), consider throwing a punch after each slip or roll.
Here are some sample combinations to practice throwing while dodging the tennis ball:
- Jab - Cross - Lead Hook
- Lead Hook - Rear Hook - Rear Uppercut
- Jab - Jab - Cross - Rear Hook
Boxing footwork drills and boxing coordination drills are all about repetition, so practice this drill over and over to see results. Switch off and on with your friend or family member to help them start training too!
How Can I Work on Boxing Footwork?
The best way to train boxing footwork without equipment is to always incorporate foot movement into boxing techniques and training. Even if you are working out on a punching bag, circle around the bag and practice shuffling in different directions to train your footwork. You can practice agility workouts and footwork drills in addition to your punching bag training.
How Do Boxers Improve Coordination?
Training coordination is best done with an object that can test your speed. The tennis ball drill described above is a fantastic way to improve your coordination, but consider tying a tennis ball to a string and taping it to your ceiling. Start slowly, punching the tennis ball and slipping to the side if it comes back towards your face. As you get more comfortable, increase the power of your punches, but be ready! The tennis ball will start rebounding faster towards your face or in a circle around you, so stay light on your feet and be ready to move.
How Do Boxers Improve Reflexes?
Both of the tennis ball drills referenced above are fantastic ways to improve your reflexes. Another drill using a tennis ball that you can practice is to simply throw and catch the ball using a wall as a rebound point. Alternatively, you can throw the tennis ball hard against the wall and practice dodging its rebound.
Training your boxing coordination and skills doesn’t require specialized equipment. With nothing more than a partner, a tennis ball, and a wall, you can elevate your boxing footwork training today. For new workouts or drills, visit FightCamp’s workout library and YouTube videos to take your training up a level today.
The Author: PJ Shirdan is a FightCamp Founding Coach who claims that boxing wasn’t his first love, but it saved his life. PJ grew up in the Philadelphia area and played football as a young athlete. After a life-changing event, he found boxing as a way to heal, escape, and, ultimately, rebuild his life as he became a competitive fighter. PJ came to Los Angeles and continued to hone his skills as a boxer and as a NASM and TRX Certified Personal Trainer. He began to train other boxers, UFC fighters, and athletes using a holistic approach. This included mental and physical training, nutritional counseling, and empowering his clients with his hallmark motivational style. Today, he is known throughout the FightCamp Team as the go-to person to close out company-wide meetings with the same optimism and positive messages he delivers in his FightCamp workouts. When PJ isn’t filming workouts, he’s enjoying a great burger with his wife, Lindsey, and living his #BestDayEver. Coach PJ is also USA Boxing Coach certified.