Exercises That Improve Boxing Footwork

Proper footwork can keep you out of harm's way in the ring.
i Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you want to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, as famously stated by boxing legend Muhammad Ali, you must add some fancy footwork to your boxing prowess. Boxing requires your entire body to work as an integrated unit, bringing power to your punches all the way from your feet. Fast footwork also lets you dance out of the way of your opponent's punches, hopefully keeping your black eyes to a minimum.


    The trick to making your feet move faster is to, well, practice moving them faster. Sprinting is an ideal way to build the fast-twitch leg muscles necessary to develop your super-fast ring shuffle. Start with a 30-yard sprint, running at about 70 percent of your maximum speed. Run the same sprint six times, increasing your speed each time until you're at 90 or 95 percent of your maximum. Bring along your stopwatch to keep track of your time so you can earn some instant gratification when your time shortens.

Leg Strength

    Strong calves and ankles make for firm footing and quick retreats. Jumping rope keeps you up on your toes, building muscles in your calves and ankles. Keep your hands by your sides and turn only your wrists, then jump 1 to 2 inches off the ground, letting only the balls of your feet touch. Changing up the moves can help with your agility as well; alternate jumping feet or swing the rope from the sides to vary your routine.


    Imagine side-stepping to dodge a punch and tripping over your own feet instead. Avoid this embarrassment by working on your agility before stepping into the ring. Running up and down stairs can help develop this agility, but start slow until you develop the necessary fast footing. Turn sideways and shuffle-step up the stairs, then run up sideways again crossing one foot over the other. Step fast if you can, but remember that this is an agility drill, not necessarily designed to develop speed -- quickness is the secondary benefit.


    Pivoting is an essential skill when moving to distract your opponent, rearrange your punching position or dodge incoming hits. It's easy to lose your balance when pivoting, so practice using a clock exercise. Stand in the middle of an imaginary circle as if you were the pin holding the clock hands in the center. The direction you start with should be noon. Pivot on one foot to the right, stopping at 1 o'clock. Continue through all the hours, then go backward until you're back at noon. Repeat on the other foot. Then, have a friend call out numbers and feet randomly so you can pivot to them -- for example, your friend might say "Right foot two" so you can pivot on your right foot to 2 o'clock.

the nest