If you’re a boxer, you know who Mohammed Ali is. The greatest of all time, Mohammed Ali had one thing that stunned the world: footwork. He could dance around virtually anybody in the ring, and he had a way of dodging punch after punch – minus when he played rope-a-dope with George Foreman.
Don’t get me wrong, Ali had speed to counteract any opponent.
But amazing footwork helped him stay dominant for so many years. If you're a boxer, it’s important that you follow boxing footwork tips to help enhance your skill set. A few tips that I recommend include:
1. Wear Boxing Shoes
Far too many new boxers come into a gym wearing their sneakers. This will never work to your advantage. You wouldn’t wear a sweater when you jump in the pool, so don’t go out and wear sneakers in the ring.
Boxing shoes are thinner, and allow for better power transfer than your typical sneaker.
The issue with sneakers and other footwear is that the sole is often curved. What this does is it hinders your ability to firmly plant your feet into the ground when boxing, and you’ll notice an amazing difference once you start wearing boxing shoes.
2. Jump Rope
Do you know why so many people hate jumping rope? It’s difficult. One of the best exercises to mimic how you’ll be using your legs in the ring is jumping rope – so get used to doing it every day.
Jumping rope ensures that your legs can produce bursts of power, and you're able to withstand an entire fight without fatigue.
3. Stay Straight
Leaning back or hunching forward is only good when you try to avoid being hit. When you’re working on footwork, keep your back straight. Keeping your spine in the upright position allows for more balance, and is a more efficient position to move quickly.
Pivoting and movement is far easier when your spine is straight.
Don’t get me wrong, you may want to tilt your spine when throwing a punch, and then straighten and move away quickly. This is acceptable, but when you are moving into range, keep your spine straight.
4. Relax Your Upper Body
Your upper body needs to stay relaxed, and it should not move independently from your lower body. While many trainers will explain the upper and lower body as two separate entities, they do not move separately.
All of your body's movement is generated from your core – well, at least the powerful movement you need as a boxer.
If your upper body is stiff, this will hinder your lower body's movement. If you want to test this out for yourself, keep your arms tucked against your body when you’re trying to move around, and see how stiff and awkward the movement feels. Your whole body needs to move in unison to master your footwork.
5. Pay Attention to The Balls of Your Feet
When your feet land on the ground and come off the ground, you want to be on the balls of your feet. When you go forward, you want to land on the balls of your feet first. This allows you to move faster in a push-and-pull motion, and helps you stay grounded and ready for a punch.
Stepping forward with to heel may be natural when you’re walking, but you do not want to box this way.
The same goes for moving backwards. You want to push off with the ball of your foot, making sure that it's the last contact you make with the mat. This allows for you to powerfully move your body back into the original position and be ready for taking a punch.
Remember, footwork is a critical part of boxing, so take the time to master it and work it on it every day.