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Boxing is an age old traditional combat sport, which dates back to the early days of ancient Greece, and ancient India, as athletes would often engage in fights to the death. As the art evolved over centuries, the form became less brutal, as more rules were introduced. In the 1800's the Marquess of Queensberry Rules were implemented, which saw boxing become a more civilized sport. This brought about fights with boxing gloves, timed rounds, and an actual boxing ring, which saw the art form steering away from the brutality of underground prize fighting. The scene was set, as iconic legends like Mohammed Ali, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr, Anthony Joshua, and Andy Ruiz Jr, all showcased their boxing finesse. 

What this article covers:

Boxing may be seen as a brutal sport, but in actual fact the art is extremely graceful, and full of showmanship. There are many different boxing footwork techniques that have become iconic throughout the world of boxing, and training to become world class starts in the gym. All athletes must work extensively on all parts of their boxing repertoire, and this includes strength and conditioning, punching form, speed, balance, coordination, agility, and different footwork skills. Moving in straight lines, or in predictable sideways movements, can get an athlete in trouble if their movements are telegraphed. This is why the modern day athlete is beginning to attack with angles, so they can open up their opponent, and start to dominate them inside of the ring.


Boxing is all about moving in formation, and some of the best boxers of all time will constantly move in angles. This means to move in on an opponent at a certain angle to deviate off the normal parameters. Commonly in boxing, students are taught to move in straight lines, or from side to side. Modern teachings are now showcasing the audacity to use a different style of movement, so an athlete can get close to their opponent, or to exit out of a dangerous position. To move straight forward, or backwards is an angle in boxing, so is moving from side to side, but there are also other angles like moving in a forty five degree angle towards an opponent, as well as the same movement included in a hop, or jump step, or even lowering the body in what is called a level change.

Take your boxing footwork to another level with the help of Coach Barry Robinson!

Boxing footwork and angles

The best boxing footwork will incorporate different angles, so an athlete has a viable chance of surprising their opponent with a series of combinations. Unpredictability in boxing is how an athlete can gain a dominant position, as opposed to being stagnant, or telegraphing their punches. It can be easy to get caught up, and go through the motions, and being too clinical in a boxing match is a common error from many boxing athletes. These days opponents are too smart, and are wise to these types of things, and are now utilising a much more systematic, and evasive style of boxing. This is where moving in at forty five degree angles, and using level changes, or jump steps is how an athlete can get close enough to infiltrate their opponent's range.


In boxing, footwork would have to be the key component behind the success of any high level boxer. Any strong athlete that spends enough time punching a bag can gain a significant amount of power, or even build a comprehensive amount of speed within their attacks. To truly become a formidable opponent inside the ring, athletes need to incorporate extensive boxing footwork patterns into their repertoire. Using good footwork will help athletes considerably with being more balanced, and this is an important aspect for being able to throw balanced, and accurate punches, as well as being able to withstand any barrage of attacks from an opponent. The right footwork will also help an athlete to stay in a postured position, which once again will help them to keep their feet, even if they do take on some damage. Posture is also important, so an athlete can execute any form of punches with significant power.

Having the ability to dance around the ring, and evade punches is a crucial element in boxing. Not only this, but being able to maneuver around the ring and not get trapped in the pocket is another important concept of boxing. Getting trapped in the pockets, or the corners of a ring will ultimately lead to an athlete's demise. No fighter wants to be stuck on the ropes eating punches with no way to escape, and this is why using good footwork is extremely vital to the success rate of any potential boxing champion. All of the greatest fighters of all time have pinpointed just how important footwork was, and trained extensively to become masterful at lateral shuffling, forward and backwards stepping, changing levels, and moving in at a forty five degree angle. 


All boxers know that power punching comes from their feet, and this means that developing significant boxing footwork is extremely pivotal in succeeding at this concept. Boxers will all use momentum, and speed to cut through any defensive actions of an opponent. This means moving around in angles, and changing levels to be able to access vantage points against their opponents. Using the right angles, and significant momentum will help athletes attack from the right positions, and this is extremely important for generating enough power from their punch. The power in a punch starts from the feet, as the athlete pivots and begins to rotate their hips, this will generate enough momentum throughout the core of their body, giving their punches a much more potent snap. The end result of this type of innovative action is a knockout blow.

Using jump steps, and different angles in boxing will always catch an opponent off guard, which enables the athlete to generate enough force to land a devastating punch. This is why successful boxers will cut their angles, and use level changes, and severe rotational actions to land body hooks to their opponents. This type of maneuver can be devastating, and will often break the ribs of an opponent, with little to know danger for the athlete. A common mistake in boxing is for athletes to punch with their upper body, and forget to put any form of rotation into their punch. Not only will this leave an athlete with no power in their punch, it will also leave them flat footed, like a sitting duck on the water. This can only result in a counterpunch that can be detrimental to the viability of an athlete winning a boxing match. All athletes must work extensively on their technique, so that their punches have enough force deriving up from their feet, through their hips, and out of their fists.

Strength and conditioning is always an extremely important concept for any combat athlete, and especially for boxers that want to use significant power within their striking. All athletes should be engaging in boxing leg exercises, so their legs are strong enough to move into position, and generate enough force within their punch. Most combat athletes will lift heavy weights to build up strength within their legs, but the most common and fundamental way is by using functional strength exercises. This means to utilise movements like lunges, squats, jump squats, burpees, mountain climbers, rotational leg extensions, and a large variety of other important leg workouts.  Building up a significant strength within the legs will only help athletes in utilising a higher amount of force within their punching arsenal.


There are a multitude of different training drills that athletes can utilise to improve their quality of footwork. One of the most influential forms of footwork training is shadow boxing, and this has been utilised by some of the greatest athletes of all time. Boxers like Mohammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and Roy Jones Jr have all showcased their ability to shadow box for improvement of their footwork game. Shadow boxing can be used as a warm up drill, or as a much more viable way to practice an athlete's punching fluency. Even though shadow boxing has no opponents, it opens up a great opportunity for an athlete to explore their game style, and how they want to execute their movements.  Athletes can break down shadow boxing routines into sections, which means they can focus on a couple of footwork elements, before combining them all together into one systematic fluency of punching. It takes time to become an expert in shadow boxing, and all athletes need to do is get repetition in, and continue to use shadow boxing techniques as one of the primary sources for improving their game style.

There are literally so many different training drills that athletes can use to improve their footwork potency. Beginners to the art should always start with simple exercise routines like lateral shuffling, and this is because they need to understand the intricacies involved in simple sideways stepping to avoid punches. This is the same with forward and backwards shuffling, which are just as important, so an athlete can move in and out of range of their opponent. Utilising the more trickier footwork routines like cutting in on angles, or jumping into positions to throw power punches takes time, and experience. Once an athlete can master the basics of footwork, then these more difficult movements will become easier.

Full contact sparring is a good way to practice footwork skills in a real life fight situation. The only problem with this kind of sparring, is that an athlete is exposed to injury, or taking significant damage during the exchange. Even though an athlete will learn resilience, and learn how to deal with pressure situations, there are better ways of practising their footwork without taking on any form of damage. The mirror drill is an old school boxing tactic used by trainers to help athletes improve the quality of their footwork. The mirror drill is simple, and involves two athletes working in cohesion together with one of them being on the offensive, and the other being defensive. The offensive training partner will utilise any movement they want, including footwork, and punches, as the defensive training partner will simply mirror their movements. This is how an athlete will learn instinctively how to move their feet, all while avoiding punches, and looking at opportunities to counter strike. 

One of the most traditional forms of footwork training is using the skipping rope. There are many different ways that athletes can use the skipping rope to their advantage, and even though ideally it is used for cardiorespiratory endurance, or warm up aspects, there are still quite a lot of functions involved with the footwork capabilities. The act of jumping over a rope at extremely high speeds will only benefit an athlete in how they can use their feet in a fighting sense. There are many ways to jump over a skipping rope, as athletes can use their toes, the balls of their feet, or their heels. They can also decide to hop on one foot, jump off two feet, or use a form of gallop to maneuver their way over the rope. All of the world's best boxers are highly conditioned to use the skipping rope, and this shows in how their footwork skills are utilised.


Moving in a straight line forwards, or backwards, or in a lateral direction is an angle in boxing, but the only issue is that these angles are extremely common, and can be highly predictable to an opponent. This is where athletes will need to use forty five degree angles in a diagonal motion to help throw off an opponent in the middle of a boxing match. Athletes will use diagonal slides, as they slip punches to get in close to their opponents. This is why athletes will practice drills like the square drill, which teaches them to move in diagonal lines. Using this type of methodology will help athletes to cut off their opponents, as they try to circle away from danger. A huge part of boxing is not just to be too aggressive, and over commit, it is to own the centre of the boxing ring, and force the opponent into a dead pocket, or a dead angle. 

Elevate your boxing footwork with the guidance of Coach Barry Robinson!

Boxing footwork for angles

The jump step has become one of the most instrumental ways that an athlete can infiltrate a more advantageous position against their opponent. This type of movement is not commonly taught in boxing gyms, but for the elite boxers, this can be the bread and butter of all movements. Jump stepping involves exploding off of the ground, as both feet will leave the ground at the same time, and land at the same time in a more dominant position. For example an athlete might step in with a jab, and a cross, but then use the jump step to move across to where the cross was thrown from, and this can enable an opportunity to throw a devastating body hook. This is usually how an athlete will create a blind angle, as the opponent is already dealing with the first few punches the athlete has thrown. The faster, and more explosive the movement is, the harder time an opponent will have in trying to square up to defend.

Slipping punches is one of the easiest ways to create angles on an opponent. Slipping a punch is one of the most fundamental aspects in boxing, and can be used by athletes to move into the dead pocket. Some boxers are highly reactive, as they use counter strikes as a way to attack their opponents. Waiting to defend a punch may not always be the smartest move, but to a boxer who has extremely quick reaction times, this can be an advantageous, and intelligent thing to do in a boxing fight. Once the opponent has thrown the punch, the athlete should slip underneath, and they will naturally move in a diagonal angle, which can force the opponent into a bad position. Athletes must make sure that once they have slipped the punch, that they are instantly throwing punching combinations, or at least raising their glove to impair the vision of their opponent, so they can use more footwork angles to access a high variety of punching combinations.

Level changing is another extremely common way that an athlete can change the angle in a boxing match. Level changing is not only seen in boxing, it is one of the most common maneuvers seen in an MMA fight, as athletes will objectively try to take down their opponents. In boxing the level change can be just as instrumental, as an athlete will look to cut the angles, and then lower their body, which can help them to use momentum, as they lift up their body, and execute different punching combinations. Uppercuts are a great punch to utilise from a level change, and so are superman punches. What makes a level change so instrumental, is the fact that it can be used in cohesion with feinting, ducking, and slipping punches, which makes the level change an extremely valuable tool inside of a boxing match. 

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