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There are many different forms of Martial Arts, and some involve grappling, or throwing techniques, while the majority incorporate different styles of striking. Combat sports like Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and Karate all utilise different technical methods of training. Athletes that begin trying to maser these concepts will need to show focus, consistency, athleticism, and perseverance to succeed.

What this article covers:

All striking arts will use shadow boxing drills to mimic a real fight situation, and enable an athlete to work extensively on their footwork, their punching form, their evasive maneuvers, and their overall fight strategy. 

THE COMPLETE LINE DRILL MANUAL from Duane "Bang" Ludwig and DynamicStriking.com is here!

shadow boxing tips

There are many benefits of shadow boxing that athletes can use to improve their overall fighting performance. Shadow boxing has aided some of the greatest fighters of all time like Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and Roy Jones Jr. Becoming a world class striker takes a considerable amount of training, and evolving an athlete's fighting style comes from how they train. Different trainers will utilise different ideologies, but when it comes to shadow boxing, they all speak about its importance. Athletes must maximise their time shadow boxing, and become proficient in their striking systems.


Athletes that are training to become amatuer, or professional fighters are always going to take their training seriously. This means they will be committing to a heavy body of work, and incorporating all aspects of the fight game can take up a lot of time. This is one of the reasons why shadow boxing is vital to an athlete, because many aspects of the fight game can be combined into one explosive, and influential workout. Some athletes may wonder what is the purpose of shadow boxing, and knowing exactly how it can fine tune an athlete's punching fluency, can help them to integrate evasive and attacking movements. Shadow boxing will also thoroughly condition their body, and it is no wonder the world's best strikers utilise this type of boxing drill. Any workout drill that can be used to improve skill, condition an athlete, and master strategy, is a highly functional, and beneficial exercise for all athletes, from beginners to champions of the sport.


In Boxing an athlete's balance is a key aspect, and this is because they need balance to keep an athlete standing after taking a punch, and so they can pivot and move into more advantageous positions. An athlete that has good balance will often have good coordination, and this is because their centre of gravity will allow them to use more skilled movements. Boxing is an extremely effective combat sport that requires an athlete to have a high level of coordination. Using shadow boxing is one of the best ways to loosen up the body, and continue to improve an athlete's balance, and coordination. Sparring against an imaginary opponent allows an athlete to be creative, and able to think about which moves to make, while showcasing how they should be moving in a real fight. This is how the athlete can fine tune every single movement, without taking considerable damage.

Having the right stance can go a long way into achieving the right balance, and better coordination. A poor stance can lead to an unbalanced athlete, which is problematic when facing a real opponent. Shadow boxing is a good way to practise an athlete's fight stance, and because there is no opponent, they can explore different avenues of defense, and attack. Athletes must remember to position their feet at least a shoulder width apart, with an even amount of weight distribution in each foot. Their knees should be slightly bent, and they should be standing on the balls of their feet, so they are ready to use quick footwork to move around an opponent. Their elbows should be retracted into their rib cage, so their elbows are not flared out. Both of their hands should be up and guarding their face, while their chin is tucked. A good fight stance can benefit athletes substantially in developing a systematic flow of striking movements.


In the modern game of Boxing a competitor will need to use sudden changes of movement, and these types of movements can change the outcome of a fight. This movement is called agility, and all athletes need this to be capable of pivoting on the spot, or ducking, and weaving in the blink of an eye. Training in shadow boxing drills that cater for agility, will help athletes to stop suddenly, or change direction with ease. Using rope ladders laid out on the mats can be used, as athletes will step in and out of each section, as they use side stepping, crossovers, and ins and outs. Using ladder drills, while throwing strikes, and changing levels can be an extremely effective method of training. Athletes will need to be constantly working at improving their agility, and this is so they can match the skill level of many of their opponents.

In shadow boxing, visualisation is key, and this means to imagine an opponent is in front of an athlete throwing punches, and evading punches. This is a great way to improve an athlete's form, and learning how to punch using proper combinations is vital to the future success of the athlete. Utilising this concept, all athletes must be highly imaginative, and throwing striking combinations must be combined with the proper footwork. An athlete should imagine they are in a real fight, and using energy to duck, and weave, while counter striking is an important factor. This type of training exercise is beneficial to the athlete, and will become instinctive, as long as they put in hard work, and consistency.

Staying in and out of range is another important concept, and athletes should stay at least one metre away from their opponent. In a real fight, an opponent will be moving, so when an athlete shadow boxes they should be stepping into range to throw combinations, and then stepping out to exit from inside an opponent's range. Practising this during shadow boxing exercises will ingrain these movements, and during a real fight this is the key component to staying safe, and being able to execute a wide range of striking techniques. Closing the distance is crucial for an athlete, and is the only way to set up dominance within the fight. Exiting out of range is equally as important, and commonly an athlete will fail to step backwards, or circle to either side after landing or attempting combinations. This can lead to an opponent counter attacking, and trapping the athlete in the pocket. This is why employing these tactics in a shadow boxing drill is pivotal to mastering their striking ability. 


Shadow boxing workouts can be highly effective ways to improve an athlete's conditioning, and their striking proficiency. Mastering boxing combinations is hard to do in real sparring sessions, and this is because a training partner can utilise their own skills in striking. Shadow boxing is instrumental in building a formidable base of striking expertise, that is combined with evasive maneuvers, and is executed into a fluent formation. There is an extensive range of boxing combinations that can be highly successful in amatuer and professional striking. One of the most simplest combinations is the jab, cross, and this is designed to shock the opponent with the jab, before landing a more dominant cross. This combination is extremely effective, and can catch an opponent off guard.

Building up from the jab, cross, into the double jab, and then cross is a great transition from the jab, cross. This combo will frustrate an opponent, because they will be unsuspecting of a double jab to start a combination. The jab, cross, hook can be highly effective, and this is because of the power an athlete can throw into the hook. This finishing blow can also be thrown towards the rib cage area, and this can be a great way to finish the fight. Four hit combos like the jab, cross, hook, cross, or the jab, cross, uppercut, cross, are iconic ways to cut down an opponent. Setting up an opponent with a jab, and moving into fluent four punch combinations are extremely high percentage striking movements, and can still give an athlete time to exit out of their opponent's range.

Combinations are always extremely effective when an athlete adds in evasive maneuvers like slipping punches, ducking under punches, or parrying punches. This is highly effective when an athlete ducks under a punch, and lands a power hook to the rib cage area. Athletes will also look to add classy footwork, head faking movements, and highly athletic pivots, so they can move to safety, or increase the range of their attack. Using repetition within a shadow boxing workout will only build a significant striking ability, as the athlete will commonly improve their form, as well as their fight intelligence. Practising shadow boxing combinations will ingrain these complex movements into the athlete's muscle memory, and this is how they can access outstanding technical skills when they are faced with a real opponent.


Shadow boxing is more than just a tool that athletes can use to sharpen their striking, it can also be used to improve strength and conditioning. Athletes can try shadow boxing with dumbbells, and this is a great way to build functional strength within their arms. Using light dumbbells is a good way to train the hands to stay closed, because if an athlete opens their hands during a punch it can result in injuries. Using a two kilogram dumbbell or lighter is as heavy as an athlete should go, otherwise they are putting too much strain on their shoulders. Using the right weight can build strength, and act as a mobility exercise for the shoulders, and when competing in a combat sport like Boxing, this is crucial.

Athletes can also use a shadow boxing drill as a way to incorporate high intensity exercise like sprinting, burpees, lunges, push ups, mountain climbers, and other various movements. Incorporating drills like running from one end of the mat to the other, while throwing punches, and then dropping down for several push ups, before running back throwing punches, and continuing to do different exercises. This can be designed any way an athlete chooses, so they can hand pick the exercises and make their workout extremely functional. Athletes that are training in Mixed Martial Arts may utilise sprawling techniques so they can prevent their opponent from taking them down to the mat. Other athletes may be muay thai shadow boxing, and this means using knees, elbows, and kicks, which can make the workout considerably harder. Engaging in these types of workout routines will only benefit the athlete in the long term, as they will improve their overall strength and conditioning.


Shadow boxing is a highly functional training exercise that enables an athlete to be creative, and really develop their fighting systems. However, there are fundamental no no's that athletes need to be well aware of. A fundamental mistake that athletes make is when they drop their hands, and leave their chin exposed. In shadow boxing there is no opponent, but an athlete still needs to stay guarded, because this is how they can develop a good habit when they are faced with a real opponent. This is also the same with protecting the ribs, as a common mistake would be to flare the elbows out, and this can lead to body shots in a real fight. Receiving damage to the ribs can be fight ending, as the rib cage houses several organs like the pancreas, the gallbladder, the kidney, parts of the liver, and the small and large intestines, this means protecting this area is vital. 

Another problem that athletes can face is poor footwork, and this can be detrimental to building good striking habits. Sometimes athletes will step into bad positions, which can leave them unbalanced, and this can lead to poor execution of punches, and it can also leave the athlete exposed to counter punches from their opponents. Like all techniques in shadow boxing, they must be perfected, so the athlete can build a good muscle memory. Lazy footwork can also creep in when an athlete gets tired, and there is nothing worse than sloppy technique at the death of a Boxing fight. This is why shadow boxing combinations are crucial for training, so the athlete can master their footwork, and build a significant cardiovascular fitness, so they do not tire out during a competition fight.

THE COMPLETE LINE DRILL MANUAL from Duane "Bang" Ludwig and DynamicStriking.com is here!

how to do shadow boxing


Most athletes have heard about using fight IQ, which is the level of intelligence, and effort an athlete uses to strategise their way through a fight. In the modern game of boxing, two combatants will need to play the game extremely smart if they want to out maneuver, and out smart their opponent. Rushing in and throwing bombs has become a thing of the past, as these days athletes are more cautious, and will use levels of patience to set up their opponents, before going in for the kill. An intelligent fighter will feel out their opponent, and begin to test the waters by stepping slightly in range. This is a good way of seeing how their opponent will react, before the athlete moves into the counter offensive attacks. Sometimes the intelligent fighter will know when to rest, or when to stay on the outside, because fighting is a game of momentum, and when an athlete has a significant advantage, the athlete needs to be cautious, and bide their time. Sometimes weathering the storm is the best way of setting up an opponent for an attack, and using patience and smartness is one of the best qualities that an amateur, or professional fighter can have. 

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