Timing your boxing footwork effectively to get in and out of range.
I’ve known this for a long time but never thought about sharing it online until I saw a friend getting hammered last Friday during an intense sparring session. Basically, his opponent was a bigger guy chasing him down and landing big shots. My friend was doing all he could to keep moving and maintain a gap between him and his opponent but his “constant movement” wasn’t enough to keep his opponent off of him. I figured some of you might want to know what I said to my friend in between rounds.
Use Boxing Footwork To Go In & Out
The point of having good boxing footwork is to go in and out. Don’t waste your legs and footwork skills by just plodding forward all the time or running away all the time. The point of “footwork” is to use your legs to go in all directions and changing directions as needed. At the very minimum, you should use boxing footwork to get yourself IN & OUT of punching range and use hit & run tactics all the time.
Timing Your Boxing Footwork
You should always time your boxing footwork so that you are moving when your opponent is punching AND punching when your opponent is moving. If you think carefully about what I just said, you’ll realize that this means your opponent is doing the same thing you are…so what’s the difference? You are trying to use your footwork so that you are punching when your opponent is moving in whereas your opponent is punching as you’re moving away.
How To Move In & Out
- CREATE SPACE – When he starts to punch, step back and create some space. You want to backstep just enough to be out of range and make him hit air. Again you’re NOT running, you’re just making space.
- IN & PUNCH – Right as he’s finished punching (won’t be long since you’re out of range), quickly STEP IN and throw some punches. Chances are, he probably stopped punching and started chasing you when you jumped in and caught him with his feet off the ground.
- REPEAT Step1 – You’ve stopped his forward momentum by landing some punches and he’s finally found his footing and started throwing back counter-punches but it’s too late because you already created space again.
- REPEAT Step2 – He realizes the counter-punches are too late and right as he stops punching you have once again slid into range and threw more punches.
What To Do When He Catches On
I actually find this to be a funny situation when your opponent catches on to your hit & run tricks. He’s most likely going to get frustrated and do either one of two things:
- He’s stands still – He’ll stop moving and decide to wait for you instead. If he does this, just throw some hand fakes and foot fakes to get him to counter-punch first or move first and then come in and hit him with some shots before backing out again. You can also use this opportunity to calmly circle around him to catch your breath if you need.
- He runs away – He realizes you have superior footwork and he doesn’t know how to come into you so he starts running away or circling you defensively. At this point, you just have to walk him down with cautious jabs and force him to waste energy running away from you. At some point, he’ll give up all of his ground and be backed helplessly into a corner.
Examples of Good In & Out Boxing Footwork
- Manny Pacquiao sparring – He’s a monster at going IN & OUT. This sparring session was years ago and his opponents can’t tell when he’s coming or going. Manny Pacquiao Boxing Footwork
- Joe Calzaghe VS Mikkel Kessler – His fight against Mikkel Kessler is a great example of IN & OUT boxing footwork.
- Oscar De La Hoya VS Felix Trinidad – Beautiful display of perfectly timed in & out footwork. You’ll see Trinidad pulling back his punches because Oscar had already backed out. The young Oscar had great legs.
Final Thoughts On Boxing Footwork
Boxing footwork is meant to carry you in all directions AND with timing. When you use footwork to retreat, you should always be retreating with the attitude of eventually advancing forward to land shots. It’s the same idea as when you are defending against punches with the intention of ultimately throwing some of your own. Vice versa, you shouldn’t always be plodding forward just as you shouldn’t always be throwing punches. As for timing: you should always use timed footwork. There’s no point in just bouncing back and forth wasting energy with no meaning. You should be moving in with a purpose and moving out with a purpose. Simply bouncing around a heavy bag all day doesn’t make you a boxer with good footwork.
When boxing footwork is properly combined with timing, you will control the pace and momentum of the fight. You control the range and when you want to punch. Boxing footwork is a beautiful skill to master and becomes a requirement at the higher levels of boxing competition!
As you get better, you can learn how to circle your opponent which is an even more advanced way of keeping yourself always within range while your opponent is out of range because he isn’t facing you. It requires less energy but definitely more skill, reflexes, and training. At the same time, circling your opponent will give you many new angles of attack.
Other guides on boxing footwork: