Few sports incorporate the type of physical demands on an athlete as boxing. In addition to requiring sufficient strength in your arms, legs and core, boxing requires excellent balance and foot speed to properly evade and overcome your opponent.
Agility drills, which challenge an individual to change their direction or speed in response to an unpredictable stimulus, can help you develop the ability to adjust on the fly during a match. Improving your footwork and agility requires patience and persistence. To properly focus on this area, try incorporating two to three sets of each drill detailed above into your pre-existing workout several times per week. Remember, it is important that agility drills contain a reactive component where the participant is unable to anticipate changes in direction or speed. Because of this, working with a teammate is an important part of your training. Try these drills at home or in the gym with the help of a partner.
Four Corner Drill
The four corner drill challenges an athlete to rapidly accelerate and decelerate in multiple different directions.
How to do it: Stand in the middle of a large room. Place a cone 20 feet ahead of you, 20 feet behind you and 20 feet away from you on each side. Have your partner begin by shouting a direction (front, back, left or right). If "front" is shouted, sprint to the cone in front of you and touch it before backpedaling to the middle. If "left" or "right" is called, shuffle to the side and touch the cone before returning to the middle in the same manner. If "back" is called, backpedal and touch the cone before running full speed towards the center again. Have your partner continue to randomly call out directions for 30 to 60 seconds.
Ladder In and Outs
This ladder exercise helps you develop your boxing footwork while incorporating two different planes of motion.
How to do it: Stand facing an agility ladder with the long portion extending to your left. If you do not have one, you can draw a long ladder on the ground using chalk. Begin by stepping into a rung with your left foot and then repeating the motion in the same rung with your right. Next, step outside the ladder starting with your left and then your right foot. Continue the pattern as you move towards the other end of the ladder. When your partner claps, reverse the direction and step into the rungs leading in and out with your right foot. Have your teammate continue to clap intermittently as you perform the drill for a minute.
The clock drill simulates the physical movements of a boxing match by incorporating a fighting stance into an agility exercise.
How to do it: Stand in the center of a large room and place 12 cones around you in a circle like the hours on a clock. Assume a fighting stance and quickly shuffle forward in between two cones as you practice jabbing an opponent. Then, shuffle back to the center of the circle. Continue to rapidly move in and out of the cones as you rotate in a clockwise direction around the circle. Have your partner sporadically yell “switch.” When this occurs, alternate directions around the circle while continuing to step in and out of the cones. After 60 seconds has elapsed, take a break.
This drill works on lateral movements while also targeting the stability muscles in your legs that are used to maintain your balance after being hit or throwing a punch.
How to do it: Stand on the short end of an agility ladder and assume a mini squat position. Quickly shuffle step to your left into the first rung of the ladder with one foot and then the other before stepping each foot out of the rung on the other side. Then, reverse directions as you perform the same motion on the next rung forward. Continue to alternate back and forth with the same step sequence until your partner yells switch. When this occurs, reverse the motion and continue the in-in-out-out pattern backward towards your starting position. Have your teammate continue to randomly change your direction for a minute long session. To make this more challenging, attempt to jab or punch while completing the drill.