Boxing Footwork Basics
You want to learn about boxing footwork basics after watching the quick footwork and fiery attacks of Manny Paquiao, Muhammad Ali's taunting dance in between blistering jab and cross combinations exacting brutal damage or the way Sugar Ray Leonard cautiously feels out his opponent's style before quick stepping in with low and high jabs, then dodging his opponent's return volley. Boxing footwork is the fundamental weapon in the boxer's arsenal. With proper boxing footwork, a boxer can leave nothing but air in front of the most powerful punch and can create a rhythm so each of his punches lands when his opponent is most off balance.
Boxing footwork basics begin with the concept of the lead leg. The lead leg is opposite of the boxer's dominant hand, so if the boxer is right handed she will lead with her left leg. The right leg will almost always trail behind the left leg on a right handed boxer giving him a step that shuffles forward and back and side to side. The feet, although one is forward and the other back, are kept about shoulder width apart. This provides stability, because there is always a leg that can catch the boxer's body if the pressure of an opponent's punch thrusts him forward, back or side to side.
Boxing footwork drills begin with the lead leg forward, the trailing leg about a half step behind, and the knees slightly bent. The torso is upright and balanced between the lead and trailing leg with the weight on the balls of the feet. From this position, the boxer will be able to move forward and back, side to side, and in a semi circle around his opponent. To step forward the boxer will take the weight off her lead leg and step forward while pushing off with the trailing leg. A tricky technique that some pugilists employ is to drag the trailing ball of the right foot along the floor after the body weight has been shifted onto he lead leg until it is back in the starting position about a half-step from the lead leg. To step backward, the boxer will reverse the step, taking weight off the trailing leg, stepping back with the trailing leg and pushing off of with the lead leg. As the boxer brings the lead leg back into position he drags or slides the ball of his foot along the floor. The goal is to maintain constant contact with the ground so the boxer doesn't have to look down to see the ground. The boxer can remain connected with the ground. The boxer can do the same while stepping left and right. The lead leg steps out to the side while the trail leg pushes off and drags back into position a half step to the rear. To step right the boxer does the same, stepping her trailing leg to the right rear, pushing off with the lead leg, then dragging the lead back into position.
From here, boxing footwork becomes more complex with various combinations. To move forward left, the boxer steps forward leading with the left, then shuffles to the left by bringing his right leg almost directly under him, transferring his weight to the right leg, then stepping left with the left leg and dragging the right leg back into the trailing position. To move forward right, the boxer steps forward with with the lead leg, then steps right with the right leg and drags the left back into the lead position. Even when boxers are shuffling around one another in the ring they keep the lead leg a little in front of the trailing leg. This allows them to maintain balance and to keep their lead shoulder and boxing gloves in a protective position when taking hits to the upper torso and head.
In the ring, the step is more erratic as the boxer is putting forth maximal effort to block and dodge hits while delivering as many point-scoring powerful hits to his opponent. Boxers develop upon these fundamental boxing footwork basics as they build their arsenal of punches, blocks, dodges and direction changes as they prepare for each contest in the ring.