1. Balance- Work on keeping your center of gravity over your feet. If you’re heavy on one foot, and light on another, your ability to move in any direction is considerably diminished. Being ready to move, means being properly connected to the ground. Make sure that your head is centered above your feet. If it’s off to one side or the other, it will be harder to change directions.
2. Constant Movement- While standing in front of an opponent, your feet and head should be moving at all times. Constant movement means small, quick, and subtle movements in “random” directions. Not only does this make you a moving target, but it also makes you more responsive. Constantly shifting your weight from one direction to another, makes it easier to continue your motion, instead of starting from a stationary position.
3. Small Steps- Not too much, not too little, but just enough. Always make the slightest, smallest movements necessary. Doing so saves energy, but also gives you the ability to change directions, move your head, and attack. Small steps make you less predictable, but also give you the ability to stay connected to the ground. Imagine how hard it would be to throw or dodge punches while in mid air.
4. On Your Balls- Not that your heels should never touch the ground, but they shouldn’t touch for more than a split second. Humans are better at moving when your weight is concentrated on the front part of the foot. Think of the bottom of your foot as sticky; the more surface area that contacts the ground, the harder it will be to lift that foot up off the ground. Imagine how slow you would jump rope if your heels contacted the ground.
5. Practice- You must condition your muscles to make these frequent, yet small adjustments if you expect it to happen while someone is trying to knock you out. While practicing footwork, don’t concentrate on covering distance and maximizing movement, this is called running. Instead, work on moving your feet while throwing punches and moving your head at the same time. If you can stay in position, control your head movement, and throw long, solid punches while moving your feet, you’re probably an elite level boxer.
6. Core Conditioning- Think about all of the movements that have to made by your upper body. Your head has to move in all directions while your torso launches your arms violently. Doing so requires strength from the entire kinetic chain, starting with your feet and legs. All of the movements in your upper body origiNate from your feet, and travel through your core, so the muscle groups in your legs, hips, and core need to be able to work together. Avoid doing exercises that isolate muscle groups like crunches or leg press. Do core exercises while standing on both feet with weight in your hands or on your shoulders. While holding weight above your waist, perform twisting, turning, and circular movements, and concentrate on “using your belly” to move the weight, not your shoulders or arms.
Jumping rope, agility drills, and running are also a great exercises for improving foot work.
The bottom line, you can do ladder drills and jump rope until your feet fall off, but the best workout for improving footwork is shadowboxing. Apply all of the above principles while shadowboxing for best results. Concentrate on moving your feet and head immediately after completing a combination.