Boxing has to be the best physical activity for anyone looking to get into shape. The key movements in boxing utilize almost all the muscle groups in the body making it a form of full body workout.
You also get the added benefit of having sharper reflexes and better balance and strength control. With all these benefits, there are no drawbacks to practicing or learning boxing.
Still, you can badly injure yourself or someone else if you are careless. If you’re new to boxing, you might be feeling confused and lost. Don’t worry, in this article we cover everything you need to know about boxing drills. Let’s dive straight in!
Table of Contents
- What Is a Boxing Drill?
- Boxing Drills or Boxing Workouts?
- What Do I Need for Boxing Drills?
- 7 Best Boxing Drills for You
- Tips for Doing Boxing Safely to Avoid Injury
What Is a Boxing Drill?
If you have prior boxing experience and knowledge, feel free to skip this section.
A boxing drill is a repetition of boxing movements, exercises, and punches in a combo or flow. The purpose of a drill is to familiarize your body with the footwork and punches. Boxing drills can help you improve your stance stability as well as improve your control over your body.
There are boxing drills designed to improve every aspect of your boxing skills. They will polish your fundamentals for everything else to come. With time and the right boxing drills, you will feel more comfortable and less awkward in all your boxing movements.
Boxing drills can be performed alone or with other people. You can do footwork and offense boxing drills at home. However, defensive boxing technique drills are better when practiced with someone else. There are also boxing drills for beginners that help develop the correct posture. This is needed before you move on to more complicated and fun boxing drills.
Boxing Drills or Boxing Workouts?
Beginners might confuse sparring and boxing drill workouts to be the same thing. Boxing drill workouts are exercises that help strengthen the muscles of the body involved in boxing movements. You do not necessarily need a partner to perform these drills and you can do most of them at home.
Good boxing workouts focus on building stamina and stability above everything else. Every boxing drill exercise will require you to have good core strength and well-developed lower body muscles. Here are some of the best boxing exercises for you.
- Jump rope
- Weighted punches
- Turkish get-ups
Pairing boxing workouts with drills will drastically improve your physique and allow you to quickly get into shape. If you’re just starting, running is an easy boxing workout to help you develop stamina and lower body strength. Remember, the goal is to build stamina first and speed second.
For absolute beginners to workouts, here is a good calisthenics routine to help you build up your core strength and get into shape.
What Do I Need for Boxing Drills?
You can do most boxing drills at home with little to no equipment required. Boxing drills for groups, however, can only be done in a gym or class environment. Boxing drills for groups involve basic boxing training drills and calisthenic exercises.
Boxing drills such as shadow boxing do not require any gear to perform. However, you might need some special equipment for more advanced drills. Let’s talk about the drill types and gear requirements.
Gear for Footwork Drills
- Rope Ladder
- Jump rope
- Slip bag (Optional)
There are many types of common footwork drills. These include jump rope, ladder carioca, lateral shuffles, front/back shuffles, and shadow boxing. Only the jump rope drills and ladder drills require special equipment in the form of the jump rope and rope ladder.
You can also do cone shuffle drills if you have access to cones. Slip drills require slip bags but you can make a simple slip bag by hanging a glove from a height instead. Alternatively, you can use a clothesline hanging at shoulder height to do slip drills.
Gear for Punching Drills
- Boxing Gloves
- Punching bag
- Hand wraps
- Pads (for partner)
When it comes to punching, almost all drills require you to have some form of hand protection. This can be in the form of boxing gloves or simple hand wraps that protect your knuckles from injury. Punching bags and pads are not necessary but they are preferred for beginners to refine their punching form.
Gear for Workout
- Gym rings
Most boxing workouts involve heavy calisthenics exercises. With gym rings and dumbbells, you can do all exercises whenever you want, wherever you want. Kettlebells are used as resistance for upper body exercises such as Turkish get-ups.
7 Best Boxing Drills for You
Your goals define the best boxing drill for you. Some drills are universally helpful such as footwork drills. Others like hand speed drills should be combined with some workout to maximize the gains. Other than the boxing drills recommended in this article, here are some boxing workouts to fit your needs. Here are the best boxing drills to keep you in shape.
1. Jumping Rope Drills
Equipment required: Jump rope.
Jumping rope drills are easily the best drills to develop technique, rhythm, and stamina. Essentially, you want to start with simple jumps and work your way up to more advanced jumping techniques like side-to-side jumps. Jumping rope can also be added to your list of boxing warm-up drills but keep in mind that it is a heavy impact drill for your ankles.
Set a timer between 1-5 minutes and try to maintain a rhythm in the jumps for the entire duration. If you’re starting, you can take 30-60 seconds of rest in between jumping sessions. The drill aims to develop stamina, stability, rhythm, and agility.
2. Stepping and Punching Drills
Equipment required: None
Coordinating your punches to land at the same time as your step will significantly improve the speed and power behind your punches. To practice stepping and punching, step with your lead foot and throw a punch at the same time. Your back foot should move forward right after the punch lands to stabilize you. Repeat the process and add combinations to the mix to develop an offensive flow.
The drill aims to develop a habit of keeping your balance even as you move and shuffle. You can also do back-step punches for a more defensive flow. Stepping and punching drills quickly burn a lot of calories and utilize all the major muscles in the body.
Ideally, you want there to be a distance equal to your foot between both of your feet. As you move forwards, try to maintain the distance as uniformly as possible. Once you’ve mastered this drill you can move on to the more advanced pivoting after a step-in punch drill. You can also add hooks and uppercuts to the drills to mix things up and improve flow.
3. Slip Drills
Equipment: Rope or slip bag.
Slip drills are great for developing reaction speed, agility, and explosive power. You can do slip drills in many ways. The most common method is to hang a clothesline or rope at shoulder height and practice your slip footwork around it.
You can set a timer for 1-2 minutes and practice slips. You can take a 30-60 seconds break in between sets. Slip drills strengthen your back and leg muscles, making it a great fat burner exercise.
4. Combination Drills
Equipment: Punching bag, gloves, pads (for partners).
Combination refers to linking your punches together in a way that makes them flow naturally. You can follow any combination drills you want. The recommended method is to mix up some calisthenics exercises. You can do these between sets of punching to engage your entire body and build stamina.
In boxing terminology, the punches (jabs, crosses hooks, uppercuts) are represented as numbers 1,2,3, and 4. A combination is made by combining these punches in continuation.
For beginners, you should practice combinations for 2 minutes with 1-minute rest in between rounds. During the rest, you can do any form of calisthenic exercise such as jumping jacks, burpees, or lunges to increase the intensity of the drill.
Combination drills are the go-to boxing drills to do on the punching bags. The feedback from the strike can help you regulate the flow and improve focus. You can also practice them on pads with a partner and take turns in between sets. Here’s an easy drill plan for beginners to help build the foundation.
- 1- Round 1: 1-2-3-4 combination for 30 seconds with 10 seconds break in between sets, 3-5 sets total.
- 2- 1-minute break.
- 3- Round 2: 2-3-4-1 combination for 30 seconds with 10 seconds break in between sets, 3-5 sets total.
- 4- 1-minute break.
- 5- Round 3: 1-1-2-2 combination for 30 seconds with 10 seconds break in between sets, 3-5 sets total.
- 6- 1-minute break.
- 7- Round 4: Freestyle set, link as many punches together in a flow as possible for 30 seconds with a 10-second break in between sets, 3-5 sets total of this.
5. Heavy Bag Drills
Equipment: Heavy bag, gloves.
Boxing gloves are necessary for this drill as you can injure yourself if you punch a heavy bag without hand protection. Heavy bag drills are great for practicing boxing combination drills as well as working up a good sweat. You can also do stepping and punching drills on the heavy bag to add variety to the exercise.
Keep in mind that during heavy bag drills, the aim is not to hit the bag as hard as possible. Instead, it is to polish your combinations. It will also improve your control and teach you how to put weight behind your punches in a high-intensity exercise.
The general ‘2-minute workout and 1-minute rest’ rule works well for heavy bag drills. You start with basic 1-2 punches and slowly work your way up to slips, pivots, and step-in punches for higher-intensity workouts.
6. Defense and Reaction Drills
You will need a partner for this one. To start, you will raise your guard and your partner will begin throwing light and quick punches at you. The task is to focus on the incoming punches and dodge or block them in succession. If you’re a beginner, you can ask your partner to only throw straight jabs for you to defend against.
You should mix up the defense options to familiarize your body with the techniques and to get a better workout. Your aim should be to practice slips, rolls, leans, and back shuffles to avoid the punches. The drill will improve your reflexes, balance, and agility, and help you develop resistance to flinching.
You can alternate with your partner for this drill with 1 minute of defending for each. It doubles as a control drill as you have to regulate your punches to make sure you don’t hurt your partner.
7. Shadow Boxing
Equipment: lightweight dumbbells (optional) mirror (optional).
You can do shadow boxing at any time any place. Experienced boxers on average do shadow boxing drills more often than beginners.
This is because shadow boxing is a visualization exercise. You can try shadow boxing with lightweight dumbbells in each hand to convert the exercises into boxing hand speed drills.
Shadow boxing with a mirror is a great way to eliminate your bad habits and polish your form alone. Best of all, there is no set pattern or method for shadowboxing, you can link together everything you know about boxing together in a session. You will work up a good sweat and improve your speed, form, and control at the same time. Shadow boxing is perfect for boxing footwork drills solo training.
Tips for Doing Boxing Safely to Avoid Injury
Many beginner mistakes happen in the preparatory part of the boxing drills. Like any physical sport or exercise, carelessness can lead to injury for both you and those around you. Here are some tips to keep in mind during your boxing drills to avoid injuring yourself or others.
Hard punching bags are a great target to practice your jabs on, however, it is a bad idea to punch them with bare knuckles. You can injure yourself very easily while punching a hard sandbag. Another thing to keep in mind is to always use headgear and other guards when doing full-contact sparring.
Boxing is considered one of the most dangerous sports in the world. This is because of the high risk of head injuries. The use of headgear can soften the impact on the head and protect you from accidental concussions.
Posture and Breathing Fundamentals
Boxing is all about throwing punches with the right posture and maintaining good breathing. You should focus on mastering the right form of throwing a jab, hook, uppercut, and straight before you move on to boxing drills.
Breathing is just as important as your form, as a rule, you should exhale with every punch you throw. This relaxes your body and improves stamina, control, and form. A common beginner mistake is to hold your breath when throwing a combo, doing so will only tire you out and ruin your form.
Another beginner’s mistake is to throw strong punches all the time. The point of boxing drills is to develop stamina, speed, and control. Constantly throwing punches with all your might will ruin your form and tire you out very quickly. Focus on throwing quick light punches with evasive footwork during your boxing training drill.
You should never exercise without warming up first. Warm-ups reduce the risk of muscle sprains and improve mobility, power, and speed of your movements. A good warm-up routine depends on the activity you plan to do later.
For training and light boxing drills, 5 minutes of warm-up is usually enough. For more intensive drills and sparring sessions, you might want to stretch the warm-up time to 15-20 minutes. You can also check former Olympic bronze medalist Tony Jeffries’s guide to boxing warm-up here:
What are boxing drills good for?
Boxing drills help you improve your agility, control, and stamina. They are also great exercises to help you stay in shape. Repetition of boxing drills is essential to perfecting the correct boxing form and footwork.
What is the best at-home boxing exercise?
Jumping rope, shadow boxing, and slip drills are the best boxing exercises that you can do at home without needing any equipment. You can combine calisthenics exercises between shadow boxing sessions for the best gains.
What equipment do I need for boxing drills?
Most boxing drills only require you to have boxing gloves, a rope, pads, and a partner. You can use a punching bag if you do not have a partner to train with. You can even use hand wraps in place of boxing gloves as long as you don’t plan on doing punching drills on a heavy bag.