Footwork Drill – Tag Boxing

by Fran on June 6, 2010

Footwork Drill – Tag Boxing

Following on from the article in which I explained range finding in boxing, I’ve had some recent interest in understanding range and asking whether there are any techniques to improve the way in which we get in and out of range safely and effectively.Β  Well, as I’m always looking to keep the followers of this site fulfilled, I’ve got a footwork drill here that I’m sure you’ll find useful!

If you get the chance to work with a partner, have 3 rounds of tag boxing in the gym. No gloves. The aim is to tap your opponent’s thigh or shoulder with an open palm…and not get tapped yourself.Β  We will use 3 skill components here:

  1. The stance
  2. Moving in and out
  3. Ducking

Some things to remember when having a go:

  1. Don’t bend at the waist to hit the thigh, bend the knees.
  2. Use lots of feints.
  3. Short, explosive movements with the feet; push off the front foot to move backwards, the back foot to move forwards.
  4. Aim for very short foot movements, looking to feint, push out (6-8cm) and then straight back in to get your tap in.
  5. Don’t be tempted to ‘pull’ your leg out of the way of a tap; it’s cheating and it ruins your stance (as well as missing the entire point of the thing!)
  6. Stay relaxed and learn about the subtle movements involved in hitting whilst not being hit.

Try this footwork drill a few times a week, and your footwork will improve greatly…and you don’t have to take punches whilst learning, that’s gotta be good!



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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

zayaan April 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Hey I am learning Jeet kun Do at home and in the basics there are saying first learn boxing and kick boxing which will help in further advances could you make an article about both in one article with videos perhaps?


Fran April 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I can only do boxing Zayaan πŸ™‚


Matt August 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Hi Fran

On the subject of footwork, do you know any good advanced footwork drills you can do on your own? I’m always practicing moving on the compass points in all 8 directions but I am now wanting to try some footwork drills which more accurately parallel the specific sequence of foot movements you would make in the ring.

Are there any specific drills which you know of, or props that can be incorporated to practice and establish fundamental ‘routines’ of footwork drills, which use simple and complex elements? E.g. 2 steps diagonally forward on the lead foot, pivot, 2 steps diagonally back, side step etc..?



Tony August 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Hi Fran, i use this as well but found some lads take taps to get there own back, so we now use a system if your knee is touched first one press up, shoulder two burpees. All of a sudden lads are trying to avoid the taps as dont want to be seen doing them lol


Fran August 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Haha. That’s a nice control method Tony, one that I think I’ll pinch off you πŸ™‚


Brent March 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm

I boughd a hula hoop yesterday so will try that sparring drill plus this one today. Thanks Fran!


Fran March 20, 2013 at 9:43 am

Onward and upward Brent πŸ™‚


Dave December 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Hey, Fran.

If you changed the target from the shoulder to the chin or something, or included that, do you think that would be a good drill for body movement as well, by including slipping?


Fran December 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Yeah Dave that would be a good variation. To avoid the risk of poking each other in the eyes or clipping each other’s mouths, I’d pop on gloves and stick in a mouth guard. It’s probably just become a tech spar actually.


Karl June 8, 2010 at 3:48 am

Tag drill worked well. I could only do it for a round tonight before our coach started in on his planned routines, but I’ll stick with it.

One thing it made obvious was… you have to be careful not to over do it when you try to avoid a hit. I had to move when he was coming at me, but I tried to move ‘just enough’ and not leap backwards. After reading your other article, I guess I was trying to stay at ‘edge of range’. It’s tricky. Takes a lot of concentration, but I know it will get easier.

Looking forward to your new articles on blocks and covering up, but I better go reread some of the basics again!

BTW – I was really trying to focus on my basic stance, jab and cross (as you described them from the other articles) when we were working the heavy bag. Coach yelled out a compliment from across the gym. I guess he likes what you’re teaching!


Fran June 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Keep this level of enthusiasm Karl, and you’ll reap your rewards. Thanks again for your invaluable contribution.



Karl June 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Thanks Fran, this looks like a good drill and I’ll give it a try.

One of my problems during sparring was that I tended to look down and cover right up when under attack by a flurry of punches. In fact, my gloves are probably over my eyes in an attempt to block everything that was coming at me. Not a very good defense!

This drill would work for me because I won’t have any reason to tuck into a defensive shell, but rather, use my footwork to get out of his range. Once those movements become more natural\instinctual, it won’t be so easy for my opponent to distract me from using my footwork.

I’ll give it a go tonight!


Fran June 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Yeah, total cover up is a common issue for new boxers, don’t be hard on yourself though as it makes total sense to ‘clam up’ given your level of experience. Practise the drill over a number of weeks, benefits will be gained. I’ve got some videos and articles in the pipeline on blocks, parries and covering up, so hopefully they’ll help when the time comes. For now though, get that footwork in order and all else will follow.

Cheers and stick with it.


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