Punching is an integral part of any combat sport, whether it’s Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, or MMA. The ability to land powerful punches is essential for any combat athlete. Even if you are primarily a kicker or grappler, understanding boxing range can aid you in defending against fighters that favor their hands. While there are many ways to train your boxing, shadowboxing is amongst the best. Shadowboxing can improve every aspect of your punching skill while needing no equipment at all. Today, Evolve Daily is pleased to share the essential drills you need to train often in order to improve your shadowboxing technique.
The jab is the cornerstone of any good boxer’s entire game. Besides your lead teep, the jab is your longest and most agile weapon in any combat sport. You can use the jab to occupy your opponent’s attention while you create angles with footwork, set up power shots, or even land knockdowns or knockouts!
One simple drill is a jab pyramid. This can be used as a warm-up or a cardio conditioning drill. Start by throwing a single jab. You then throw two jabs, then three. Increase the number of jabs sequentially to whatever number you desire. Once you reach the maximum number, decrease the number of jabs sequentially until you reach one again. For example, if you were to go up to five jabs, you would go down to four jabs, then three, etc.
Another shadowboxing drill to improve your jab is alternating between a traditional and an up jab. The traditional jab shoots straight out from your guard at shoulder height and is the most common jab seen in boxing. Your rear hand should be held in front of your face during a traditional jab to block the path of your opponent’s jab. An up jab involves you slipping to your lead side, which puts your rear shoulder in front, then throwing a jab from your slipped position. Also referred to as a coffee mug jab, this type of jab strikes an opponent between their guard from below with a vertical fist. Your rear hand should be held on the side of your head during an up jab to block any incoming hooks. Mike Tyson is one fighter who utilized the up jab frequently. For the shadowboxing drill, set a timer for a three-minute round, then alternate between throwing a traditional and up jab. Coach Tom Yankello explains the two types of jabs and rear hand positions in the video above.
Footwork is one of the fundamental building blocks of any fighter’s skill and can be built up effectively through shadowboxing. Although basic boxing footwork may seem simple, it takes a lot of training to be able to move smoothly around the ring. One drill to work on boxing footwork fundamentals is a box drill. As the name suggests, this drill has you moving forward, right, left, and backwards in a box to develop your movement in all directions. This is also a fantastic drill for synchronizing your punches with your footwork. The drill goes like this for an orthodox fighter. Step left and jab as your lead footsteps. Step forward and jab as your lead foot lands. Step to your right with your right foot first, then your left. Your jab should land when your left foot lands. Finally, step backwards with your right foot, followed by your left foot. Like the previous step, your jab should land when your left foot hits the ground. For boxing, it is crucial to sync up the hands and feet on the same side, which can be difficult to get used to as walking normally is the opposite. Once you are comfortable with this drill, you can add your right cross as you step into a box. Coach Tom Yankello demonstrates both versions of this drill with his students in the video above.
Head movement is another powerful tool you can develop with shadowboxing drills. Head movement is often better than just blocking a punch; you avoid damage on your guard and you are able to gain a dominant position for a counter punch at the same time! One drill to practice in your shadowboxing is a side step or shoot, from the peekaboo style of boxing. You will often have the majority of your weight on your front leg after throwing a hard combination. The peekaboo side step helps you to use that weight to keep your momentum, instead of being stuck in place. Begin the drill by picking a combination to throw. This can be anything, even a double jab followed by a cross will suffice. After your combination, push off of your front foot towards your rear side. This will place you on the side of your opponent and momentarily give you a chance to punch around or through their guard.
Another footwork drill to practice is the D’amato shift. This footwork pattern also comes from the peekaboo style of boxing and can be used to get yourself out of the corner while landing a powerful punch. To perform the D’amato shift, start by slipping to one side and shifting your weight. You then do a short hop to the side that you slipped. Your weight will now be on the leg opposite of the side that you slipped originally. At this point, your hips should face your opponent, while your opponent’s hips are no longer facing you. You are then free to unload a powerful punch or combination before your opponent can turn to face you. The video above shows Logan Brown demonstrating both the Peekaboo sidestep and the D’amato shift.
This next drill combines footwork with head movement to develop fluidity in your shadowboxing. For those familiar with the number system used in boxing, it will be written out below for a fighter in an orthodox stance. If you are a southpaw, just reverse the directions of the weaves, rolls, shifts, and pivots.
1 – 2 – 3 – weave left – shift/pivot right – 3 – 2 – weave right – pivot left – 2 – 3 – right shoulder roll – left shoulder roll – slip left – weave right – step right with right foot – 1 – 2 – 3
As you can see, this is an intermediate to advanced shadowboxing drill. This drill covers moving with your punches, weaving under hooks, shifting and pivoting to create angles and shoulder rolling punches. It can be helpful to learn this drill in chunks instead of trying to memorize it all at once. Coach Tom Yankello explains and demonstrates this drill with one of his students in the video above.
Practice these drills in your own shadowboxing to see your boxing skills skyrocket! Although it can be fun to hit pads or a heavy bag, nothing is as useful for your development as a boxer than pure shadowboxing.
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