So You Want To Learn To Box Lesson Two: The Line Drill
Learn To Walk Before You Run
Yes the line drill can be boring but it builds the most fundamental of boxing fundamentals. As a young kid, doing this day in and day out was torture. At one point I tried to spice it up and throw hooks and uppercuts while I stepped which elicited a bevy of screams from both my coaches.
So I will say to you what my coach Jimmy Hines said to me, “If you can’t be disciplined enough to do the line drill how I tell you, you won’t be disciplined enough when punches are being thrown at you!”
Almost 20 years later, I realize he was right. My other coach, Frank Gilbert, always preached the importance of good footwork. Not the jumping around, flashiness I see shown all over YouTube or in mma gyms with makeshift boxers incorrectly coaching, but solid, always in position, always allowing hard punching footwork. A good example of this is Frank’s favorite heavyweight boxer, Joe Louis.
The Brown Bomber
Joe Louis was a true boxing tactician and KO artist. If you find a Joe Louis video look at his footwork and you’ll agree, it is nothing fancy. A simple step forward to advance toward his opponent, a simple step back to retreat (which he rarely did), and a simple step to the side to cut the ring off. Very simple but also very effective.
Beyond making sure you are always on balance, this drill will also make sure you are always able to punch with power, with either hand, at will! A hard punch is one that comes from a sound foundation.
So without further adieu, let’s get into the drill.
Day 1: Foot Position
Find a line on the ground. It could be a straight line that your tiles make on your kitchen floor or the edge of your carpet. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s a line. If you absolutely don’t have a line wherever you are, make one. Lay a jump rope on the ground or a long piece of string. Be creative!
If you are a traditional fighter, meaning you are like 90% of the population and are right handed, then you want to put your left foot forward right foot in the back. If you are southpaw (fancy word for a left handed fighter..kinda..) then you will be reversed. Your right foot will be forward and left in the back. Note: Lefties you are going to get the shaft here, you will have to just know that everything I outline hereafter will be reverse for you.
Now put your front foot on the line with your big toe touching the edge of the line. Next, place your rear foot on the line with the back of your heel touching the line.
Space your feet so the are just about right beneath your shoulders (still the same position I previously noted). Now lastly, look at the line and point both your feet 45 degrees based off the line.
Congratulations, you are in a boxing stance. It will feel awkward for a while, but as long as you followed the instructions properly then you are fine.
For the first day practice getting into that position, so it’s the same everytime.
Day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc: Line Drill
Now you are ready for movement. Before you start movement, refresh what you learned the previous day to make sure your feet are in the proper position.
If you are set and on the line in the proper position, you are ready to proceed.
Move your front foot 2 inches forward. Now move your front foot 2 inches forward 2 follow. Now stop! Make sure your feet are in the same exact position as when you started. If you moved one foot further than the other, you will not be in ideal position and may possibly be off balance.
Now repeat that step until you reach the end of the line correcting yourself as you need.
When you reach the end of the line, you are going to go backwards BUT you must move your rear foot first. This is very important. Move your rear foot backwards 2 inches and allow you front foot to slide backwards 2 inches to follow. Continue to do this until you reach the end of the line again. Make sure to continually check your foot position and correct it as needed. You can repeat this drill as many times as you want to in a day.
It should be second nature before we continue to the next step in the line drill. For visual references, check the video below, and a special thank you to my coach James Lafond of jameslafond.com for the demonstration and the explanation of the boxing line drill in the video.
I will post part 2 of the line drill shortly and if you need to see the first lesson in this series please click here.