The Importance of Footwork for Athletes
I just finished a training sessions with one of my clients and we were working on boxing footwork. It got me thinking about the importance of footwork in sports.
In boxing and kickboxing it all starts with your feet. Finding the right stance for you, getting comfortable with it, and learning how to move. It provides your base for all of your strikes. Your feet help you maintain balance while moving and throwing your strikes and also defensively with head movement and avoiding strikes. Your footwork and your base also provide the power for your strikes. They involve the legs and hips which drive and power the hands for punches and shins for kicks. Basically it all starts and ends with your feet.
I have been working with this client for a couple of years now and it came up in training a couple weeks ago that she was feeling off balance and her feet were getting tangled. It had been a while since we dedicated time specifically to footwork. So that has been our focus for the last couple of weeks. It has already improved greatly but what was interesting to me is that some things we are going over now are things that we have previously covered. My client has recognized that and that has flipped a switch and made it easier to relearn. Like many things in sports muscle memory is key and doing those drills and reinforcing ideas and retraining movement patterns is key to continuing to seel success and improvement.
It was a reminder to me that no matter how long you have been training footwork is key to your success. It was also a reminder to always revisit the fundamentals and keep reinforcing them through drills and repetition. Muscle memory helps our body become efficient in the necessary movements our sports require. Take the boxing and kickboxing example, the more second nature we can make footwork become, the faster we will move, we will be more balanced and more powerful. Having to think about it will slow us down and make us have to work harder than we have to.
Footwork is key to ALL sports. The feet are what are in contact with the ground as we sprint, cut, and jump. Athletes with good footwork have an advantage over those with average footwork. They will be more balanced, faster, and be able to jump higher.
There are many ways to train footwork and even more when you talk about sport specific training.
I love using the speed ladder. Speed ladder drills are important because they teach coordination, control, and balance. It trains those aspects in multiple directions which translates to sports as athletes typically will have to move in every direction during training and competition. The other reason I like it so much is that there are so many ways to progress or regress the drills based on the athlete’s specific needs and ability levels. So no matter how new or advanced you are the speed ladder can help you improve.
The other thing I like using is a BOSU ball. It is amazing for overall balance and body control. It improves ankle, knee, and hip stability which is vital in all sports. This translates so well as the more control an athlete has over their body the better off they’re going to be.
It’s so important as athletes advance through their playing careers and get to higher levels that they don’t forget their fundamentals and footwork. It always needs to be trained and practiced.
Remember the better an athlete’s footwork, the faster, quicker, and more explosive they will be.
Like I talked about yesterday, a trained athlete has such an advantage over an untrained athlete. So even though these are crazy times with COVID there are safe ways to keep training and stay ahead of the competition.
I put together a 13-week Bodyweight Speed Development System and want to give it away for free.
To grab your copy just click the link here.