Footwork is an important part of Muay Thai. Your feet put you in position to land strikes while getting you out of harm’s way when your opponent fires back. Fighting footwork isn’t something that comes naturally for most people. You need to make conscious efforts to improve your footwork until it becomes part of your muscle memory.
Intermediate Muay Thai Footwork Drills
This article will focus on intermediate footwork drills so you should already be familiar with the basics like how to correctly move forward, backward, and laterally in both directions. Little things like not crossing your legs as you move should be second nature to you before attempting these exercises.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some intermediate Muay Thai footwork drills:
1) Switch Stance And Angle Drill
Being able to switch stances effortlessly is a crucial skill all Muay Thai fighters should have. Being able to switch stances before throwing a strike, while throwing, or against an opponent’s strikes creates more room to attack or evade with. It also opens up angles in both directions, making it easier for you to get off the center line and fire off some hard strikes.
The switch stance drill gets you used to switching stances and pivoting in the heat of battle. You’ll need a training partner holding pads to perform the exercise.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Get into your fighting stance while facing a training partner holding pads.
- Your partner holds the pads high while walking you down.
- Your fire off two punches while switching stances as your training partner forces you to take a backward step, then you pivot in either direction and fire off a roundhouse to the body.
2) Hip Rotation Footwork Drill
You’ll be throwing lots of kicks as a Muay Thai fighter, so it’s essential to get used to keeping your feet in an optimal position to swing your hips. This drill mimics the position of your feet and the rotation of your hips when you pull your leg back or throw kicks.
You’ll need an agility ladder or something similar to perform this drill. Here’s what it looks like:
- Stand parallel to the agility ladder and keep your left foot in the first box, while your right foot is outside.
- Swing your right hip in towards the ladder, bringing your right foot inside the next box to your left foot. Your feet should be in opposite boxes at this point.
- Now, pull your right hip out as you bring your right foot out of the box, while simultaneously jumping your left foot to the box your right foot was in. This brings you back to the starting position, but with your left foot now in the second box.
- Keep going until you reach the ladder’s end. Reverse the position of your feet and perform the drill moving in the opposite direction.
The main keys to getting the most out of this drill are to swing your hips inward to simulate a kick and draw your leg back swiftly to stimulate pulling your leg back after a kick. Pivot your opposite foot while swinging your hips, just as you would when kicking.
3) The Side Step Drill
The side step is an intermediate footwork technique that is used to evade strikes powerful straight attacks like knees, front kicks and push kicks. It also creates angles that put you in position to fire kicks off with your back foot once you’re over the centerline.
The popular way to practice this drill is with a training partner who you alternate playing offense and defense with. Here’s what the drill looks like:
- Get into your fighting stance while facing your training partner.
- Your training partner then throws a knee at you, while you sidestep to the outside of your lead foot and pivot off it so you end up at an angle with your opponent.
- Repeat the exercise for about one to three minutes, then take a break and switch roles with your training partner. Aim for three to five rounds of each partner playing defense.
The key to executing the side step is the tiny step you take toward the outside of your lead foot. You only have to move your foot a few inches to the outside, but it significantly affects the effectiveness of the technique.
4) The Icky Shuffle
The icky shuffle is a popular Muay Thai footwork drill, and it’s just as popular with athletes from different sports. The icky shuffle helps to improve your foot coordination and explosive lateral movement which comes in handy when trying to evade strikes or cut off the ring.
You’ll need an agility ladder to perform this drill. Here’s what it looks like:
- Get into the starting position standing parallel to an agility ladder. Step your closest foot into the first box of the ladder, while your other foot remains outside.
- Now, bring your outside foot in and immediately move your inside foot outside the other side of the ladder.
- Step your inside foot forward, bring your outside foot it, and take your outside foot out. Keep repeating the movement pattern until you get to the end of the ladder.
Start slow if you’ve never performed this drill before and focus on getting the movement pattern right. Speed things up once you are comfortable with the movement.
5) Box Step
The box step drill helps to improve your footwork and ability to maintain your balance when moving forward, laterally, or backward. You can also add some shadowboxing while working on your footwork patterns to make the drill more challenging once you get the hang of it.
All you need to perform this drill is some tape and a little bit of tape or chalk. You’ll need to create a square box on the floor. The box should be big enough for you to comfortably move around, without having to open up your stance too wide so you become unbalanced. An 80cm x 80cm square works well for most people.
Here’s what the drill looks like:
- One of the keys to this drill is to always have at least one foot on the square at all times. Get into your fighting stance with one foot on the square to start.
- Practice your footwork, moving forward, backward, and laterally without ever stepping your foot outside the square. Keep going for one to three minutes before taking a break. Aim for three to five rounds.
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