Why Do Boxers Skip?

why do boxers skip

Anyone who thought that skipping over a rope was something that only little girls at school did will get a surprise when they enter any boxing gym. These powerful athletes won’t rhyme off “Jack Be Nimble” or “Teddy Bear” while skipping but it is an important part of any boxer’s training routine.

Whether or not most boxers enjoy it is a question for another day, although we will look at some varied techniques to keep it interesting. However, there is no doubt that skipping over a rope brings with it a range of important benefits for this sport.

They Get Fancier Footwork

The best and most successful boxers in history tend to have had outrageously good footwork. Who can forget how Muhammad Ali dazzled and befuddled rivals by floating like a butterfly before stinging like a bee?

Another boxer who had legendary footwork was the wonderful Sugar Ray Leonard, who could dance around the ring effortlessly. Among more contemporary fighters many fans rate Floyd Mayweather and Guillermo Rigondeaux as having the best footwork around.
To put it simply, without good footwork you can’t expect to throw solid punches or effectively avoid the blows that come your way.

So, how do jump ropes help in this respect? Well, jumping quickly over a fast-moving rope gives the boxer lightness and agility on their feet. It helps them to stay on their toes and feel confident about moving out of danger when they need to.

Take a look at this video to see some of the finest moments of fancy footwork ever witnessed in a boxing ring.

To Improve Their Timing

A fantastic sense of timing is vital for any boxer. Knowing when to hit, when to duck and when to move is the key to winning fights.

Clearly, some people are born with a naturally good sense of timing. In boxing, these people can choose their counter attack punches to perfection without seemingly working on it too much. Yet, most of us need to work on co-ordinating our hands, feet and brain to work together in moments of stress.

When a boxer skips for long period of times they automatically learn to move their feet and their wrists in harmony if they don’t want to end up in an embarrassing heap on the gym floor.

Perhaps the most stunning example of good timing was when Muhammad Ali unveiled his outrageous rope a dope tactic against the mighty power of George Foreman. In this famous fight, he relied on choosing his moment to attack wisely and then making a co-ordinated assault more than just fancy footwork.

Take a look at this video too, as you will see how a delicious sense of timing can overcome even amazing speed.

For a Great Sense of Balance

Skipping also gives you a great sense of balance, which is crucial in the boxing ring. A boxer who is off balance is begging to get put on the canvas, while a well-balanced boxer is tougher to knock down and will also throw firmer punches.

This is an area of boxing skill that too many people fail to concentrate on enough. Having a wonderful sense of balance might not be as exciting as having lightning fast feet or punches that could knock down a fully grown kangaroo.

Yet, it is a skill that can help you to make the most of your other attributes. Your brain has to keep all of the moving parts in harmony and balanced when you are skipping, which helps you to keep your balance more naturally in the future.

To Increase Stamina and Endurance Levels

Who is the boxer with most stamina and endurance that you have ever seen? Some people might say Rocky Marciano for his ability to blitz opponents with equally devastating attacks at the end of the fight as at the start.

Other might say names such as Joe Frazier or Evander Holyfield. All boxers have to be incredibly fit but those that are still fresh and full of energy after 8 or 9 rounds are going to be far more successful than one who has run out of steam by that point.

If you look at some of the fittest and most successful boxers of all time you will see that they all had a punishing training routine based on the equipment and fitness knowledge of their time. However, what is common throughout boxing is the use of a skipping rope to boost stamina.

This is one of the simplest and most accessible ways of building up strong lungs and the ability to keep going for longer in the ring.

Following a Boxing Tradition

There is something about jumping a rope that brings to mind all of the great boxing figures of the past. When you do this exercise you can probably easily imagine all of the great boxers that we have looked at here doing it with you.

If it was good enough for the best fighters of all time then it is good enough for anyone who wants to give themselves the right physical attributes for being successful in the ring these days too.

Different Methods

Just doing basic skips with a rope can get boring after a while and will also lose effectiveness after some time too. This is why boxers will mix up their technique to get a varied and interesting workout that gives them all of the benefits that we have looked at here.

If you have ever watched a top class boxer like Floyd Mayweather skipping rope then you will see a jaw-dropping display of power and speed that is truly spell binding. These boxers switch effortlessly from one style to another at lightning speed but how can you get started easily on a few valuable types of skip?

The Basic Boxer Skip

  • This is the starting point for the jumping rope. It is important to remember that a boxer doesn’t jump with both feet at the same time like a little girl does! Instead, they shift their weight from one foot to the other to try and recreate the type of movement that needs to be carried out in the ring.
  • The feet need to be slightly offset to do this, which also lets the boxer move around in any direction he wants while skipping.
  • This skipping method also helps lower the risk of shin problems, as there is a lower level of impact with each landing.
  • The basic boxer skip is more about lifting the feet off the ground smoothly rather than jumping abruptly to get a lot of height.

Side Swings

  • This is often how a boxer will get started on their routine, by swinging the rope from side to side in a figure of 8 pattern.
  • You don’t skip over the rope with this exercise but you do get to practice your footwork and overall coordination. Over time, you will want to tighten up your movements, so that your arms barely move as you do it.
  • This move can be done with both handles in just one arm or with a handle in each hand at the same time.
  • The next step is to learn when and how to jump in. This involves separating the rope just as it arrives to the boxer. This takes some time to get used to for most people.
  • It can be a good idea to practice foot movement while doing side swings and before jumping in.

Criss-crossing the Rope

  • This is a visually impressive way of skipping that is difficult to master.
  • The best starting point is by placing the rope behind the body and crossing it over as it comes down towards the body. This can be done without jumping over the rope until you are ready to go.
  • After that, it is a good idea to jump over the rope just once after crossing. This single jump can be repeated a number of times to help increase confidence levels little by little.
  • The next phase involves making two jumps, which means crossing and uncrossing the rope once.
  • Finally, the process of stringing together as series of cross should be possible after this practising period. The key is to find a steady, consistent rhythm and not to get confused about when to cross and uncross the rope each time.

More Complicated Moves

  • Once you have mastered the basic rope skipping move then you should feel comfortable about trying some of the advanced techniques that top boxers dazzle us with.
  • This includes the like of double unders and double under crosses. These are exciting and extremely difficult moves that will also give you more benefits that regular skips.


There are some terrific reasons why boxers always skip over a rope as part of their training routines. If you are planning to learn how to box then you will definitely want to start skipping to get fitter and feel ready to enter the ring.

Best of all, if you take some time to learn some of the most advanced techniques then it isn’t going to be boring or get too easy too soon.