Boxing Footwork – Why You Must Learn To Pivot


Why You Must Learn to Pivot

The pivot is often an overlooked skill in boxing. There have been times I have trained guys who have been training at clubs for a year or more and have never been taught how to use the pivot. This is shocking because pivoting is a basic skill you must master when learning footwork, and footwork of course provides the foundation for which to build your skills around, very rarely will a fighter with poor footwork go far in the sport.
Floyd Mayweather Jnr said it best after his fight with Andre Berto which lifted his record to 49-0…”I can look at a fighter and tell you what he can do good and what he can’t do good…you must be able to pivot, for starters…foot movement, pivot, certain terms, certain angles…”


Pivot can be used as both an attacking and defensive movement, examples of defensive movement are pivoting with the roll, Floyd Mayweather Jnr himself used this against the southpaw Manny Pacquio. Guillermo Rigondeaux is another example who would use the pivot combined with the roll to avoid the punch and change the angle. Combining the pivot with a roll also helps to change direction, twist(pivot), step, roll and you have changed direction.
It can also be used as a standalone defensive move, such as pivoting to avoid the right cross of an orthodox fighter. When faced with a pressure fighter, pivoting will change the angle forcing your opponent to constantly reset to get their punches off, pressure fighters like to come forward throwing punches, by using the pivot you upset their rhythm, use the pivot especially against fighters who like to walk forward in straight lines trying to bulldoze you down.

Proper pivoting requires proper boxing shoes…


It is also excellent when using the pivot to attack, for example if your opponent is on the ropes, a simple jab, pivot, left hook to the body is an effective move, or jab, cross, step back to draw your opponent off the ropes, pivot, left hook to the body. Ricky Hatton was extremely effective at attacking his opponent on the ropes by either pivoting or shifting side to side, Mike Tyson was another example. An example from the current class of fighters would of course be Vasyl Lomachenko who possesses arguably the greatest footwork in the world, Lomachenko is an expert at using pivots and shifts to change angles and his nimble footwork allows him to pivot before his opponent even has a chance to react, ironically it was a pivot which was used to nullify his attacking pivots, Jorge Linares used the pivot and roll to prevent Lomachenko from pivoting and attacking with shots of his own.


Constantly use the pivot when sparring, shadow boxing or fighting, incorporate it into your style. I am not sure why there is not a bigger emphasis placed on perfecting the pivot, even when just moving to your left around the ring, I would recommend using the pivot as part of your footwork since you never want to be moving back in straight lines. Perhaps young boxers don’t see the pivot as a fancy move so do not work as hard on the technique, whether it is used defensively, people like to see the slips and the rolls not the subtle pivot, when used as an attacking move, people want to big shots thrown not a slight pivot to change the angle of attack, these little nuances are not as eye catching but they are every bit as or even more effective than those flashy moves which catch the eye.


The pivot is an efficient movement which does not use excessive energy but is still extremely effective, it is a slight movement which makes a massive improvement to your game. You can perform the pivot by standing in your stance and pushing off your front foot if going to the left, and pushing off your right foot if going to the right(orthodox fighters). Remember when pivoting you are not going out of the stance, so you return to your stance, ensure your stance does not become too narrow or that you are lifting your back foot off the ground – remain balanced throughout and think of it more as a quarter turn, you are not pivoting full circle. Below is a video I made in the past which shows a couple of ways of using the pivot.

About the author 


Boxing Coach
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Boxing Author of:

The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival

Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit!

Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle

*Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used for educational purposes and in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.


boxing footwork, floyd mayweather jnr, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jorge Linares, mike tyson, pivot, Ricky Hatton, Vasyl Lomachenko

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