Cross-training for Boxing

Boxing has become a popular alternative training method for athletes of nearly every sport. Among other skills, boxing improves conditioning, hand-eye coordination, and footwork. It also allows athletes to break out of their usual routine and try something new. Most boxers are as routine as it comes, though, when it comes to training: They wake up early in the morning to run, go to the gym in the evening for skill training, and finish the day with some core or weight training.

However, there’s nothing wrong with deviating from your normal training every once in a while. Cross-training helps you break a monotonous schedule and develop other skills to improve your overall athleticism. This guide looks at other sports that may be useful to you as a boxer.


Joseph Pilates, the founder of the fitness system now referred to as “Pilates,” hoped to improve overall strength, flexibility, and body control with his program. Pilates has become increasingly popular in recent years as athletes look for a challenge and an alternative way to train.

Here’s a brief description of Pilates’ six principles:

  1. Concentration: The practice requires incredible focus.
  2. Control: You are forced to actively control the various muscle groups of the body.
  3. Centering: All movement begins from the core.
  4. Flow or efficiency of movement: The discipline encourages efficiency when moving from one exercise to the next.
  5. Precision: Pilates emphasize quality over quantity.
  6. Breathing: You must breathe in order to relax and stay calm during challenging movements.

Some benefits to boxers:

  • Ability to stay calm and focused.
  • Increased core strength.
  • Increased overall flexibility.


Yoga began over 5,000 years ago in India. Many different forms of yoga are practiced today, but the goals of the practice are the same throughout:

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Increase strength and flexibility
  3. Improve overall health

Generally, yoga can be thought of as a series of stretches — known as poses — incorporating controlled-breathing techniques.

Benefits to boxers:

  • Improved flexibility and strength
  • Better balance
  • Relief from pain, and improved recovery
  • Improvement in cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune system health


Basketball is one of the most popular sports worldwide, and pick-up games are relatively easy to find no matter where you live. Basketball involves many skills that are applicable to boxing and will help you improve in the ring.

Basketball involves running up and down the court constantly, but you’re generally concentrated on the game itself instead of the relentless movement. Because basketball improves your conditioning level, it’s a great supplement to your boxing roadwork.

Basketball also improves:

  • Footwork
  • Overall quickness
  • Coordination
  • Vision


Soccer is also extremely popular worldwide (in fact, it’s possibly the most played sport in the world). In many ways, soccer parallels basketball and lacrosse: You constantly run, but overlook the mileage you’re tracking.

Not surprisingly, soccer doesn’t require much use of the hands, though, so you develop amazing foot coordination. Similar to basketball, you’ll notice improvements in your footwork, quickness, and vision. These two sports incorporate short bursts of speed as you receive the ball and try to fake out a defender, or stop an opponent from getting to the net.


Swimming, when practiced recreationally, is an endurance sport. Athletes generally incorporate swimming in order to improve aerobic capabilities. If you can swim quickly while staying controlled, though, you can also instill an aspect of anaerobic exercise into your workout as well. Swimming is a total body workout.

As a boxer, you can use swimming to improve:

  • Shoulder endurance
  • Core strength
  • Conditioning
  • Breathing control


Tennis is a fast-paced game that requires quick reactions. Players need to keep their feet moving, split step as the opponent hits the ball, and then quickly explode towards the ball. These skills carry over to the ring, as tennis improves your:

  • Footwork
  • Ability to react quickly
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Ability to change direction quickly

As you spar, you must be able to react to your opponent’s vulnerabilities and do your best to quickly exploit his momentary openings. Tennis improves your overall athleticism, making you a much better defender and counter-puncher.

Enliven Your Routine

This guide touches upon many different sports, but there’s no reason to limit yourself to this list. In reality, you can practice nearly any sport and receive some kind of benefit as an athlete.

A burnout can be avoided with proactive steps, one of which is incorporating other practices and sports into your training. Without a doubt, you must be in the boxing gym almost every day in order to prepare yourself for the challenges of the ring. Boxing should be fun, though, and playing other sports can take some of the stress off of your training.

Share the knowledge