An L-step is a distinctive step that boxers take to quickly move laterally. Moving laterally is necessary if you want to find more angles and openings for your shots. Lateral movement also helps you out of a tight spot, e.g. a corner of the ring and against the ropes. So aside from your regular lateral step which comes from your basic footwork and your pivots, the L-step is a tool for these situations.

What is an L-Step:

An L-step is a quick step to the rear hand side. An orthodox boxer would take an L-step to the right while a southpaw would take one to her left. Its name comes from the fact that you form the short side of the letter “L” with your lead foot and the long side of the letter with your rear foot. It allows for a direct shift to the side, which is useful for evading and even cutting off an opponent. It is only limited to one side due to the way it is done, but it lets you turn an otherwise slower lateral step into a faster, longer one. Because of the the easy lateral movement and the quick in-and-out movement, you can get a shot off quickly or reset an engagement.

How to take an L-Step:

  1. Assuming your stance, have your weight ready to move to your rear hand side. This means that you can be moving left or right, but when you take the L-step, your weight should be centered or to your rear hand side.
  2. Take a step directly back with your lead foot.
  3. Very soon after, take a step directly to the side with your rear foot. At this point your hips may be squared.
  4. Both of these steps should be done almost at the same time so that you do a slight hop as they’re done.
  5. Bring your lead foot to the front, into a ready position.

When to take an L-Step:

As mentioned, the L-step is typically used when cutting the ring off. If your opponent is heading to your rear hand side, a simple L-step should cut her off since the way is now blocked. You can see Gennady Golovkin do the L-step to cut the ring off quicker than usual against many opponents.

Another use for the L-step can be when your opponent comes in to close the distance. When an opponent does this, an L-step can be taken to help you find an angle to land a punch, a straight in particular. The L-step helps you get some distance away from your rear hand and your target, so against an opponent coming straight in, an L-step and then a straight is great way to land a shot.

The last common use for the L-step is when you want to reset the engagement. If your opponent is getting too close or you do not want to let her initiate the engagement, an L-step helps to gain some distance and start circling. It is a little difficult to explain, but I rarely see a boxer throw a punch when the other boxer takes an L-step outside the critical range, which is the range where your opponent would punch. An L-step taken outside of this range stops a potential engagement from happening and discourages your opponent from pursuing. In professional matches, you might see a boxer take an L-step and then the other boxer will lift his head up, drop his hands a little, and get ready to position himself for engaging.


L-steps are limited in use, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful. They’re useful for cutting off the ring, punishing opponents coming straight in, and resetting engagements. Since it is a quick step back and to the side, it can be done easily while letting you have control over your opponent.

Author: Loc Ho

Loc Ho was assistant coach, team captain, and boxed at 139 lbs, 132 lbs, and 125 lbs for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s boxing team from 2016-2019. He has trained hundreds of novices and seasoned athletes and created the program’s year-long training curriculum that has taken complete beginners to elite collegiate competitors. With Loc as assistant coach for three years, the program placed six athletes regionally and nationally, including the program’s first men’s national champion at 119 lbs and a national runner-up at 195 lbs. Loc is currently studying law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

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