Pendulum Step


When you imagine a pendulum, you’d probably think of the thing that swings in a grandfather’s clock, a thing swinging with a certain rhythm. In a similar way for boxing, the pendulum step is a rhythmic, quick back-and-forth step. You can sometimes see professional boxers do this, but this footwork is most easily seen in amateur boxing. This is because amateur boxing typically requires a high work rate, even though the bouts are scored using a 10-point-must system. After all, boxing for less than 4 rounds leaves little time for slow footwork. For an example of masterful use of the pendulum step, refer to the Kazakh Olympians Serik Sapiyev or Bakhyt Sarsekbayev.

What is the Pendulum Step:

The pendulum step is a type of footwork where the boxer consecutively “bounces” back and forth. The boxer bounces so that both feet are momentarily off the floor. It is a simple technique but its execution is difficult. But, you may ask, why would a boxer do a technique that requires her to have a foot off the floor, let alone both feet?

There are two advantages to the pendulum step. The advantages are that you can move in and out of range quickly. The easiest and most certain way to defend is to simply move out of range. If you are too far, a punch cannot hit you. The pendulum step is very good at this way of defending because the back-and-forth bouncing allows your position to already be moving. If you are already moving in or out of range, then the sooner you will be in or out of range. The second advantage is that the pendulum step helps you maintain a certain rhythm; you jab on the forward bounces, you throw when in, defend when out, and counter on the backward bounces. The rhythm it provides gives you a familiarity in what you are doing so that you can focus on timing, countering, etc.

There are two disadvantages to the pendulum step.  The first is that the constant bouncing can tire you quickly. This is a big disadvantage because if you’re tired, you cannot box effectively, risking injury to yourself. The second disadvantage is that your feet are off the ground momentarily. A keen opponent would take advantage of this unless you are better at the pendulum step than he is at timing. The way to overcome this disadvantage is to work on your rhythm and timing when using the pendulum step.

How to:

  1. Assuming either high guard and/or your regular stance, very slightly shift your weight onto your rear leg.
  2. Take a small bounce forward using your rear leg to push up and over.
  3. Land lightly on your rear foot and less lightly on your lead foot.
  4. Use the forward momentum to very slightly shift your weight onto your lead leg.
  5. Bounce back and land lightly on your lead foot and less lightly on your rear foot.
  6. Use the backwards momentum to very slightly shift your weight onto your rear leg.
  7. Punch when both feet are landed. Note: A solid landing is needed for any punch other than the jab.

When to:

You’d use the pendulum step when you want to move in and out quickly, when you want to primarily counter, and when you are in an amateur bout. All three of these are enabled by the fact that the pendulum step keeps your feet (and you) moving. Your feet are moving so that you have the momentum necessary to move in and out quicker than normal; they are moving so that you are positioned left, right, or away from a punch and can come over with your own; and they are moving so that you can get that high work rate required for amateur boxing.


The pendulum step is simple, as it is just back and forth bouncing. It is hard to execute however, as it requires a feel for when to punch, a feel for the rhythm and timing, and a high level of stamina.  This difficulty in execution is balanced by the advantages that the pendulum step brings: quick movement and rhythm maintenance.

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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