Why Shadow Boxing Is Important

With a long history from 3,000 years before Christ (BC) in Iraq, boxing had been a way of life in society. 

Many pro boxers and wrestlers trained by punching alone in shadowboxing as a warm-up and cool-down.

Even Ronda Rousey practice shadowboxing as seen by Conor McGregor.

So, ever wonder why is shadowboxing so important? Shadowboxing was a routine created by boxers to get into the right mindset before every fight, conditioning their rhythm and techniques together with the proper breathing technique. Using shadowboxing, a boxer would focus only on the upcoming fight and training conducted and forget about other distractions in life or past fights. 

Types of Shadowboxing

There are 2 kinds of shadowboxing with different purposes

  1. Reflective Shadowboxing
  2. Passive Shadowboxing

1. Reflective Shadowboxing

Reflective Shadowboxing meant having an assistant or typically facing a mirror alone to see your boxing form and technique and improve it. it is 

  • Slower and low intensity
  • Focused on glaring errors you make when punching or improvement you can make in your movement.
  • There is also no need to focus on your breathing (unless you have an assistant to help you see)

2. Passive Shadowboxing

Passive shadowboxing is the more common shadowboxing used to focus on warm-up and improving your breathing. It is

  • Faster and Medium Intensity
  • Focused on improving your technique and breathing during punches

3 Myths about Shadowboxing

The reason that most people shadowbox is that it is the easiest way to warm up your muscles used in boxing rather than doing a regular warm up. Here are some myths to shadowboxing:

  • Myth 1: You must imagine what your opponent will be doing and countering them in shadowboxing. Seriously, this is why people find shadowboxing pointless and useless because a real person never follows what you think. Instead, focused on yourself and your technique.
  • Myth 2: The longer your shadowbox, the better you are in boxing. You really don't need more than 15 minutes to get your body into the right mindset from shadowboxing. That is why many boxing and MMA gyms implement only 6 minutes (2 X 3-minute rounds) to 15 minutes (5 X 3-minute rounds) for shadow boxing.
  • Myth 3: You will do similar actions in every shadowboxing sessions. While it looks the same when you see professional boxer shadowbox, usually they focus on one or two points to improve in each session. Read on to learn more.

What Does Shadowboxing Improves

Besides warm up, below are some focus point you can have during your to improve your shadowboxing.

  • Technique – Following reflective shadowboxing, you can go slow, take your time, and check out your form in your mirror or from an assistant. Choose 1 or 2 actions to focus on. Once that part feels right, you can move on to another detail or try the movement in it’s entirety. This is similar to how dancers learn moves too.
  • Coordination – Some people are talented in moving around the arena advantageously. This can also be improved by training. You can try different rhythms on when you will move in and pull your jab technique for both your hands. The focus is getting the footwork correct first then your punches will get the full power. 
  • Rhythm – This is a simple and most common thing you improve with shadowboxing. You can work on your rhythm together with 3-4 punches, 3-4 slips, 3-4 steps, and repeat. Don't worry too much about the technique since you would should do it at reflective shadowboxing.
  • Strategy – Shadowboxing is perfect for working on key strategic moments prior to a fight. You will train your muscle memory to reach what you want rather than your natural instinct that might lead to running away from a great opportunity to put in a jab.

When to Stop Shadowboxing

Many people stop shadowboxing in training and only used a quick version just to warm up their muscle memory before a fight. This is common as shadowboxing is most useful when you are new to boxing.

As you get better, you tend to train differently and will focus on your strategy. You should not shadowbox if you come out of it feeling useless or worse. Shadowboxing is meant to improve your state of mind and mindset.

Some professional boxers still maintain their shadowboxing routines as it is a habit, just like some people touting making your bed in the morning will lead to success.


    Shadowboxing will remain in the industry as a useful way to let new boxers train up and get into boxing. Besides that, professional boxers who loved the mindset and state of mind coming out from shadowboxing still practice it regliously.

    It is a controversial topic as some who find shadowboxing a waste of time and repetitive. The most important is focused on what improve you and yourself only.

    Sky Hoon. About
    Martial Art Fan
    He started his love on martial arts by watching MMA and Angela Lee. He then started this blog to learn more about the different martial arts.
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