The Neutral Corner: Shadowboxing; Your First Opponent Is Yourself

Shadowbox- to spar with an imaginary opponent as a form of training. 

For most people just learning to box, shadowboxing is probably your arch nemesis. I get it, standing in front of a mirror looking at yourself throw punches can feel kind of weird (especially when you’re not even sure you’re doing it correctly!) It’s a daunting task for the beginner to the master, but let me assure you, shadowboxing is the single most valuable tool when learning correct technique and form. Time to take a look at the man or woman in the mirror… and throw a couple jabs at yourself!

It’s important to understand what shadowboxing is, or rather the response that it’s supposed to give, as a form of training. Shadowboxing allows the participant to visualize themselves mentally by looking in the mirror. As a coach, shadowboxing gives the opportunity to correct and demonstrate proper mechanics and body position. Typically done as a warm up before a workout, shadowboxing also helps prepare you for the ” rhythm” of combat sports- something that is very hard to do without actual contact. Before you get discouraged when you feel goofy punching at yourself in the mirror, remember it’s like anything else, you have to crawl before you can walk.



5 Tips to Become a Better Shadowboxer:

– Mentally look at yourself as an opponent. Throw your shots aiming at your reflection.

– Always make a solid fist. Work on turning your hands over to practice making contact with the right part of the hand.

– Jab. Jab. Jab. If you were taught correctly, it’s the first punch you learned, and it’s for a reason. Also because your jab is thrown with your weaker hand, shadow boxing will help develop strength, speed, and endurance, and in the off hand, help develop equal coordination.

– Move your feet. You wouldn’t just stand in front of your opponent in the ring would you? This is an important part of that boxing “rhythm” you’re warming up for.

– Stay lose. Also important to the “rhythm” of boxing. Staying lose is one of the hardest thing to do when boxing. Focus on staying relaxed and not forcing your movements.


If you’re not already, start incorporating shadow boxing into your boxing warm up. 3-4 three minute rounds is sufficient, and it can be done with or without hand wraps. Keep the pace vigorous when warming up, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better shadow boxer in no time… Go be great!

Jeff Hunter
About the Author:

Jeff Hunter. Passion for fitness and results based training is what drives Jeff to share his knowledge with the world. With over 6 years of experience as a personal trainer and strength & conditioning coach, Jeff brings a wide range of practical know-how from his experience with the general population and also elite athletes. Jeff is certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is also a USAW and USA boxing coach. You can find him training out of the Everlast Lab in Hoboken, NJ.