Lesson plan: KS3/4 PE – boxing for fitness

Sport is part of my past, present and future. It’s taken me to the most amazing places and helped me through difficult times. When Sport Relief asked me to get involved I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give my support to something that I’m passionate about, and at the same time help make a difference to people living tough lives in the UK and across the world’s poorest countries. The activities here give your students the same opportunity, using boxing-related fitness for Sport Relief fundraising.

In the last national school sport survey in 2010, 38% of secondary schools were already offering boxing in some form – mostly as an after-school activity. Here, boxing training becomes the focus for key stage 3 PE activities, encouraging students to be physically active for sustained periods of time and improve their fitness for competitive sports. Boxing is fantastic for developing speed, stamina and strength, and is a great way to engage previously inactive youngsters. Training for the ring teaches self-discipline, commitment and concentration, building confidence and acting as a safe outlet for aggression.

By whetting your students appetite for a new sport, I hope that some of them will go on to join a boxing club and, like me, change their life.


As the world’s first female boxing Olympic champion, perhaps not surprisingly I’m a firm believer in my sport’s benefits for young people. In this lesson plan, the basics of boxing technique and training are used as a starting point for fundraising for Sport Relief, a cause very dear to my heart. It’s a winning combination!


Start by asking the students what they know about boxing. How many boxers can they name? Do they know about the different weight classes? Can they name any punches? Show the students some film of boxing (as an example, search for ‘Nicola Adams Olympic Rewind’, which is a three-minute compilation of my fights from the quarter-finals onwards at the 2012 Olympic Games).

Having watched the film, ask the students what physical and mental qualities they think are needed for boxing? What did they see in the performance? Encourage them to talk about speed, agility, stamina, strength, balance, control, determination, concentration and mental toughness.

Explain that boxing isn’t all about the contact – thousands of hours of practice and training go into creating a champion. Tell the students that in these activities they’re going to have the chance to take their first steps towards becoming the next boxing great!


1. Shadowboxing

In preparation for this lesson, brush up on some basic boxing techniques, for example:

  • Boxing stance (one foot behind the other, on balls of feet, knees slightly bent, elbows down, fists raised)
  • Footwork (forwards and backwards, side to side)
  • Jab (a quick, straight punch)
  • Cross (a powerful, straight punch across the body, rotating from the hips)

There are videos online to help.

As a warm-up, get the students to jog around the sports hall or gym on their toes, moving forwards, backwards, to the left and right. Encourage them to keep their movements as light and rhythmical as possible.

Ask the students to spread out so there is plenty of space around them. Explain that boxers use shadowboxing – sparring with an imaginary opponent – to prepare their muscles for fighting. Demonstrate each of the different techniques in turn, showing supporting images if possible and helping the students to copy the actions accurately and with control.

Once the students are familiar with the different techniques, start putting them together into combinations, e.g. move forward, jab, cross, jab, move back. Get faster and more complicated as the students gain confidence!

At the end of the session, watch the boxing film again with the students to see whether they can spot the different techniques they have learned.

2. Fitness fundraiser

My training routine is intense. A typical day involves a run first thing in the morning, strength and conditioning

mid-morning and then a boxing session in the afternoon. The strength and conditioning work in the gym is absolutely key – I regularly do 400 sit-ups a day. Why not set up a sponsored fitness circuit for the students based on a typical boxing training routine?

You could incorporate:

  • Sit-ups
  • Press-ups
  • Squats
  • Squat thrusts
  • Leg raises
  • Tricep dips
  • Burpees
  • Jumping jacks
  • Skipping

Ask your students to collect sponsorship to complete the circuit.

3. Sponsored skipathon

Skipping is an essential part of boxers’ training. Jumping over a rope is a fantastic way to develop speed, agility, stamina, balance, rhythm and footwork in preparation for boxing. Organise a sponsored skipathon for Sport Relief. You could:

  • Hold a marathon skipping relay race
  • Set a challenge – How many skips can students to do in a minute? How long can they keep skipping without making a mistake?
  • Try long rope skipping for a lesson, with students running in and out of the rope

As your students gain confidence, encourage them to experiment with crossing over the rope, bringing their knees towards their chest as they jump and kicking up their heels.


Encourage students who are particularly keen or show an aptitude for boxing to join a local club. There is a club finder on the England Boxing website at www.abae.co.uk


Encourage the students to collect as much sponsorship as they can for their Sport Relief boxing fundraiser. After the event has taken place, remind them to bring in their sponsorship money as soon as possible. To develop students’ learning, ask them to research other boxing techniques, for example the hook, uppercut, pivoting, ducking, bobbing and weaving. They could demonstrate the new techniques to their classmates back in school and lead them in trying more complicated shadowboxing combinations.


GB Boxing: gbboxing.org.uk

England Boxing: abae.co.uk

Sport Relief: sportrelief.com


Talk with the students about what they have learnt about boxing as a result of these activities and recap on its benefits. Do they now think differently of boxing as a sport? Would they be more likely to watch it? Would anyone like to learn more or take part in boxing outside school?


Nicola Adams MBE was born in Leeds. She started boxing at the age of 12 and is the reigning Olympic, Commonwealth and European champion. She is passionate about Sport Relief and in 2014, she visited a project in South Africa that helps children affected by HIV and AIDS. Sport Relief will take place from 18–20 March 2016.