How to Perform Side Shuffles

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Side Shuffle Sprints

Also Known As: Lateral shuffles

Targets: Butt, hips, thighs, calves

Equipment Needed: Body weight

Level: Beginner

The side shuffle is a popular agility exercise used among athletes of all fitness levels. It’s considered an agility drill that helps develop coordination, balance, and quickness. This exercise is often used by basketball, tennis, and soccer players to improve their ability to move quickly in every direction.

Performing the side shuffle is also a great way to add some cardio into your existing workout program. The lateral movement can boost your metabolism which increases your calorie burn during exercise.

Side shuffles may also be a useful movement for sports specialists and clinicians to evaluate knee valgus (knock-kneed appearance) according to research.

The exercise is easy to perform, adds fun and variety to your workouts, and has lots of benefits for the athlete and non-athlete alike. 


The side shuffle is an agility exercise that targets the glutes, hips, thighs, and calves. Performing this exercise has many benefits and is shown to improve the following:

  • Balance
  • Agility
  • Coordination
  • Multi-directional movement
  • Speed and quickness
  • Neuromuscular response time
  • Reflexes
  • Confidence
  • Functional fitness 

Adding agility exercises like the side shuffle can help an athlete stop, move, and pivot quickly on the court. These necessary directional shifts greatly improve athletic performance during a game.

It also enables the non-athlete to quickly regain balance after an unpredictable step off a curb. In other words, adding side shuffles to your routine can prepare you for the unexpected - dodging a moving vehicle or falling object for example.

Side shuffles are also fun and add variety to your workout routine which helps keep exercise motivation high.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Performing the side shuffle is a great way to strengthen your lower body and improve multi-directional movement. The exercise requires minimal setup and is completed as follows:

  1. Stand with your feet hip distance apart.
  2. Hinge/bend forward at the hips, knees bent, looking forward, chest lifted, and neutral spine.
  3. Hold your hands in loose fists in front of your chest.
  4. Move right using small quick shuffle steps for a determined amount of time - repeat movement to the left side.
  5. Continue shuffling right and left for a timed interval or determined amount of reps. 

Common Mistakes

The side shuffle is a creative way to add cardio to your workout but there are a few common mistakes to avoid during the exercise.

Not Keeping Core Engaged

The side shuffle is a lateral movement that requires attention to proper body mechanics including a tight core. Keeping your core engaged helps you maintain good posture and form during the movement. It also reduces the risk of falls as you quickly shift from side to side.

The Chest is Not Lifted

There is a tendency to bend too far forward and drop the chest during side shuffles. It is important to keep your chest lifted, look forward, and maintain good form during the exercise.

Stepping Too Wide

The exercise is performed with small quick shuffle steps side to side. Stepping too wide can slow your pace and reduce the effectiveness of the movement. 

Not Bending Your Knees

Side shuffles are performed with a slight hinge forward at the hips and bent knees. Not bending at the knees means you are not set up correctly to perform the exercise. Be aware of your body position before performing the exercise to ensure good form and technique. 

Modifications and Variations

The side shuffle is an agility exercise for all fitness levels. The progressions and variations make this exercise easy to incorporate into your existing workout routine.

Need a Modification?

If you’re new to agility training, you may want to apply a modification or similar exercise as follows:

  • Perform a single step side to side. This will help you get comfortable with lateral body movement before adding in the quick shuffles.
  • Keep the side shuffles slow and controlled before adding speed. This will help you gain body awareness and confidence during the exercise before picking up the shuffling pace.

Up for a Challenge?

The side shuffle is a progressive agility exercise that can be modified to increase exercise intensity as follows:

  • Pick up the shuffling pace during the exercise for an increased challenge. You will be working harder and faster for the timed interval increasing blood flow and caloric expenditure.
  • Increase the distance of your side shuffles per side moving right and then back to the left. A farther target point in each direction will boost the intensity of the movement for a more advanced exercise.
  • Touch the ground at the end and between the right and left shuffle to increase the challenge of the exercise. This will look similar to a basketball line drill or shuttle run except performed laterally.

Safety and Precautions

The side shuffle is an agility drill that can help you develop better balance, coordination, and quickness. The lateral movement requires attention to proper body position, form and function during the exercise. The following tips will help you perform the movement safely and effectively:

  • Keep your chest lifted and eyes looking forward.
  • Engage your core throughout the movement.
  • Shuffle at a slower pace if you are new to agility training.
  • Gradually increase your speed after you have mastered good form and technique.
  • Keep your knees bent during the exercise.
  • Avoid performing the exercise if you have a lower-extremity injury or instability as abrupt shifts in direction could pose a risk to unstable joints.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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