Boxing Basics – Becoming A Better Fighter

Success in boxing stems from having the basics down. Punching technique and variety, correct footwork, head movements, types of guard, parrying, pivoting, counter punching and basic positioning against different styles of opponents are all fundamental skills as a coach when trying to develop the “perfect fighter”. Although this list is relatively long, it can be made more concise by removing the “flare” components and focusing in the pure basics – Positioning, footwork and punch technique. If you can lock down these fundamental foundations then flare and “showboating” can be added where necessary and style adaptations can be included to suit your personal preferences. Here are a few points to get locked down and practice repeatedly to help you develop as a fighter.

Boxing Basics – Becoming A Better Fighter – Basic position

  1. Front foot pointing towards the target and back foot slightly offset and perpendicular to the front foot creating a “90 degree” angle with the feet. This ensures you are balanced and enables you to rotate with your punches, move your head, move your feet and stay firm under pressure.
  2. Chin should always be firmly in the “down” position. Your forehead (the hardest part of the head) should be pointed at the target, looking out of the tops of your eyes with your mouth closed. Open mouths result in broken jaws.
  3. Hands, although styles vary, should begin in the high guard position resting gently on the cheekbones ready to move to block, parry and cover up. The cheekbones are the perfect position to hold the hands at because then they won’t obscure your vision but can still be quickly moved to defend an opponents punches where necessary.

Boxing Basics – Becoming A Better Fighter – Footwork

  1. This is the most simple aspect of boxing and yet, far too frequently, the one that is neglected and left to figure itself out. Simply put, when moving left you should move your left foot first. When moving right you should move the right foot first. When moving backwards, the back foot takes the first step and when moving forwards, the front foot takes the lead.
  2. Steps must always be equidistant and your feet should never be narrower than your shoulders. maintaining the distance between your feet creates a stronger and more balanced stance enabling harder punches and a greater variety of effective defensive movements.
  3. Cut off the ring when you are moving with an opponent – following in circles can be a costly move and will result in the loss of attacking opportunities.

Boxing Basics – Becoming A Better Fighter – Punch Technique 

  1. Always landing with your “big knuckles” is the key to effective punching. The inside of the glove should only be used for parrying and defending. When you punch you are aiming to land with the hardest part of your hand, with a firm wrist and the correct hand position for the punch you are throwing.
  2. Hips and shoulders rotate to generate leverage and power. This requires good core muscles, a strong position and relaxation through the arms. Tension doesn’t add power, it slows the punches. Speed and rotation create velocity and velocity equals knockout power. The faster you move your arm with maximum possible rotation the harder you will punch.
  3. Non-punching hand must always be high. There is no reason why your non punching hand should be anywhere but your chin irrelevant of your preferred boxing position. Hands held low should be raised as you punch to ensure simultaneous punching doesn’t result in you getting “tagged”.

Boxing Basics – Becoming A Better Fighter – Additional Tips

  1. Practice moving your head – a static fighter is an easy fighter to hit. The combination of head movement and foot work can be far more effective in defence than a simple guard. Flex at the knees and bend at the hips. Avoid squatting when ducking as the head must move laterally outside the line of the punching hand to be effective defensively and to set up sensible and safe counter punches. If the opponent is throwing the left hand you are aiming to get to your right and vice versa.
  2. Perfect practice is the key. Slow down your practice and repeat again and again until you can’t find any weaknesses – then ask somebody else to watch you and find weaknesses. Once you have corrected those, find the best coach you can and ask them to correct your weaknesses. Boxing is a sport that takes a lifetime to reach any level of competence with – don’t expect over night success.
  3. Watch the best and most accomplished fighters throughout history and “cherry pick” their best features. For example, you will struggle to find a fighter with better head movement than Pernell Whittaker. For punching technique you can look at K.O artists such as Julian Jackson, Ernie Shavers or more recently Gennady Golovkin. For footwork and range management there are very few fighters that have done it better than Floyd Mayweather – managing distance and ensuring he was always in a position to attack safely was the name of the game . Floyd also has one of the highest punch accuracy rates in history so take a tip from his timing and punch technique. Other great fighters to watch are Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Mike Tyson. Don’t limit your understanding of boxing – watch as many fighters as possible to broaden your range of knowledge and be selective in which skills you take on board to suit your style and aspirations as a fighter.

Lastly, i think it’s important to state that boxing isn’t the kind of sport you can learn from books, blogs or videos. Boxing is a sport that requires experience, understanding and application. To be proficient in boxing you must practice boxing on a regular, consistent and focused basis with the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced coach to guide you and correct your mistakes. If you are looking to find a boxing coach then check out my article on finding the right coach for you here (

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