Like the alley-oop in basketball, the curve-ball in baseball and the spike in volleyball, your boxing punch can be two things simultaneously: a complete basic and a serious secret weapon. In one sense, it’s the move that you have to know well before you enter the ring. In another, when done right, it can be a literal match-ender, leaving you with the grand prize.
Though it seems simple, a powerful boxing punch can take years to master, but for the ultimate beginner, there are a few things you can do to up your game fast. Here are some ways you can learn to land the perfect punch.
- Know Your Punches — Know that not all punches are created equal. In fact, there are dozens of fundamental boxing punches that you should know before you strap on a pair of gloves. All punches have their own purpose, so understanding how to punch is just as important as understanding when to throw the right one. Here are a few of the most basic ones:
- Jab — This quick, short punch is used to set up other punches, to distract your opponent or to create openings.
- Cross — Typically used as a lead punch or a counterpunch, the cross or straight punch is thrown across your body, crossing your leading arm, to deliver a powerful punch.
- Hook — The right hook and left hook are some of the most recognizable punches in boxing. They’re used by pivoting the core and back and punching with your arm at a 90-degree angle.
- Uppercut — The uppercut gets its name because the boxer punches upward, with the fist moving vertically until it reaches the opponent’s chin.
- Perfect Your Form — Did we mention that boxing is all about the basics? There’s no fancy stuff here — no balls, bats, goals… all you have is your body and your opponent, so understanding every tiny, little movement is paramount to success in the ring. Because of this, serious boxers often spend years perfecting their punching form.
Work on your stance, with your dominant shoulder facing your opponent, your legs shoulder-width apart and your left foot pointed forward, to set yourself up for the perfect punch. Different punches will require different positions of the upper body and core, so you may need to adjust your stance with your strategy.
- Practice as Much as Possible — Like most physical endeavors, boxing is a sport made better by muscle memory. When you practice the same motions over and over again, they become cemented and perfected, so you’re able to move onto other aspects of the sport.
One of the simplest things you can do when it comes to practicing your punches is to invest in a punching bag for your home — you can always get a freestanding punching bag so that you don’t have to install anything on the walls or ceiling — so you don’t have to go to the gym every time you want to practice. Make sure that you’re practicing with real-life opponents if your ultimate goal is competition.
- Copy the Pros — While not all professionals should be used as examples for the right way to do things, there are definitely some situations where watching a couple of old fights on YouTube can help improve your game. After all, in sports, art and life in general, a big part of learning is mimicry. For example, take a gander at this video compilation of the best uppercut knockouts in history if you want some inspiration on how to up your uppercut game.
- Watch Yourself — Just as watching the professionals can do wonders for your form and delivery, so, too, can watching yourself. All of the best professional athletes and performers watch their matches back post-facto, and for good reason. You can study your strategy from a new angle every time, identifying weak points and complimenting your successes. If possible, have your coach or a friend record you throwing your best punches once a week so that you can see how you progress as you master new techniques.
- Don’t Ignore the Core — Of course, punching is about arm strength and agility, so you don’t want to skip the free weights or cardio. Interestingly, though, a big portion of your power and strength comes from your core when punching. Think of your core as the trunk of a tree that keeps you stable in your pose, allowing you to deliver stronger, steadier punches and to accept blows without wavering. Make sure that you implement core workouts into your regimen several times a week to help improve your stance.
- Get the Right Gloves — In boxing, it’s not just about what you know, but also what you wear, especially what you wear on your paws. It’s not uncommon for boxers to find that their punches are suffering only to discover that they’re wearing the completely wrong sized boxing gloves. Learn a little bit about how to size your gloves so that they don’t slip, slide or pinch while you’re punching. Gloves should be snug and comfortable so that you can focus entirely on putting up a good fight.
- Use Different Bags — Another thing to consider in the gear department is your punching bag. Besides the typical heavy bag — that’s the cylindrical one you’re probably most familiar with — there are boxing bags designed to help you perfect specific punches. For example, a speed bag is meant to help you increase the quickness of your rapid-fire punches, while there are specialty bags that are designed entirely for working on uppercuts. If you only have a heavy bag, you can learn different techniques to perfect various punches using a single bag.
Tying It All Together
Even though it seems like a relatively simple task, perfecting your punching technique requires you to think about several important things at once. But with practice, you’ll find that the fundamentals will come naturally and that your punches will be more powerful and targeted with every throw.