Head movement is a big part of boxing, on both the offensive and defensive end. It gives your opponents a moving target that’s hard to hit clean, which means you have added protection from any potentially debilitating head shots. It also keeps your movement erratic and hard to predict.
Without good head movement, you’re susceptible to taking hard shots in the most critical area of your body. That alone makes head movement one of the most important aspects to train.
There are many head movement techniques you should hone as a fighter — bobbing and weaving, ducking and pulling, and rolling, to name a few. One of the most important moves, and also among the basics, is slipping punches.
Being able to move your head just inches out of the way of an incoming punch a split second before impact, is both a learned skill and a thing of beauty. Knowing how to slip punches and actually training this ability is essential to your development as a fighter.
If you want to know how to slip punches, we’re here to show you the fundamentals, teach you how to practice this in training, and give you a few tips to improve your overall head movement along the way.
Today, Evolve Daily shares how to slip punches in boxing.
1) Slipping Punches
As previously stated, slipping punches is the art of moving your head slightly to the side, just enough that an incoming punch misses its target by at least an inch, just before it was set to make an impact. This allows you to evade that attack and possibly even launch your own counterattack in rapid succession.
To be able to slip a punch successfully, you need to have the ability to anticipate the punch as it comes. This means watching out for visible cues and patterns your opponent may offer you to signal an oncoming attack.
For example, your opponent may move his feet before throwing a jab, which is common. This is your cue to slip his jab and evade the punch. Or perhaps, he cocks his right elbow to load up on a cross before he throws it. That’s another cue that the punch is coming, and it’s time to move your head. This all happens very quickly, so quick head movement is also necessary.
Countering off a slipped punch
As mentioned earlier, successfully slipping a punch opens up counterpunching opportunities. When an opponent misses with a punch, it leaves him vulnerable for a brief moment. This is your chance to come back with a quick and powerful counter.
Natural counters work best in these situations. For example, slipping a punch to the left pulls your momentum to the left side, giving you leverage to come back over the top with a short and compact left hook. On the other hand, slipping to the right sets up a counter right cross.
Furthermore, you can execute a counter as you slip a punch, simultaneous to an opponent’s attack. It’s a punch that’s devastating and one that your opponent won’t see coming.
As with everything in boxing, practice makes perfect, so make sure you take advantage of the different tools and drills afforded to you in the gym to practice slipping punches.
2) Practice Makes Perfect
There are many facilities, equipment, and drills you can use to practice slipping punches. Utilise them to improve your head movement and become a punch slipping machine.
The double-ended bag offers traditional head movement training. Punch the bag with force, hard enough that it springs back vigorously and erratically, and use the bag to practice slipping punches. Envision the bag as an opponent’s punches, and move your head from side to side. Punch the bag again and repeat the drill.
Shadowboxing is another great way to hone technique, especially when it comes to slipping punches. Shadowbox in front of a mirror and watch how you move your head. Clean up your technique and make your movements tighter. The faster and more graceful you can move your head, the better you become at slipping punches.
Working with a partner or a coach on the focus mitts is also recommended to train head movement. Instead of just focusing on punch combinations, using the focus mitts to practice slipping punches is a must. Communicate to your training partner or your coach that you want to get better at slipping punches, and they will help you.
As always, to get better at anything in boxing, repetition is key. Keep practicing, doing the same sort of movements constantly, and it gets baked into your muscle memory. Soon, slipping punches will become second nature.
Last but not least, to get better at slipping punches you have to put it into real-world application. There’s no better way to do that than boxing sparring. Sparring lets you get accustomed to the real ebb and flow of fighting without actually having to fight.
Of course, sparring involves practicing both offence and defence. But to train head movement and punch slipping more effectively, consider exclusively defending during sparring sessions.
Communicate with your sparring partner that you want to specifically train head movement, and have him go on the offensive with a variety of attacks while you lay back and try to evade them. This will help you practice slipping punches in the actual heat of battle.
Sparring is the only way you will be able to incorporate slipping punches into your defensive repertoire, so spar well and spar often.