5 deadly punching mistakes that can get you knocked out.
As a beginner, it can be difficult to remember the 50-point checklist of possible mistakes every second of the fight. Technique, strategy, breathing….OH, AND DON’T FORGET TO RELAX! All that is impossible to do when you’re worried about getting beat up.
For now, I’ll focus on some of the more critical ones that can leave you the most vulnerable. As long as you’re careful not to commit these in the ring, you’ll probably be alright (assuming you’re fighting someone of comparable ability).
Learn how to fix these mistakes (in yourself) or take advantage of them (in others):
1. Exposed Chin During the Jab
Many fighters will somehow expose their chin when throwing the jab. Some do it by lifting their chin during the jab. Some do it by leaning forward and pulling their head in with the jab. Some fighters don’t even have their other glove covering their face when they jab (probably because the other glove is preparing to punch). This is often the case for guys that turn their head sideways when they jab. Also a common scenario during southpaw-vs-orthodox match-ups.
EASY COUNTER – Land a counter jab or counter right cross. If he’s leaning in, try a left uppercut to snap his head up, and then knocked it off with a follow-up hook or right cross.
SELF DIAGNOSIS – How to check if you have this issue: have a trainer throw a hook every time you jab. You should be close enough to land your jab, but far enough that he can’t land his left hook.
2. Dropped right hand during left hook
This is one of the deadliest and most common mistakes. Even for professionals. I too, am guilty of this at times. Just about every boxer at some point in his career will drop his right hand when he throws his left hook. Most guys will cover their chin but hardly ever the forehead (it’s just not comfortable to do this). Other guys drop the right hand all the way down to their chest when they throw the left hook.
EASY COUNTER – The easiest way to take advantage of this mistake is to throw a left hook. This common mistake is the reason why many trainers say that the best counter for a left hook is a left hook. No need to be fancy by rolling under, just throw your own left hook and make sure your right hand is tighter than his. The left hook exchange has created many knockouts in boxing history.
SELF DIAGNOSIS – Throw punches at a bag, and during sparring. Have a friend watch you during a sparring match to see if you’re guilty of this!
3. Telegraphing the right hand
Many fighters have a terrible habit of moving their right hand from position before they throw a right. Some telegraph by lowering their right hand, others will pull back the right just before the punch.
EASY COUNTER – If you’re a sharpshooter, you can pop him with a jab. Jabbing him accurately in the face will stop his right hand before it gets released. The danger of countering with a jab is that he might throw an overhand right and you end up trading a jab for a right hand—not a very good exchange.
The better way to counter a telegraphed right hand, is with a left hook. You can throw a short hook on the inside. Throw it early and time it so that it hits him right as his right hand pulls back from his face to load the right. You can also throw it later to have it land after his right hand has already launched; mind you, this should be a wider hook if it’s going around or OVER his right hand/arm. If you pivot with your hook at the same time, you will land your hook while your head turns away from his right hand. Even if his head is covered by his glove or his shoulder, your left hook can still push him off balance.
SELF DIAGNOSIS – Record a video of yourself hitting the bag or sparring. You may be surprise at how far your right hand drops from position. This mistake can be shockingly apparent in sparring.
4. Exposed Body
This is a common and inevitable fact of punching. Your opponent’s body will be exposed if his arm is extended during a punch. He can tuck his chin behind his shoulder or lean his head out of the way but his body will be wide open if you can get to it.
EASY COUNTER – The only way to reach his body while he punches is to rely on slipping. Let your slipping protect your head from punches, as you use your hands to counter from the bottom. Slip under his jab and land a jab on bottom. Or slip outside his right hand as you land a left hook (or right cross) to his body. The big tip is to COUNTER WHEN YOU SLIP. By countering simultaneously as you slip, you can attack him right as the opening presents itself. If you defend first before you try to counter, you might miss the opportunity.
SELF DIAGNOSIS – It’s not really a mistake. but you can definitely be more aware of your body’s openings while you punch. When you work the mitts, have you trainer counter your jab with a right to the body, or counter your right hand with a left hook to the body. This will force your elbows to come down faster after throwing punches.
5. Lifted Balance
This is another common mistake committed by just about 90% of all beginner boxers in the gym. They lift their hips when they punch. It’s like a “jumping” elevation of the hips. The 2 reasons this problem is common are probably because 1) they believe it’s necessary to reach with a punch and 2) they believe it gives the punch more power.
It’s probably the incorrect attitude of believing that exploding upwards during a punch adds power. Which is wrong, but I’ll leave that explanation for another day…let’s work on taking advantage of this.
EASY COUNTER – There are several ways to take advantage of this mistake. One way is to ground yourself and counter at the same time. But right after your counter, use the same hand to push him off balance. For example, if your opponents is lifting his hips as he jabs: you throw a pushing jab, using your glove to push him back. Even if he blocks it, he will still fall back off balance…and vulnerable to your next punch. Remember to keep YOUR hips down.
Another thing you can do is slip or get out of the way entirely and watch him fall through his punch. Make him miss that first punch and then follow up immediately with a counter combo. Even if he lands his follow-up punches, he’ll be too off-balance to cause any real damage. It’s easy to win exchanges when your body is grounded and his is not.
SELF DIAGNOSIS – How to see if you have this vulnerability. Throw a jab and freeze…holding it out in the position that it lands. Have your trainer throw a left hook at your right hand (you’re blocking it). If you fall over, your hips are probably lifted (ORRRR, you have a bad stance). Now throw a right hand, and hold it out as you trainer tests your stance with a left hook. Again, if you’re falling over then you have a bad stance. Lastly, throw a jab to the body as you bend your knees a little and crouch down. Have your trainer throw a hook at your right glove. This one gets about 95% of the new boxers I test this with. (The trick, by the way…is to relax your hips and “drop” your weight when you punch. It’s the only way to stand properly grounded during a punch.) It’s more about RELEASING your hips rather than LOWERING your hips, which is a totally different thing.
What makes something a “MISTAKE”?
I don’t think it’s so much that a mistake is when you do something the wrong way (“bad technique”). Or that everything always has to be done the same way each time. It would be impossible to adapt to situations if you were to throw the same punch the same way every single time. If anything, these “perfect” techniques could make you predictable and enable smarter opponents to take advantage of you.
A mistake is something you’re not aware of.
I like to define a “mistake” as something you’re not doing intentionally. For example if I exposed myself somewhere without knowing it, that would be a mistake. And one that could be exploited by an opponent at my own expense. But suppose I exposed myself somewhere INTENTIONALLY, then it becomes a bait, and then it becomes a strategic ploy inviting my opponent to fall into my trap, at which moment, I would have a counter prepared for his attack.
You may have wondered in the past why it seems that some professional fighters make so many “mistakes”. The truth is…they might not be mistakes after all.
The “mistakes” that pros make
may actually be strategic gambles.
even if professionals do make “mistakes,” they are a lot of times ready to prepare for the counter instinctively anyways. So it’s like they have a system of baits built into their style.
Thanks! I probably do at least 3 from the above list, will start a full-scale diagnosis program already today! 🙂
Very nice article Johnny really outlined some of the mistakes that i see one a lot by beginners. This article also helped me improve some of my own flaws especially the last one. Johnny please could you tell me if you wouldn’t minde what you think of this gym as I am currently stuck between 2 gyms one which does not have a website but boasts a good amateur record and the other a pro boxing gym which does have a website http://www.onenationabc.co.uk/ . Please can you tell me what you think of this gym. Thank you sir much obliged 😀
I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything without having been there myself. If you’re serious about finding the best gym for you, you have to try them all and seeing what you like best. In some cases, the more serious fighters will go to multiple gyms because each one is good at something else.
Thank you very much for your reply sir. Keep up the good work as you have created the best boxing site on the internet. Keep up the great work 😀
i agree compeletely it is not good always to go the same gym
Im just learning boxing from my dad im only ten but still working thanks for the tips
Thanks for the article its a real eye opener! My question however is one that’s unrelated and more to do with the conditioning side of things. I want to get your opinion on the most valuable forms of training, the problem I have is trying to cram everything in whether it be boxing training, core work, endurance work, interval training, tabata, strength work and the list goes on. I recently discovered that after a month of training every day with no rest days is an easy way to burn out and compromise your performance in the ring so I’m trying to work out the most worthwhile conditioning exercises to fit around my days of boxing training. At the moment I am boxing with a group on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and have a 1 to 1 session with my trainer on Saturdays. What I need to know is what would be the best kind of conditioning to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I can have a rest day on Sundays?
There’s no easy answer for that. It takes time to figure out the best exercise routine for your body. You can start with my EASY Boxing Workout.
It is very nice article.. Which would be more helpful for beginners trainees and their trainers also.. Some of beginner also have problem to maintain their body balance, most of them kept their body weight on leading foot and during throw punches they shuffle rear foot…
Would you recommend a taller fighter throwing a rear overhand punch vs a shorter fighter? Also, what are some good combinations for a southpaw that include the overhand punch?
If your a southpaw and your opponent tried to confuse you by switching to southpaw too I love to throw a huge overhand left with good power as soon as they switch even if it dosent land it scares the shit out of them and they will switch back to orthodox I guarantee it, when they do stand southpaw too it’s more likely to land over their guard, try it for yourself
Anybody can and should try throwing everything. You never know what might work. Of course, you have to do it intelligently and with some strategy…you can’t just be throwing it and leaving yourself open. Good combinations for southpaw? Any combo with a left cross, you can try substituting with the overhand left.
Johnny I know your not a doctor but wondered if you or anyone else for that matter could give some advice, I have a fight in 3 weeks time and have become ill for the 3rd time in the space of about 2 months. Its winter here in the UK and rife with colds, flu and viruses what I cant understand however is that im someone who does not normally become ill and at the moment im healthier than I have ever been in my life, im training hard, my diet is healthier than it has ever been in my whole life and yet im becoming ill, the question is what do I do about my fight in 3 weeks time? Pulling out is out of the question but I worry that im loosing valuable training time this close to the event and subsequently this is effecting me mentally as well. Do I rest and wait for recovery and then get back into training in the hope ill be better or do I just push through it? could this make it work? if im better what can I do get back to peak performance and fitness quickly?
Hey man know I’m not Johnny but I can tell you from expeiernce it’s always better let your body to heal up before a match , props for not wanting to back out. My advice is to later up in a sauna suit and or lots of sweaters for at least half hour to an hour at a time before cooking down for three days without training. Drink bucket loads of green tea to, after 3-4 days of this you should help
Thanks man, appreciate it
I have no idea, my friend. That’s your call to make.
No problem best of luck come fight day
Hey johny have u ever been k.o.ed by anyone? Just curious
No. Hahaha. Thank goodness!
What can you recommend for short boxers about their style.i dont know how to deffend from jabs, i would apreciate if some one could explain deffending techniques from the jabs. Thank you
my advice to mt…… weave a lot…… refer johnys article on weaving and bobbing
My advice: try mastering the mistakes above such that they’re actually baits and not mistakes.
I had undergone boxing training under an amateur box
er two years ago and then I got a 9 to 7 job which keeps me very busy…….. I want to ask whether It is okay for me to compete without a trainer in amateur bouts….
What makes a good amatuer fighter?
Good athleticism, good skills, hard work, courage. If you wanted to narrow it down some more. Endurance, speed, good jab, reach helps. Power helps for the bigger guys, as well.
what benefit would i get after learning this matial art ?.And if i am perfect,what competition would i attend?
Problem the same benefits after learning any martial art? Having fun, making friends, getting in shape, spiritual growth, learning a useful skill (of how to kick ass). There are many amateur boxing competitions around.