Most fighters are not throwing the uppercut from the right position.
- Their body isn’t angled correctly.
- Their opponent’s body is not vulnerable to the uppercut.
- And by no surprise…their uppercuts never land or do any damage.
If you find it hard to land uppercuts, there’s a very good chance you’re not throwing it from the right place. You may be surprised to know that the uppercut is not only the most improperly thrown punch in boxing, it’s also the most improperly SET UP punch in boxing.
Here are 3 simple adjustments to make landing uppercuts TEN times easier!
When do you throw the uppercut?
When I first started boxing, uppercuts were one of those cool punches you practiced on the mitts all the time but rarely ever threw in the ring. Sure, it worked against guys that were at my skill level or lower but it never worked against guys of equal skill or higher skill than me.
The way I fought in the ring was logical:
- Throw straight punches because they have better reach and don’t put you so much in harms way.
- Throw hooks when you’re in mid-range and your opponent is guarded up the middle.
- Keep a distance and don’t stay in your opponent’s range too much.
So what about uppercuts? When do those happen?
- Should you throw an uppercut under or around your opponent’s arms? What if you hit his elbow? OUCH!
- But if your opponent is open at the center…why not throw a straight punch to the open spot instead of an uppercut?
- Are uppercuts better for the head or the body?
- Are uppercuts supposed to be used when my opponent is shorter and ducking in? Or when he’s taller and on top of me?
- What if he comes over the top with a counter to my head when I drop my hands for the uppercut?
Without knowing the right time and place to throw uppercuts, I kind of just threw them out randomly. Sometimes to be flashy, other times because it seemed like my opponent was open for one. And this is when it becomes a problem…the moment you only throw uppercuts when you see an opening. Because NOBODY ever walks around with an open hole for your uppercut.
It wasn’t a long time later when I learned how to time uppercuts to land as counters and also how to use the uppercut, even a BLOCKED uppercut, to cause damage and set up my other punches. I also learned many different variations and different ways to throw the uppercut. But the biggest tip was learning the right body position for the uppercut. This alone made it a million times easier to notice opportunities for the uppercut.
Knowing the right body position for the uppercut
makes it much easier to see an opportunity to land one.
Tips for Landing the Uppercut
Uppercut Strategy #1 – Get on TOP of your opponent
Try to have your head higher than his.
THE FIRST RULE – get on top of your opponent! Either your head is higher or his head is lower. The reason why is because uppercuts are best aimed at a target that is at YOUR head level or lower. The uppercut has more leverage, more power and is harder to detect when the punch doesn’t go higher than your shoulder level.
Uppercuts aimed at targets ABOVE your head are less effective.
- It’s harder to see and aim at targets above your head.
- There’s less power and leverage in this uppercut. It may also feel a bit awkward.
- If anything, you could have thrown a straight punch at your opponent and it would have came from the same low angle as an uppercut.
Here’s a good uppercut aimed below the head level.
- This lower uppercut will be so much more powerful, and so much easier to throw.
- Also, when the opponent is below you, you can throw freely without having to cover your head. Because your opponent is the one stuck down there defending against YOUR uppercuts…and he can’t throw above his head to hit yours.
Uppercuts aimed at your shoulder level or below
have more leverage and power.
Lean away from your opponent.
- Lean away from your opponent slightly to set up your uppercuts. (But don’t lean too much that you come off balance.)
- Leaning away helps you aim at higher targets (such as taller opponents).
- When leaning away, only lean away with your upper body and not the lower body. More balance and power this way.
- When leaning back, also try to tilt your weight towards the same leg as the punching arm. You get much more power this way.
- Avoid leaning forward, to avoid getting hit by uppercuts.
When you think about it, the guy leaning away holds the advantage of “being on top”. Because when you lean away, it’s like your upper body is facing a little more upwards at the sky instead of straight across at the opponent…so now a target that is right in front of you becomes “below you”. It’s simply a trick of re-positioning your upper body to get the perfect “uppercut angle” against higher targets. This is a similar idea as to why shorter boxers will lean back when using the shoulder roll against taller fighters.
If you can…try to lean back only from your upper body, not your lower body. Keeping your weight evenly distributed across both feet gives you more balance and power. And again…make only a slight lean, don’t lean back any more than you need. And it’s perfectly ok if you don’t need to lean at all. And if you lean away while your opponent is leaning forward at the same, HIS upper body will be facing downwards while yours faces up and you’ll get the feeling that he’s really below you. Almost like he’s the same height of your hip. This is the PERFECT POSITION for you to land YOUR uppercuts! Because his body is hanging over and giving you a huge target to arc your uppercuts under.
And if you’re leaning back, then there’s nothing for him to throw uppercuts at because no part of your body is hanging over to be hit. (Also remember: it’s harder for him to even throw his uppercuts because uppercuts aimed at targets above the head have less leverage…AND he might not be able to see above his head.)
Of course, it goes without saying that leaning forward is probably the WORST WAY to set up your own uppercuts. Sure it can work if you’re both fighting on the inside and both of you are leaning forward. Your uppercuts won’t do as much damage as when your body is straight or leaning back a little. But you’re in trouble and you’re the one leaning forward and suddenly he leans back. In this case, it’s going to be YOU that eats the uppercut.
Getting on top of your opponents,
increases leverage on your uppercuts
while also protecting you from uppercuts.
Look at Mike Tyson’s uppercut.
Mike Tyson is very short heavyweight and yet even he manages to get on top of his opponents. Look at how quick and deadly his uppercuts are when his opponents are helplessly positioned below him.
Notice how Tyson’s head is ABOVE his opponents when he throws the uppercut.
Here you can see Mike Tyson leaning back and towards the SAME FOOT as the punching arm. It may appear like he’s leaning forward but in reality, he’s leaning BACK as he throws the uppercut.
2. SHORT Uppercut vs LONG Uppercuts
If you’re in close range:
- Make space for your arm and fire. A little tilt to one side and BOOM!
- You can throw harder uppercuts at close range.
- Fire the uppercut even if he’s blocking. The power can penetrate through the gloves.
- Visualize a compact loop or a penetrating DIG.
You should be firing away at close range. No need to aim or get fancy, just put it out there. And if he’s got his hands up high, you can still punch right through the gloves. A great tip would be to aim at the hand part of the glove or even the wrist as this shoves his own hand into his face.
If you’re at long range:
- Go for a longer straighter uppercut.
- Focus on speed and snap.
- Aim at an open spot or time it so that your uppercut lands right as he’s punching.
Don’t visualize so much of a looping motion with the arm. Instead, try to think of it as a straight punch but with an upside-down fist. Don’t worry so much that the uppercut has to come from down under. Be sharp!
CLOSE RANGE – dig or snap the uppercut.
LONG RANGE – snap the uppercut.
3. Let Him Come to You
Don’t force the uppercut.
- Let him come to you.
- Let him lean into you.
- Your uppercut does more damage when he’s leaning forward or coming forward.
Instead of chasing for the uppercut, let the opportunity come to you. Sure you can be aggressive and try to set it up but it’s easier to let the fight happen and whenever you see him leaning forward, you launch that uppercut. The more aggressive he is, the easier it is for you to land that uppercut.
Let the uppercut opportunity come to you.
Read my other boxing guides on uppercut techniques: