side view man training boxing competition

Defensive Tips For Boxing

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    At first glance, boxing may seem very simple, and you throw punches at each other. Then, finally, one guy gets knocked out, and the fight is over. It’s easy to reduce boxing to nothing but a mindless brawl.

    But the art of pugilism is more intricate than that. It’s a layered martial art with a lot of technical details.

    The first things you learn are boxing’s offensive techniques, and there are a lot of them.

    This is understandable, as boxing is primarily an offense-oriented martial art. But once you reach the advanced stages of training, you begin to peel away its many layers. You then realise how important defensive plays in the ‘Sweet Science.’

    As with any sport, it isn’t offence alone that wins the game of boxing. This is because unless you hopelessly overmatch your opponent (and who wants to win that way?), you will need to ward off or minimalise the impact of your opponent’s punches.

    Therefore, along with everything else you need to work on in becoming a good fighter (legwork, conditioning, punching, etc.), you also need to incorporate correct defensive fundamentals—especially when you are new and better able to formulate good lifelong habits. This is important since learning proper technique in the first place is far easier than replacing poor technique down the road.

    The best way to improve your defensive techniques is with defensive drills, which incorporate punch blocking and evasive footwork. But, of course, being an effective boxer isn’t all about how hard you can hit, nor is it about possessing a chin made of granite. Sure, having either of those attributes will help, but realistically, a good defence is of equal if not greater importance.

    There are several factors required to make up a good defence, but ultimately you will need to decide what works best for you regarding your size and skill set.

    Ways To Improve Your Boxing Defense Techniques

    We get it; as a boxer, you like the adrenaline rushing through your veins every time you throw a punch at your opponent or your special combo move. It’s the wish of every boxer to initiate the attack on the opponent.

    The secret of becoming a great boxer doesn’t lay in merely trying to knock out your opponent, but defending yourself and developing exceptional defending skills are equally important. Defence in boxing is one of its most difficult aspects to master.

    It takes a lot of attention and focuses on working on defence in boxing. But, ultimately, the objective of boxing is to hit and not get hit. That’s the core philosophy of pugilism.

    Most of the world-famous Boxers are forced to be more defensive by their coaches; they will always yell at them for keeping their hands in front of their face and not get carried away by the emotions of anger but fight intelligently. 

    Let’s have a look at how you can improve your boxing defence techniques:

    Keep your guard up

    The very first thing you learn on defence is keeping your guard up. This is essential. The classic glove guard makes sure you are defending yourself at all times. The glove guard is the first line of defence from an opponent’s attacks.

    The natural position of your gloves should be just above the cheekbones, enough to provide good coverage of sensitive areas like the chin and the jaw, but not so much that it impedes your vision or field of view.

    Elbows should be kept tight to the body and not protruding outward. The fists need to be loose to focus on reactive parrying and blocking but stable enough to maintain stability and balance.

    Expect your opponents to throw a wide variety of punches from all angles.

    Your glove guard should make it difficult for any foe to connect on your face or head. At the same time, your hands should be free enough to move quickly to defend other parts of your upper body.

    The forearms can also catch punches, while the elbows defend the ribs and kidneys.

    The best place to train the glove guard is, of course, in the heat of sparring. So practice with a sparring partner until blocking and parrying punches become second nature.

    Keeping Your Eye on the Opponent

    Developing the technique of where to look during a fight can make a big difference in your fighting abilities. Beginners have a habit of looking at the shoulders of the opponent, as it gives an idea when they are about to throw a punch.

    However, some fighters look at their feet and interpret their next move.

    The best answer to all these problems is that you should always look at the opponent but don’t pay attention to any specific body part. In other words, we can say that they never try to find what will be their next move.

    This could also be explained with the help of a simple example: when you cross a road, you look for the cars on the other side, but you never really focus on them. That’s how you should be looking at your opponent.

    Don’t cover your eyes when covering your face during an attack. Keep the hands in front of your face, but your eyes should be on the opponent.

    It also shows your confidence that you are committed to punching, and you can throw a punch anytime.

    This helps you easily see a hole in your opponent’s defence for throwing a counter punch.

    Move your head

    Having a good glove guard isn’t enough. The other side of the equation is good head movement. Head movement will allow you to slip and duck punches, making you a slippery target.

    Head movement is essential to a good defence at the elite levels of the sport. When your opponent is attacking relentlessly with combination punching, the good head movement can take you out of harm’s way within mere inches.

    Some of the greatest defensive fighters in history have shown incredible head movement, legends like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr., James Toney, and Naseem Hamed.

    The main objective of moving your head is to offer your opponents a moving target they think they can hit.

    Constant and erratic head movement makes you unpredictable and, at the same time, keeps offensive-minded opponents preoccupied with trying to land clean. This also opens up opportunities to counter.

    close up boxer bandaging hands (1)

    Head movement is one of the most important aspects of boxing defence and is worth developing. Practice your head movement while you shadowbox, on the mitts, or in sparring. Moving your head needs to become an involuntary movement.

    Blocking Punches

    There are different blocking punches, such as hook, uppercut, and crosses.

    Using the Fist

    You can use your fist to block punches like jabs, uppercuts, and straight punches. This is the most common and simple tactic to stop a punch. As you see that your opponent will strike you, lean your fist in the direction of punch using force, also use your feet to add more force to your motion.

    This technique helps prevent the force of your opponent’s punch from driving you back and lessens the impact of the punch.

    Using the Shoulder 

    Shoulders can be used to prevent hooks.

    Getting a hook on your shoulder is somehow less harmful than receiving it on your headgear. If your opponent is throwing a right hook, lift your left arm vertically, and the upper body should be facing the opponent.

    This way, you can stop a hook from landing on your head.

    Using the Elbow 

    Elbows can be an effective blocker for side punches, hits on the body, and strikes on the head. Keep your hands close to your chin and elbows tucked in with the core to block side punches.

    In this way, you can prevent punches to hit your core and ribs. If the opponent is trying to strike punches on your head, place your hands over the years, covering your head with the elbows.

    Blocking Crosses

    The crosses to your head can be blocked by moving your body, bending down a little and getting back from the opponent. You can also throw a counter cross on the opponent’s ribs.

    To block crosses coming to your body, you can tuck in your elbows by keeping the fists near your ears; the crosses will hit your elbows and forearms without impacting the ribs and core. 

    Blocking Uppercuts 

    For blocking uppercuts, you can use two techniques either by moving your body and rotating hips so that the uppercut deflect and pass just by slightly hitting your arm.

    The second one is to block it by using your elbows the same way you use it to block a throw on your head. 

    Let your feet take you to where you need to go

    The third ingredient for a good boxing defence is solid footwork. Boxing can be misconstrued as a primarily upper-body activity when, in fact, focusing on footwork is essential to success in the ring.

    Footwork is often overlooked in boxing for many different reasons, especially for beginners. But developing your footwork early in training makes it much easier to enhance your movement in the later stages.

    Footwork allows you to move in and out and around your opponent to either evade oncoming attacks or put yourself in an optimal position to deliver your combinations.

    Good footwork involves being able to swiftly close distance and create distance simultaneously. It involves sidestepping, lateral movement, and pivoting. The objective is to keep the feet loose enough so that movement isn’t constricted but free.

    It means being light enough on your toes to get to where your feet want to take you, but also being sturdy enough to absorb blows without tipping over.

    This kind of solid base and footwork requires lots of practice to master. But put enough focus on it, and it will do wonders for your game.

    Maintaining a Good Form

    Having a proper boxing stance is the basic principle in becoming a great boxer over time and improving your boxing defence techniques. A good stance brings a boxer balance, stability, and readiness.

    Having a good boxing stance demands time and regular training. A good stance ensures confidence puts pressure on your opponent.

    If you don’t have good form while boxing, your opponent will take advantage of this, and you won’t block their punches. It’s important to stand in a position where you can move in any direction easily.

    Your feet should be apart, and at a comfortable width, it is recommended to keep your feet a little farther than the shoulder width and keep the heel of your back feet up.

    Keep the knees slightly bent so that the joints are not locked as it can result in injury, but not crouched too far down. Your height is a plus point for you. You can stretch out while throwing punches.

    Always keep your core tight by flexing the abdominal muscles. It helps in maintaining strength in the whole upper body. This generates more force and firmness in muscles.

    Pay attention to distance and timing

    Mastering distance in boxing is somewhat of a secret weapon because very few fighters can truly grasp the different fighting ranges. It’s essential on both offence and defence. At the same time, pinning down the timing required to launch attacks from different ranges successfully is equally as important.

    When you understand distance, you know exactly how far out of range you are to realise when there’s a threat of attack. Conversely, you know the exact level of explosion required to put yourself in the best position to attack.

    The timing works hand-in-hand with understanding distance because you need timing to determine when to move in to close distance or move away to escape an opponent’s offence.

    Distance and timing can only be honed through constant sparring. It’s about acclimating yourself to the unique ebb and flow of a fight until your body understands it completely. The more hours you spar, the better you are at gauging distance and timing.

    Boxing Drills

    Boxing drills help you in developing reflex actions for defence. Repetitive attacks on a particular body region will automatically develop a reflex of stopping the attack. It’s the same as when we touch a hot cup of tea and suddenly pull back the hand.

    Boxing drills help you in developing impulsive actions to defend yourself. 

    The best and oldest boxing drill for improving your defence is the rope slip drill. It is a great way to improve head movement; good head movement is crucial in boxing because the opponent will always try to hit your head.

    This drill is performed inside the ring. The rope should be at the height of your shoulder so you can practice bobbing and weaving effectively.

    Stand in front of the rope, and it should be touching your shoulder slightly, then bob and weave your head under the rope towards the other side. Don’t forget to maintain a constant movement as you perform this drill. 

    Always Remember The Basics

    Rather than aiming at being a jack of all trades and a master of none, it may be wise to pick one that works well for you and practice it until they become second nature.

    When you have found a guard you like, consider picking a secondary one to fall back on and practice both when you shadow box.

    Be sure to incorporate your evasive maneuvers into your drills, doing them in mid-combo.

    If being a defensive boxer is your goal, make sure you don’t neglect the basics, such as feints, footwork, and counters.

    Also, don’t forget to feel out your opponent and see what they are attacking you before you commit to a strategy, and be ready to adapt and change if things aren’t going your way.

    A good defence used correctly will save you from taking unnecessary damage and make your opponent look like an amateur.

    Counter Offense

    Using the attack of the component against them is the best form of defence.

    To develop the techniques of counter offence, a lot of experience and skills are required. It builds aggression in front of your opponent, which is very useful in putting pressure on the opponent during sparring, 

    Counterattacks cause more damage to the opponent, and it is also more energy-efficient as you incorporate defence and attack in the same movement.

    However, it’s difficult for the opponent to block counter offence because they are only focusing on attacking, so it’s difficult to maintain a good defence at the moment. 

    How Can I Practice Defense In Boxing By Myself?

    boxer punching self defence strong athlete beat concept

    The best way to practice defensive boxing techniques is with a partner, but you can practice self-defence on a punching bag or shadowboxing. Since effective defensive boxing moves develop largely from muscle memory, going through some of these patterns on your own can help you find your rhythm as you move.

    Boxing defence can make or break a professional fight.

    An integral part of defensive training is learning to block each incoming punch. Defensive blocking drills are an important aspect of boxing training, and it’s ideal to have a partner when practising punches.

    Remember to start slow and use minimal impact force as you’re learning – the speed will come!

    It’s About Not Being Hit Hard—Or at All

    With defensive boxing, your goal is to be as elusive and hard to hit as possible and deflect and minimalise the punches that do land. This can be done through quickness, agility, constant movement, and proper technique.

    Remember, being hit is part of the game and will happen no matter what. The only way you would likely ever make it through a fight without being hit would be for you to greatly overmatch your rival—and again, who would want that? You’re here for the sport, not to be a bully!

    So, since it is virtually inevitable that you will take punches during your bouts, you need to incorporate the next best thing to dodging punches completely, which is to minimise the energy you absorb from them.

    Boxing defence terms

    • Bob and Weave. The body movement of rolling from side to side as a defence against punches.
    • Check Hook. The counterpunch is aimed at catching an aggressive fighter who’s going forward.
    • Clinch. The act of grabbing or holding someone off to slow the action or to prevent exchange. Many great fighters have successfully used the clinch throughout their careers, such as Floyd Mayweather.
    • Boxing styles. Fighters are generally classified according to four different boxing styles. There are four types: swarmer, out-boxer, slugger, and boxer-puncher. Many boxers do not fall into these categories, and fighters can change their styles throughout their careers.
    • Boxing stance. The most important among basic boxing techniques. A boxing stance describes how you position your feet and body, whereas a guard describes how your hands are held.
    • Duck. Lower your weight and get under a punch to avoid getting hit.
    • Faint. A fake punch causes an opponent to react unnecessarily or gauge his reactions to be thrown off or make a mistake.
    • Mouth Guard. Made of rubber, this protective boxing equipment fits over a fighter’s teeth, gums, and jawline to protect from injuries.
    • Parry. When you don’t just block an incoming punch, but re-direct it.
    • Pull. To avoid being hit, fighters lean away from or pull back from an attack—Muhammad Ali’s famous defensive maneuver.
    • Slipping. Boxing slip means avoiding being hit by moving your head.
    • Sparring Partner. The term refers to a fighter who practices against another boxer to prepare for a “real” fight.
    • Shoulder roll. An incoming punch is deflected with a shoulder roll in boxing. A fast incoming strike can be difficult to block completely with your arms and hands. Therefore, some boxers use shoulder movements to minimise the force of an attacker’s blow.
    • Pivot. As the back foot swings in a half-circle, the front feet (left if orthodox or right if southpaw) remain stationary and serve as pivots. Depending on the situation, you can pivot either defensively or offensively. Pivots were used by great fighters such as Vasyl Lomachenko and Mike Tyson to switch from defence to attack smoothly.

    Defence Wins the Game

    In the words of the great Floyd Mayweather Jr, “He can have heart, he can hit harder and be stronger, but there’s no fighter smarter than me.” This speaks to the essence of why defensive skills are so important: Brawn does little against a superior defensive strategy.

    No matter how strong a fighter’s punch may be, it is only as strong as the ability to land it, which is something good defence sets up. 


    Defence holds an integral part in knocking out your opponent and becoming a good boxer over time. You can’t ever become a successful boxer without proper boxing defence techniques because the opponent might take your weak defence as an advantage.

    As a boxer, you should learn to fight using strategies and not be carried away by emotions because fighting with emotions leads to anger, leading to weakness in defence.

    Developing compulsive actions in boxing is also very important because it’s difficult for your mind to process what tactic to use to block a particular attack; at that moment, only your reflexes can save you.


    How To Get Better At Defense In Boxing?

    Often overlooked by amateur boxers, defence is a key to staying in the ring and winning matches. Developing defence involves learning foot, hand, and chin position. In addition, you can learn dodges like the slip and bob and weave. The defence also requires you to use blocks like the parry and the double arm block.

    How Important Is Defence In Boxing?

    Defence is one of the most important aspects of boxing. It keeps fighters out of danger when the going gets rough in the ring. As a result, most boxers with great defence have better longevity in their careers. But, of course, the game’s name is to hit and not get hit.

    Does Boxing Improve Self-Defense?

    Also known as “the sweet science”, boxing has been refined and perfected for thousands of years. It utilises head movements, footwork, and punches to form a very efficient striking system. This system is also widely considered one of the most effective self-defence methods.

    What Is The Best Defence In Boxing?

    Countering. Yes, offence (or counter-offence) is the best defence. See if you can evade your opponent’s punch by landing one of your own.

    Is Defense More Important In Boxing?

    Both have the same value in boxing. You can’t succeed in boxing until you are not perfect in defence and offence. Some boxing specialists say that attaching is the best defence, but the defence also has value. Boxing is a scoring game more you throw punches more you close to winning.

    1. Find a gym. Boxing gyms aren't typically found in the yellow pages, but there are resources on the internet that can lead you in the right direction. ...
    2. Be sure the gym is within striking distance. ...
    3. Be open-minded. ...
    4. Choose your coach carefully. ...
    5. Do judge the gym by its cover.

    So, can boxing be self-taught? Boxing can be self-taught but it's not the quickest and most effective way to become better at the sport because you aren't able to tap into the knowledge of a boxing coach who would be able to help you one to one.

    Best Age to Start

    Specialists in sports medicine believe that boxing classes are better to start from 9-10 years. Starting too early could result in putting the student off, as boxing is hard work and not always as fun as team sports, such as football or rugby.

    Shopping Cart
    Scroll to Top