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The 77 Most Common Mistakes in Boxing – Part 1


MISTAKE 12 – Head Movement: Moving Too Much

Whenever you can get your opponent to miss their strike, it is a good thing.

However, the mistake that many people make is that they make their opponent miss by too much.

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Remember, Boxing is all about efficiency – minimal effort, maximum benefit.

If you move your head too much when you slip or when you duck, you’ll be open for his secondary attack. Then you’ve moved so much you’ll probably be off balance and out of position to move your head again.

Furthermore, you’ll be off balance or out of position to launch a counter attack. Even if you launch a counter attack, because of your off balanced position, it will not have sufficient power.

Finally, you will get tired faster. Moving your head across a large distance very rapidly is exceptionally exhausting.

A good boxer will make their opponent miss, but a great boxer will make their opponent just barely miss.

MISTAKE 13 – Head Movement: Moving Just Your Head and Not Your Hips

When people move their head to evade punches, a common flaw is that they’ll only move their head and not their hips.

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Sometime people will only move from their necks or they’ll keep their hips still and move their head by bending and shifting their spine.

I don’t recommend this.

Remember, it’s not just slip; it’s slip and hit.

It’s not just duck; it’s duck and hit.

You want to be able to simultaneously counter strike as you move your head to defend the shot.

Although it is unlikely you will throw a counter punch every time you move your head in defense, it’s the concept of always staying in a ready position that is important.

You always want to be in a position to strike.

The way to maintain a strong striking position as you move your head is to move your hips as well. Head goes one way, hips go the other way.

MISTAKE 14 – Parry: Moving the Hand Too Much

A parry is a defensive manoeuvre used to deflect or redirect a strike. You can parry using your hand, your forearm, your wrist, even your shoulder.

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When using your hand to execute the parry, the most common mistake is moving your hand too much.

Remember, fighting is all about efficiency. If I make him miss by a foot or by an inch, I’ve still made him miss.

The best way to look at parrying is to think of yourself like a pageant queen and you are waving at the crowd. All you are doing is slightly turning your hand, like you are screwing in a light bulb in a lamp on your living room ceiling.

This movement is the most efficient way to deflect the Jab or straight Right Hand.

Anything more may open you up for his secondary attacks or it may leave you vulnerable to his attempts to fake you out to draw your hand far away from your face.

MISTAKE 15 – Blocking: You Can Do It, but Only Once

Blocking is the least effective form of defense.

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First off, throwing your forearm out to meet force with force in order to stop it causes you to draw your hands away from your head and torso.

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And since you are trying to halt the attack by throwing your forearm into his forearm, there is a strong likelihood that you’ll bruise or injure yourself as you attempt the block.

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Now, blocking does work and it is natural to do (every person I’ve ever taught how to Box will block naturally; very few people move their head or adjust their distance without some coaching).

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Unfortunately though, it opens you up for fakes and combination attacks. Due to the distance you create between your hands and your head, you’ll never be able to get your hands back fast enough if he launches subsequent attacks to your face.

Blocks should only be done as a last resort and if there is nothing else you can do.

MISTAKE 16 – Jab: The Archer

When most people throw the Left Jab, they’ll pull their right hand back. Even the pros will do this.

I call this mistake, “The Archer”.

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You will absolutely get more power with your Jab if you pull your right hand back, but you will also open your face up for an easy counter attack.

Instead, keep your right hand up by your mouth to defend yourself against any counter attacks as you throw your Jab. By doing so you’ll become less susceptible to counter attacks.

MISTAKE 17 – Stance: Walking the Line

Draw a line that points to your opponent. A common mistake is that people will walk this line; meaning, they’ll place both feet on this line.

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This will make your stance too linear.

People feel they need to “walk the line” to defend themselves from straight punches.

Now, it’s true that you are more open to straight attacks if you stand too square to your training partner and you’ll be too open for the body shot, as well.

But, you’ll be off balance if you “walk the line” and you try to move your head from side to side as you slip punches.

And you’ll feel restricted in your movement as you launch a straight right – when you turn your hip, you’ll feel an impingement on your lead left knee and hip.

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Instead, straddle the line. Have one foot on one side of the line and one foot on the other side. You’ll have more balance and it will facilitate greater rotation for your punches.

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MISTAKE 18 – Stance: Heels Down

Many people box with their heels to the floor. Or when they move, they’ll move like they’re walking- heel, toe, heel, toe. This is a mistake.

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Try and keep at least one heel off the ground at all times. By keeping your heels off the ground you will be more agile and be able to change directions with your feet faster, easier and more abruptly.

MISTAKE 19 – Straight Right: Elbow Out and Up

Many people will bring their elbows up when they throw a straight right hand. This makes the punch easier to perceive by your opponent.

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As well, it’s easier to defend.

Keep your elbow in. Think of keeping your elbow in front of your belly button as you execute the punch.

A training partner can help keep your elbow in by holding a target up with his right hand while  his left hand up by your right elbow. You should be able to strike the target with your right hand without running your elbow into his left hand.

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It is natural to lift your elbow up as you throw the straight right. The straight right hand is very similar in movement to throwing a ball.

Almost everyone in the world has thrown a ball at some point in their lives, but few people have thrown a straight right hand properly.

Skill transference means taking a skill that you already possess and then relating it to a new unlearned skill that is similar.

So when executing a straight right, your brain will associate the movement with throwing a ball, thus bringing your elbow up and out. It’s a completely understandable mistake but one that is important to correct.

MISTAKE 20 – Straight Right: Whipping Your Head

Many people feel the need to whip their head forward and to the left as they throw a straight right hand.

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Doing this will pull your weight too far forward and throw you off balance, thus leaving you open to counter attacks and making it difficult for you to throw subsequent attacks.

Your accuracy will also be affected. Think of your straight right hand being a rifle. When you fire your straight right hand, you want your head still, just like you want your head still as you fire a rifle to maintain your aim.

Something almost guaranteed in Boxing is that your training partner will be moving his head. If your head is moving as well, then it’ll compound the problem. Imagine running with a rifle and trying to hit a moving target at the same time.

Keep your head still as you throw the right hand and your accuracy will improve, you’ll be able to defend counter attacks better and you’ll be in better position to follow up with additional punches once the straight right lands.

MISTAKE 21- Straight Right: Not Turning Both Shoulders

When throwing the straight right hand, many people only bring their right shoulder forward.

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This is a mistake. You need to also pull your left shoulder back.

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This movement is called the Anterior/Posterior Sling. The Anterior/Posterior Sling is
basically how the human body generates rotational force. One hand pulls back as the other hand drives forward.

Almost every sport or physical activity, from throwing a ball swinging a golf club, employs this principle.

You need to pull one shoulder back as you are driving the other shoulder forward.

Think of the steering wheel of a car. As one pulls down to turn the wheel, the other hand drives up.

To increase the power of your straight right hand, pull the left shoulder back as you drive the right shoulder forward. This is the reason so many fighters have such developed back muscles. (Look at pictures of Bruce Lee or photos of Roy Jones Jr.)

Many people think that Boxing is basically pushing and you need to only do pushing exercise to develop punching power.

The push from one shoulder is only one half of the power development. It is also the pulling force from the opposite shoulder. It is this opposition that creates powerful rotational forces.

MISTAKE 22 – Straight Right: Poor Heel Position

To facilitate rotation for the straight right hand you need to pick up your right heel.

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If you just leave your right heel on the floor, you will not be able to rotate very much.

The problem that many people have is that they pick up the right heel only a bit. You need to fully pick up your heel and turn it.

Turn your right knee so that it points to your left knee. Drive the toes of your right foot into the ground and twist like you are squashing a bug or putting out a cigarette.

MISTAKE 23 – Straight Right: Too Much Weight Transfer

A common mistake when throwing a straight right hand is to transfer your weight too far forward.

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This mistake is dangerous as you will be off balance.

When you execute the Straight Right you still want to be able to defend his counter attacks and you also want to be able to follow up with subsequent punches.

The proper weight transfer for the Straight Right hand is 10%. That’s it.

When you throw the Jab, you want to have a fully balanced weight transfer. 50% of your weight on one foot and 50% of your weight on the other foot.

When you execute the right hand, transfer 10% of your weight forward. You’ll now have 60% of your weight on the lead left foot and 40% of your weight on the rear right foot.

A 10% weight transfer forward will:

  1. Ensure sufficient power development for your Straight Right hand
  2.  Allow you to maintain a high degree of balance to deal with counter attacks
  3. Create the proper body positioning to effectively throw further attacks after carrying out the Right Hand.

MISTAKE 24 – Eyes: Staring at the Hands

Many people are often confused over where to look when they box. Some people say to look at the eyes. Some say look at the elbows. Most people will naturally look at their opponent’s hands.

You never want to look at the hands, the hands lie. He’ll distract you with one hand and hit you with the other..

You want to look at the chest.

Draw a line from the corner of his hip to the corner of his shoulder and do this on the opposite shoulder to the opposite hip. You’ll see an imaginary set of lines that make on X.

The lines will intersect in the middle of his chest right at the solar plexus, right were the rib cage meets.

Now, the secret is not to look directly at this point; but, about 2 inches in front of it. Doing so will make your opponent look fuzzy because you are seeing him with your peripheral vision.

Human beings have 2 types of vision:

  • Central Vision. (also called foveal vision) This is the type of vision you use when you read. Your vision is very narrow and focused.
  • Peripheral Vision. Your peripheral vision allows you to see areas just outside the center of your gaze. Peripheral vision is good at perceiving motion.

You want to use your peripheral vision when you fight. Your reaction time is much faster when employing peripheral vision. As well, you’ll be able to see everything: his hands, his feet, the environment.

As well, when you look at his chest you will naturally drop your chin. You won’t even have to think about this component of your form.

If you stare at his eyes, you can’t see his feet, if you are in close to mid range, even with your peripheral vision. His feet will often give you great telegraphs to use against him.

And if you’re also doing kicks, seeing his feet is obviously important.

Think about looking at his chest: if he has a crest or emblem on his shirt, you want to see that there is something on his shirt, but you don’t want to look so closely that you’re able to read what it says.

MISTAKE 25 – Straight Right: Telegraph

Virtually every single person I’ve ever taught how to box telegraphs their straight right hand right before they throw it.

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They’ll throw their straight left jab perfectly – straight out and straight back while keeping their right hand glued to their mouth guard.

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But when they throw a jab and straight right combo, they’ll pull their right hand back first like they’re loading it up, cocking it, pulling it back for extra power.

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Doing so only sends your opponent a signal that you’re going to throw the right and makes you easier to counter attack. Throw the right hand directly from where it is and it will be tougher for your training partner to perceive and thus counter attack.

MISTAKE 26 – Circular Retraction

Many people, when throwing straight punches, will retract their punches in a circular manner. This mistake only makes them susceptible to easy counter attacks.

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Straight punches go straight out and straight back. Do not throw your punches down like you are throwing a ball into the dirt.

MISTAKE 27 – Straight Right: Left Hand Position

When people throw a straight right hand, a common error is to pull the left hand back away from your face. You will get more power if you pull your left hand back as you throw a right hand.

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Look at how you throw a ball: you draw your left hand back to amplify the rotational speed of your shoulders and thus you are able to throw a ball further.

With boxing too, you want to maximize the rotation of your shoulders by pulling your left shoulder back as your right shoulder drives forward; however, you still want to keep your left hand up by your mouth guard ready to receive any counter attacks your opponent may throw at you.

MISTAKE 28 – Not Being Aware of the Counter

The greatest mistake that my students make as they start to spar is that they are not mindful of the fact that their training partner can counter attack them.

When people learn to throw punches with proper form on a heavy bag or with focus mitt drills, they feel successful because no one is throwing punches back at them.

When they start sparring, they feel frustrated because they can not put their punches together in seamless combination. The combinations are interrupted by the counter attacks executed by their training partners.

When my students start sparring I always start them off with counter punching drills.

Not only to show them how to turn defense into offense with counter punches, but to also make them “counter proof”; meaning, they are able to deal with the counter punches their training partners throw at them and then re-counter the attacks so they can stay on the offensive.

A lot of people just throw punches and combination punches without paying attention to the counter attack and therefore leave themselves open.

MISTAKE 29 – Always Stepping Forward With Their Punches

If you can hit him right where you are standing, then you don’t need to step in.

If you can’t hit him, then, step in.

People often neglect keeping their distance when they attack and they’ll always step in to punch no matter how far or how close they are.

There is a misconception that if you step in with the punch, the punch will be more powerful. While this is true, it doesn’t’ cancel out the fact that if you are already in the perfect range, and you’re still stepping in, then you’ll wind up stifling the power development for your punch.

Force is mass multiplied by acceleration. And acceleration is the change in velocity over a set period of time.

The greater the change in velocity will reflect a greater amount of acceleration and thus a greater amount of force.

Run as fast as you for 10 feet. Then for 30 feet. You’ll be running much faster at 30 feet than 10. The more distance you have, the more acceleration you’ll have.

And it’s the same thing with punching. The more distance you have for your strike, the more acceleration you’ll achieve and thus, the more force you’ll have for your strike.

MISTAKE 30 – Hooks: Elbows Too Low

The conventional way of executing a hook is to have your forearm parallel to the ground.
When you are executing the hook, at the moment of impact the elbow ought to be a the same level as the hand.

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A common mistake when throwing a hook is to keep your elbow too low. The elbow should – at least – be at the same height as your hand at the moment of impact.

Remember, most people will be hiding their chin behind their shoulder. To get to the chin with a hook, you’ll have to get up and over the shoulder; so, it may be necessary to pick your elbow up higher than your hand.

As well, you’ll save yourself from injury. If you keep your elbow lower than your hand, you’ll wind up throwing a hammer strike with the base of your hand. Not only could you hurt your wrist, but it will put strain on your shoulder as you are forcing it to turn in an unnatural way.

Finally, you will not have much power with your hook.

Seeing how force is generated by mass and acceleration, with the hammer strike, you are using only the mass of the hand to create the force for you hook.

If you lift the elbow, the mass will be of your hand and your forearm. This is significant because the forearm is made up of 2 big bones, the ulna and the radius.

Lift the elbow up higher than the level of your hand for the hook and your hook will be more powerful, more accurate, and it will save your shoulders.

MISTAKE 31 – Hooks: Not Covering Fully

When you cover up for hooks, it’s important to open your hands up and place your palms against your temples. If you make a fist, you will wind up getting your own knuckles pounded into your temples as your opponent hits you.

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As well, by opening up your hands, your fingers will make an extension to your shield. Your forearms are your shields when you fight.

MISTAKE 32- Hooks: No Weight Transfer

When most people throw hooks, especially left hooks, they do not transfer their weight.

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Weight transfer will enhance power development and aid in facilitating hip rotation – a necessary component in power generation for the hook.

The weight transfer is a mere 10% of your weight onto the opposite leg. If you are throwing a left hook, and presuming you are starting with a balanced stance where 50 % of our weight is on your left foot and 50% of your weight is on your right foot, lean 10% of your weight onto your right leg. So then, 40 % of your total weight is on your left foot and 60 % of your total weight is on your right foot.

MISTAKE 33- Hooks: Palm Down or Thumb Up

There is rampant confusion over whether to throw the hook with the fist in a thumb up position (if you were to take your fist as you execute the hook and open up your hand the thumb would point to the sky) or the palm down position (if you were to open up your fist at the moment of impact for the hook, your palm would face the floor).

The answer is that the tool should augment to fit the target. The mistake is for someone to throw a hook in a thumb up position always, regardless of the target or body positioning.

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If you have a clear opening to the jaw line of your opponent, use the palm down position for the fist. You will make contact on his jaw with as many knuckles of your fist as possible.

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On most men, the mandible, or lower jaw, sticks out farther than the upper jaw, the maxilla. If you have a thumb up position as you strike his jaw, you may break your pinkie finger knuckle or ring finger knuckle since it will only be one of these knuckles that will make first contact.

By using the palm down position, more of the force will be spread out amongst your knuckles, typically the last 3 knuckles- the pinkie, ring finger and middle finger knuckles – and you’ll save yourself a broken hand.

Now, if you have an opponent that is all covered up, you can still get inside if you throw your hook past his head and then rake in with a chopping hook behind his forearm nailing him directly on the ear or on the temple.

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This works best with a thumb up position. The fist is narrower and can slide in behind the forearm cover. If you have a palm down version of a fist with this attack you’ll probably still get in and be able to hit him, but it will be with the knuckle of your thumb or with the knuckle of your index finger. Punching in this manner will most likely cause you to break your hand.

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