Many people are under the misconception that if they can fling their arm at something they know how to throw a punch. Often in fitness gyms I see a personal trainer holding pads for someone that honestly doesn’t follow any of these 4 criteria. That is why I call these 4 Principles “Secrets ’’ because to those trainers and their clients they are. Knowing these principles will not only ensure you hit harder and get a better workout, but also will ensure you don’t get injured.
This may at first seem like an obvious point, but throw my years of working with clients I can say it is something many people struggle with. On straight punches it is important to make sure everything from the shoulder to the elbow is lined up when the punch connects with the target. It is easy for some people to “paw” their punch and hit with the fingers. This results in a loss of power, a likelihood of wrist issues and you looking like a little kitten trying to paw at a string. Obviously this is not the desired effect for the trainer or the client! Hooks and uppercuts are especially challenging punches for some clients and fighters because depending on the length of the punch you have to do a slight wrist bend inward to ensure the knuckles connect and it’s not a slap. One more thing just to hit the point home, in the sport of Boxing it is illegal to hit with anything else except the knuckles. So whether you train Boxing or actually fight, follow the rules and hit with your knuckles.
For some this is the ultimate reason why they develop wrist and hand issues…. They don’t squeeze at the end of their punch. I tell my fighters and my clients that every time you hit it’s with hundreds of pounds of force. I don’t care who you are, if you throw correctly, that is the force you can generate. Now imagine that amount of force on a lightly closed fist! Another point I use to drive this home is if I were to ask you to plank on your first your body would naturally squeeze the fist tight because the body intuitively knows you’re putting a lot of weight on it. If you went limp with the fist you would buckle the wrist, compress the hand and fall down. I can feel this mistake as a coach when holding focus mitts for a client or fighter and I can see it on a bag, as well. You can actually see the wrist wobble under the force of impact when someone isn’t squeezing. Like I tell my clients and my fighters, “ If you don’t squeeze you will hurt yourself and you won’t hurt anybody”.
3. STEP OR PIVOT
Many are often confused with what is a scoring punch in boxing. In Pros it’s a cleanly landed punch that is effective. In Amateurs it is a punch that hits a scoring part of the body, that has the weight of the body or the snap of the shoulder behind it. As I coach it, you step on the jab and pivot on all your other punches. This is not a solid rule, you can throw a punch that has some pop on it without a pivot or a step, but as a general rule for beginners and novice boxers it is of great importance. The step with jab is important to not only produce power, but to bring you towards, away from or around your opponent. The coach for Heavyweight Champ Larry Holmes said the secret to Holmes’ jab, that literally knocked people down, was the step. Just like any sport that involves powerful twisting motions, the pivot is important to maximize power because it releases your hip to turn. This turn allows for the heaviest parts of your body to rotate with a punch and therefore can massively increase your power. If you want to hit with your full power you need that step and that pivot!
This is what I call a two cent piece of advice that almost anyone could tell you, but if I had a dollar for every time someone threw a punch and held their breath I would have a few extra thousand dollars laying around. People tend not to breath on their punches because they are too tight. This tension is caused by them trying too hard to push the punch instead of just throwing it. The key to becoming faster and hitting harder is to be relax and breath. The fastest Boxers in the history of the sport relaxed and breathed on their punches. Also, if you don’t breath you are going to get prematurely exhausted and hurt your ability to push your body to it’s true output capacity. Make sure the breath with each punch itself is relaxed. Often times Clients and Fighters will do a strenuous “shhh” sound that overly contracts the core and takes too much energy. Focus on a light breath that is either just an exhale or a grunt. This way you can ensure quality punches that don’t tire you out.
THE FINAL BELL
When you apply these 4 principles to your punches you will dramatically increase the quality of your boxing workout and or your performance in the ring. Repetition is the mother of skill so practice, practice practice and unleash your potential!