Have You Got Any Tips to Improve Balance?

February 7, 2009 February 7, 2009 by Johnny N Boxing Basics, Boxing Mailbag 21 Comments

Q: Have you got any tips to improve balance? Exercises I can do at home? Afterall, a boxer without a good base, is a useless boxer.

A: I’m going to turn this into an article soon but here are the basic tips:

– A friend a very useful piece of advice with me a while ago… “SINK, don’t SQUAT”. It basically means that when you bend your knees to lower yourself, pull your butt into the ground instead of sticking your butt out and then bending forward to compensate. The general idea is that when you lower your butt, it’s lowering your center of gravity whereas when you’re sticking your butt out, you’re just throwing yourself off center and then compensating for it with a forward lean. 

– To keep your balance while punching, don’t punch too hard and lean too much when you throw your weight.  Throw softer punches and don’t lean forward so much.

– To keep your balance while getting punched, lower your center of gravity properly so you can brace for the impact. It also helps to do some parrying instead of always taking the shot square on. 

– When moving, take slow deliberate steps and move the 1st foot far and the 2nd foot a little short. Don’t always bounce around on your tippy toes. Watch MIGUEL COTTO and copy his slow footwork movements. It’s very slow but precise and calm. When you move, try to keep your head over your waist most of the time. (It sounds to me like you like to learn forward a lot.)

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Kardash February 7, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Thanks man! I’ll be sure to take that in mind next sparring-session. Can I expect some home-exercises in your final article?



Johnny N February 9, 2009 at 5:13 am

boxing balance exercises
I’ll be sure to include some exercises in the article for sure! Thanks again for writing!


cw February 15, 2009 at 3:20 pm

not much in way of actual advise as such, but id say one of the biggest factors wen dealing with balance is knowing your center of gravity, so long as you have it correct you should find you can get 100% balance. try out some simple yoga techniques they will seem difficult at first but your balance and also flexability will soon come. boxing could b broke down into a million different forms of routines techniques and exercises none are nessisarily write nor wrong but going outside of the usual restraints of some routine using such means as yoga can open you to becoming the all round fighting warrior that u wish 2 become. by no means focus souly on yoga but as a part of a wide range of activity is certainly a good tool.


Johnny N February 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm

yoga rules!
YES! I totally agree. I’ve met many MMA fighters that secretly do yoga to improve their balance and flexibility!


cain August 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

wasnt sure where to post this question, but i guess it has to do with having good base
Im a light guy (8 and a half stone) and i recently started playing sports which involve a lot of kicking footballs and running (intense 2 hours of running hard and kicking footballs).
I was wondering could the extra muscle on my legs make it harder for me to bob and weave and use footwork to evade punches in the ring?


Johnny N August 28, 2009 at 4:46 am

leg muscle in boxing
Extra muscle on your legs from running is always good! You need as much as you can since the legs move your body, and they also add power and quickness to your defensive and offensive movements. The thing you want to make sure to avoid is to add leg muscle by using heavy heavy weights.


cain August 28, 2009 at 7:07 am

not using heavy weights, but kicking weighted balls.
Oh ok, i worried because my legs were sore after training and then i couldnt move them gracefully, but now they’re healed they feel fine.

I dont really used weights, but would doing something like kicking a weighted ball (from my hands not off the ground) to improve kicking distance count as using weights to add muscle?


Johnny N August 28, 2009 at 1:42 pm

weights and boxing training
kicking a weighted ball won’t count as “using weights” so you’re perfectly fine doing it. it’s a great exercise!


cain August 28, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Sweet. May I just ask, why is using heavy weights for leg muscle bad (in regards to boxing)?


Will August 31, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Hi Cain,
A disclaimer; im not a pro boxer, i just box for fun! However I have picked up a few things from trainers and the like.
I don’t know the exact science of how it all works but ill try and contribute anyway. When doing heavy weights, whether it be for arms chest leg etc, you usually do them slowly. This will build your muscle mass but it may not help you in terms of speed. Instead of doing heavy weights try lighter weights and increase the reps and sets and “Burst” when lifting. So lift the weights very quickly, and release slowly. This will help with both strength and speed.
Otherwise, its not necessarily a bad thing, but you shouldn’t build your leg muscles purely by doing weights. Mix in running, skipping and swimming as well.
If you follow MMA, George St Pierre, welter weight champion (i think) trains this way. he does all the regular weight training but he does it in bursts, and he is as quick as lightning.
Hope that helped.


cain September 3, 2009 at 6:33 am

Yeah that helped, makes sense to me. Thanks Will.


john September 5, 2009 at 1:44 pm

thanks will
great detailed explanation! burst/power exercises are the way to go when using weights!


gym July 10, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I’ve been working at a weights gym for quite some time now and I have realized that doing low reps high weight makes a big difference in the ring, not that I’m trying to disprove your guyses points but I have noticed in mma it is way easier to overpower someone when wrestling. I don’t know if this is my natural strength or has anything to do with this stream. Please tell me what I’m doing wrong or right in this situation


Johnny N July 10, 2010 at 10:57 pm

weights and help in the ring
Lifting weights will help your performance. Doing too much of anything will cause you disadvantage in other areas.

You are right about it being easier to overpower people in MMA. From my experience when grappling, in MMA it’s all about hip control. Whoever has the hip control, generally lands the more powerful takedown. In rare occasions, you might be controlling your opponent’s hip but still be in a losing position because he’s isolated your head or your arm in a way that leaves you in at a dangerous disadvantage.

In boxing, it’s a little trickier to overpower someone because even though you have superior balance or weight-positioning, you can STILL lose because he can land a single punch to your head which puts you at great disadvantage.

Does that help?


Isaac Oh July 12, 2010 at 10:29 am

Balance ball
One way i train is standing upright on a balance ball by grabbing the sides with my knees and eventually taking my feet off the ground, balancing on the ball.

From there, i would practice my punches.


J January 12, 2012 at 3:42 am

should i add a small sink to my stance as well so i would be better prepared for the punches and blocks? just so my opponent doesnt try to guess what im doing. or should i make it a quick shock?


Johnny N January 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm

It’s a quick shock only when you need it.


William Davis January 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Hi Johnny,

When throwing left and right shovel hooks to the body, should you try to hit under the bottom edge of ribcage rather than just landing on the ribcage? I’ve been told going under the ribcage is more effective since it will shock the underlying organs more effectively.

Also, can body hooks be thrown in a more horizontal motion (to get around your opponent’s elbow) in addition to the diagonal motion of the shovel hook?

Thanks again for your time.


Johnny N January 29, 2013 at 10:56 am

You hit whatever you can but yes, getting under the ribs or even the edge of the ribs can be very effective. A good shot to the ribs will hurt regardless.

Can body hooks be thrown in a more horizontal motion? OF COURSE. Will it always be available and conveniently positioned for you to do that? NO. So you have to throw in all directions and angles to hit the target you want but yes, you did mention one way of targeting it.


Rick May 14, 2013 at 8:42 am

Hello to all.
Much respect to Mr Johnny ( dude do you ever sleep?!) its good to find kindred spirits that love our sport and know that boxing is an art that is relative to winning in life. Quick question and short background on myself. Amateur boxer ( no competition fights yet) good speed and power, good chin. I know my footwork is not right. I know that mastery of the basics is what really counts but my footwork feels slow and goofy. Bruce lee spoke of kinetic perception and smooth and efficient motion and I’m not feeling good about my mobility. I have gone through all your tips and they are all the real thing but I’m not finding what I need anywhere . Fast, smooth, efficient footwork , alive and now in the moment responding to what is and not your inner screams and yells or ego. I think a good shadow boxing regiment is what’s needed . Repetition is said to be the key. Drill drill drill practice practice drill hard. Not standing in front of a mirror but using imagination to make training as close to being the real thing as possible. Is there a good set of drills or do you just make a list of all possibilities and go with that? How do we stay grounded yet still be quick and CHANGE DIRECTION QUICKLY AND SMOOTHLY??
Positive response from you all will be a great help and hopefully a relief. One last thought, am I right in saying that banging the bag is good but not best for this because the resistance from the bag keeps us from having to use all our coordination by keeping us upright when throwing punches? I feel a HARDCORE shadow boxing regimen is the key to becoming effortless and artful ( poetry in motion) Thanks


Johnny N May 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Being able to change direction quickly and smoothly will require serious training in balance and footwork. I have a new premium guide set for release soon. Be on the lookout for it. 🙂


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