A guide to help beginner boxers decide between standing orthodox (left foot first) or southpaw (right foot first). Breaks down the reasoning and why.
Orthodox VS Southpaw Stance
Strong Hand in Front or Back?
To have an orthodox stance means to stand with your left foot in the front and right foot in the back. To have a southpaw stance means to stand with your right foot in the front and left foot in the back. In general, you would always have your strongest hand in the back. The reason is because the back hand has more room and distance to throw a harder punch whereas the front hand is for throw fast jabs to setup your bigger punches. From a technical standpoint, having your weak hand in front would make it more likely for it to connect with punches than to have the weak hand all the way in the back.
I’ve seen many streetfighters or people who come from martial arts that love to stand with their strong hand in front. I don’t recommend this because they usually put the strong hand in front because it is more likely to connect with punches. At the same time, their weak hand is too far back and they never get a chance to really land it. As time goes on, they become just a one-armed fighter. If you’re going to be a one-armed fighter, you might as well have your strong hand in the back so that the strongest punch thrown is thrown by the strongest hand, and your jabs can be thrown by the weaker hand in the front. To use your strong arm to jab would be a waste of energy.
Professional Boxers with Strong Hand in Front
There are some professional boxers that stand with their strong arm in front. These are boxers that have had their stances converted for some reason. Usually, it is because their trainer is unable to train from the opposite stance and the fighters themselves don’t really know which hand is stronger. Some recent examples are Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, and Victor Ortiz. These are professional boxers who have developed their weak hand to be just as deadly as their strong hand, therefore they can have their less dominant hand in the back and still be very effective. A great advantage to having your strong hand in front is that you can throw very powerful left hooks (or right hooks if you’re southpaw). Having a powerful left hook is such a huge advantage because it is a power punch in the front hand so it’s more likely to connect and it’s also blinding side punch so it’s more likely to turn your opponent’s head and knock him out.
Finding Your Dominant Hand
It is uncommon but there are people out there that write with their right hand but the left hand is stronger (like myself). In this case, you simply have to choose what works best for you. Another way to go about it is find your dominant eye and to stand so that your dominant eye is looking down your rear arm when your punch (if right eye is dominant, put the right hand in the back; and vice versa). The easiest way to find your dominant eye is to quickly hold your finger up into the air and cover an object (a lightbulb, a spot on the wall, a faraway tree) with that finger. Next, you take turns closing one eye and leaving the other open. The eye that has the finger lined up perfectly with that object is your dominant eye.
Switch Stance While Fighting
I’ve seen this done a million times and have done it myself numerous times. If you’re a very new beginner level boxer, you shouldn’t be doing this. You should be working on your form and perfecting your offense and defense from one stance first. When you’re ready to do advance stuff, then move up. Until then, leave the fancy stance-switching to the experts. I will however support you switching stances if you find that it’s easier for you defensively and you’re losing the fight badly.
Ultimately, I’m advocating two things: 1) Don’t stand with your strong hand in front unless you’re absolutely dedicating yourself to developing the weaker hand. 2) Don’t switch stances while you train because you should be practicing your number stance to make it better.
See my other guides on boxing stance: