How to Find Your Dominant Hand

February 9, 2012 February 9, 2012 by Johnny N Boxing Basics, How to Box 64 Comments

How to Find your Dominant Hand

Unless you’re the small percentage of ambidextrous fighters, one of your hands is faster, stronger, and more accurate than the other. Knowing this allows you to determine your proper boxing stance for strategic and anatomic benefits. It may not be an advantage but at least you don’t handicap yourself.

But first of all, how do you figure out your dominant hand?

 

 

Dominant Hand Test for Fighters

Here’s a simple test I use to help fighters figure out their dominant hand.

  1. Go up to a speed bag
  2. Hit the speed bag 10 times with one hand
  3. Now hit 10 times with the other hand
  4. Keep repeating, switching smoothly from one hand to the other

Try to hit it faster with better timing and accuracy, while making smaller circles in the air with your fist. Within a few minutes, one arm will start to outperform the other. Sometimes it’s as obvious as one hand getting tired quickly or not being as fast. You might notice one hand drawing better circles in the air.

  • The hand that performs the best overall is your dominant hand.

 

Now that you know which is your strong hand, I have one piece of advice for you:

The dominant hand belongs in the back.

 

Why must the dominant hand be in the back?

Here we go again. It’s a reminder for some and an eye-opener for others. The average person isn’t ambidextrous. Knowing that, you have to respect YOUR OWN BODY’s preference to give different responsibilities to each hand.

 

Front Hand Responsibilities:

  • measuring range
  • setting up bigger punches
  • defense

Your front hand is responsible for controlling the distance, setting up other punches, and serving as your first line of defense. When you think about it, the jab is a perfect weapon for that front hand. The jab can control the range, set up power shots, and even act as a defense (counter-offense). If you have a great jab, you can win the entire fight by controlling the range and peppering your opponent with constant jabs. You can win a whole fight without ever bringing in the power. Now we know the front hand does the bulk of the work.

 

Back Hand Responsibilities:

  • accuracy
  • speed
  • power

The back hand is responsible for hitting a moving target, being fast, and having power. Think of your back hand as the cannon. It’s farther away from your opponent so it has to be more accurate and fast. The back hand also needs to be powerful because any opponent that gets close to you should be backed off immediately with power. This is why your dominant hand belongs in the back.

 

…Some of you may be wondering…

IF THE FRONT HAND IS MORE IMPORTANT, THEN HOW COME THE STRONG HAND ISN’T IN FRONT?

The moment you put your strong hand in front, you become a one-handed fighter. Your accurate/fast/power hand is forced take on the weak hand responsibilities like measuring range, defense, and setting other punches. The weak will go to the rear where it becomes far less useful because it’s not as accurate, not as fast, and not as powerful.

There is where people like to argue and say, “But can’t I train the weak hand to be more powerful/fast/accurate?!” The answer is yes, but why would you do that when you already have a hand that’s perfectly made for the task? Having the strong hand in the back is like having a strong safety net, it’s the threat of the back hand’s power that keeps them away. If your back hand is weak, your opponents can rush past your front arm and force you into losing exchanges.

 

But doesn’t the front arm (jab arm) need accuracy, speed, and power?

Yes it does, but most of all it needs skill. Accuracy, speed, and power will having great boxing skills is the ultimate goal of making both your arms effective. The front arm is already much closer to your opponent that it doesn’t require all the physical qualities as the back arm. The back arm however, will be USELESS, if it doesn’t have the accuracy/speed/power to threaten from the rear.

 

What about having a southpaw advantage?

The advantage to being a southpaw is not about having a power hand in front. The southpaw advantage is to have the southpaw angles. You can stand like a southpaw but unless you’re a true southpaw, you won’t benefit from their angles because your body isn’t as comfortable in that stance. You might feel more powerful or faster but I promise you won’t be as fluid as a natural southpaw AND you’re still giving up your natural orthodox qualities.

 

What if my “weak hand” is faster or stronger?

The dominant hand, as shown in the speed bag test, is the one you would rely on. (The more accurate and skillful one.) If you had to amputate one arm, which one would you save? — that’s your dominant one. Sure, having speed and power helps, but ultimately the hand with more ability wins.

 

It’s not about stance, it’s about boxing

You’re free to stand anyway you want, but ultimately you will have to accept that you are boxing and the game of boxing sets limits on how you must move. Boxing doesn’t favor fighters with no defense, it doesn’t favor you to stand on one leg (like kickboxing), it doesn’t favor you to run straight into opponents (like grappling).

Positioning the dominant hand in the back isn’t a rule, it’s a fact of boxing. I didn’t make this rule and there’s no official book saying you MUST fight this way. The nature of boxing makes it easier for fighters with their dominant hand in the back. For reasons anatomic or strategic, boxing is easier when you follow this rule. I won’t say there are no exceptions but be aware of the natural advantages you give up by using a switch stance. As long as you’re winning fights, nobody can tell you otherwise.

See my other guides on being an orthodox or southpaw:

 

boxing ebook Advanced Boxing Techniques 30 Day Fighter's Diet Advanced Boxing Footwork Drills
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64 Comments

J February 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I remember you saying the eye test as well, (point your finder on an item and and close the left and right eye switching off and which ever eye lines up with the item or covers it up) is the dominant eye coinciding with the dominant hand. is that a way also or? and is it possible to train to have to dominant hands? or is that a natural gift?

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Johnny N February 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Most people only have one dominant hand. If you give equal training to both, the dominant one will still be better. Is it possible to have two dominant hands? Technically, no — that defeats the purpose of having a “dominant hand”. If this was weight lifting and you had to lay down perfectly flat and apply equal force, then it’s good to be balanced. But with boxing, you stand at an off-angle and each hand has different angles and different responsibilities in combat.

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J February 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm

excuse me two dominant hands

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Gil February 10, 2012 at 9:29 am

That’s interesting, Johnny..I’m right handed, but for some reason seem comfortable in the Southpaw stance..

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bryce February 26, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Im the same way im right handed but the southpaw stance is more comfortable. If I were to skate board or snow board I’d be in the goofy stance (right foot first)

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Gordon February 10, 2012 at 10:22 am

When you say forcing them into a losing exchange, are you referring to just forcing them into a brawl and simply eating their weak rear hand while throwing your strong rear hand?

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Johnny N February 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Exactly Gordon. Theoretically, you should win the exchange because both your hands will hit harder than his.

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odolla February 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

that was a close one, Johnny….great article, BTW.

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Johnny N February 24, 2012 at 3:44 am

Thanks for the heads up.

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Keiron February 16, 2012 at 5:19 am

Firstly Johnny, your site is a revelation! I’ve learn’t so much in a very short space of time. Thank you. I’ve been boxing for about three years now – still very much a novice, but improving ( at least I think so) all the time. Reading this article however, has given me a dilema: I fight orthodox, yet I’m sure my front hand is the stronger limb. I’m not ambidextrious -its kind of strange, for example, if I throw anything (ball etc), its with my left hand, I write and play guitar right handed. I play golf and cricket left handed. Tennis, right handed, Rounders I can swing the bat with both – you get the gist! These are things I’ve always done natuarlly without really thinking about it – maybe my brain is connected funny or something! With regard to my boxing – my defense is tight and my footwork is pretty good. Do you think I should switch? I’ve done it in sparring on occasion – especialy against Southpaws – but my footwork seems to suffer. Any thoughts or advice, would be greatly appreciated.

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Johnny N February 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Keiron, do the test… see which hand is the dominant one. In your case, it looks like you’re ambidextrous because you give so many counter-examples but it seems like orthodox is the right position. Just because the left hand is stronger doesn’t mean it’s the dominant hand.

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j February 22, 2012 at 10:23 am

Instead of using the speed bag to test your dominant hand can i just swing them into the air to find out?

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Johnny N February 24, 2012 at 3:44 am

Swinging at the air isn’t the same. You have to aim at the speed bag to know which hand is more accurate over time.

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Pokyes May 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I’ve been left handed all my life, picked up stuff with my left hand, thrown stuff with my left, write with my left everything with my left. However, whenever i played baseball wen i was young i swung tha bat as a right hander but threw n caught the ball as a left hander. I also play soccer n my powerful foot is my right. I’m absolute rubbish on a speed bag however, so don’t really know how to use it, b4 i started boxing i stood in an orthodox position cuz i thought a faster jab would help, but over time i trained my right 2 throw quick accurate jabs. I’ve sparred only bout 8 times in my southpaw stance n I’ve not gotten to use my left hand much cuz the ppl i spar against r very alert about it n stay as far away as possible cuz im a southpaw, plus I’m kind of a beginner. The only tym i’ve gotten somebody properly was with an uppercut cuz they were looking 4 a body shot, n i did some serious damage, wen i work on the bag i feel more control in powering my left for a straight than my right. I’m able 2 jab n move in2 space away 4rm my opponents power hand in my southpaw stance. oh n my left hooks in an orthodox stance feel abit smoother or is it jus my mind saying so cuz im left handed?. sorry 4 bombing u with all these facts bout myself, lol, I’m looking 2 get in2 boxing seriously so don’t wanna take a wrong turn this early, Thanks Johnny

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Johnny N May 8, 2012 at 4:57 am

I would follow the dominant hand test from above and stick with that. It’s easy to confuse yourself if you do a million activities using different sides for each one. So far it seems like you’re definitely a southpaw.

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mikey December 28, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hey im left handed and im training as southpaw but its not that comfertable I have power in my left arm and I can’t decide between orthodox or southpaw,I do many activities with both hands

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Johnny N January 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Generally speaking: “left-handed = southpaw”

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Pokyes May 2, 2012 at 12:00 am

N i just did your dominant eye test, n my left eye was dominant…

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Mark May 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Hey Johnny I just came across your site and it is awesome. I just started boxing 2 months ago and am just starting to spar more. I am definitely dominate left handed but thought maybe I should be boxing as a righty due to the fact that I am so left hand dominant my right hand has little power. I also have a weird birth defect where my right arm is 1.5 inches shorter than my left, other then that I’m all good though :)

After reading this I’ll stop with that little experiment and go Southpaw.

Any tips other on to improve my right arm jab speed and power? Probably just practice, practice, practice but any drill ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for all your great articles.

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Johnny N May 8, 2012 at 11:51 am

Definitely more practice, Mark. Shadowboxing, heavy bag, and double-end bag. Also try throwing it the jab powerfully without disrupting your balance.

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Jeremy June 13, 2012 at 6:05 am

I disagree with this article. Ike Quartey, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Juan Urango, Marvin Hagler, Michael Moorer, Bruce Lee, Anderson Silva, Winky Wright….all fought with their dominant hand in front

If you have power in both hands….its BETTER to have the strong hand in front because you will have a great jab and great hook…and the cross gets help from the body rotation and leg explosion anyway, so it will also be a strong punch even coming with the weaker hand.

The “you will not feel comfortable and move natural unless you fight in this stance” is a terrible inaccurate generalisation.

Ideally know which stance you are comfortable and most effective in and go with it

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JAG June 13, 2012 at 7:29 am

eventually ill find out that your stronger hand is in front, and ill force you to throw your weak hand, the reason for your power hand being in the back is because that’s your big punch look at it like this the front hands are the small bombs as a decoy and the back hand is the atomic bomb

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Jay-Radio June 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

True to an extent, but it is possible to knock someone out with a strong jab. You can also place your jabs with more accuracy to influence your opponent’s moments or even follow with a hook (which is capable is a knockout) while still having knockout power in the rear hand. It’s all in my opinion a matter of your fighting style

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JAG June 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I agree with you alot of fighters like alternating from southpaw to orthodox throughout the fight to keep their opponents guessing, like what johnny says it can be good for strategic purposes, if your fighting a guy and your switching from southpaw to orthodox, and your opponent cant stop the orthodox, then you will have a huge advantage and more than likely be able to knock your opponent, but the jab isnt meant to be strong, but what if your opponent shuts down your lead hand? and your weak hand in the back now what?

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Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 11:25 am

Jeremy, you have the choice of following the 99% of the majority in boxing. Or being like the 1% of the majority in boxing. If having the strong hand in front was better, you would see many more successful fighters with the strong hand in front.

Simply put, being a successful fighter with the dominant hand in front is the EXCEPTION, not the norm. I’m not saying it can’t be done but I wouldn’t recommend it as the easiest way to be champion. But yes, you can do whatever you’re comfortable with. No one can tell you otherwise if you’re already champion of the world.

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srinivas July 21, 2012 at 6:54 am

how should be a boxers warm up?

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Johnny N July 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

Dynamic stretching, shadowboxing, jump-rope.

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Albert Vela September 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I’m new to boxing coming from 3 yrs wing tsun and empty hand escrima. In both styles each side was given equal training and eventually I didn’t care or notice which leg was forward. With each side feeling even should I just pick a stance and stick with it? or keep switching stances like I’m used to?

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Johnny N September 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Boxers, it’s standard practice to stick to one side. Put your dominant hand in the back.

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Anti-Johnny September 11, 2012 at 4:52 am

Johnny, you forget that a lot of fighters are one handed anyway, EVEN with the non dominant hand. I personally see it more as a stance thing, a right handed southpaw is a bad idea, but a lefty orthodox not so much, especially if your feet movement feels more comfortable.

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Johnny N September 12, 2012 at 9:00 am

I didn’t forget. The theory behind the boxing stance is BASED on the assumption that the fighter is one-handed. We purposely put the strong hand in back because it is the best stance for a one-handed fighter. The more one-handed you are, the more important it is for you to have that dominant hand in the back.

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Anti-Johnny September 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Oh I think you misunderstood me, I meant people like right handed left hookers, ie. joe frazier’s probably the most one armed fighter I can think of.

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Aaron September 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Hey Johnny great site! Got a quick question,
im left eye dominant, but right-handed and fight orthadox.
Do you think this can some way affect my vision/accuracy and depth perception?

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Johnny N September 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Maybe it can but it’s not like you can change it. I’m the same as you, actually.

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murakami September 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm

hi johnny,

i have a weird problem… or maybe not so much a problem;
i feel really comfortable in a southpaw stance. i always feel
at home, but my right hand is definitely more stronger and snappier.
my left is more slow and i feel it pushes harder than it snaps foward.

what do you suggest in this situation? i’ve kickboxed for many
years and i was always southpaw. after starting up boxing it
just feels natural. my right arm never tires, but my left does. should
i switch stances? being on my right really makes me feel awkward.

please keep in mind that i didn’t suddenly want to be southpaw. it just
left right from the beginning. thanks for the awesome article!

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Johnny N September 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm

My only suggestion is to follow the guide and put your dominant hand in the back.

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jose a December 21, 2013 at 11:44 am

Ok I could stand on my right foot with my stronger hand in the front which is my right but I could also stand on my left with my weaker hand in the front which is my left that’s how I normally stand but I feel quicker, kinda comfortable and, more faster when I stand ony right foot. But I do self training I shadow box or just put on the gloves with my bro and when I do I end up switching it up a lot well just when I put on the gloves any ideas?

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 6:57 pm

It sounds like you lack training and therefore, are only a one-handed fighter. When fighters are one-handed, the dominant usually feels better in front. But once you become a trained 2-handed fighter, you’ll feel better with the weak one in front.

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Adam October 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Hi,im having trouble deciding which stance to go on,i hear what ur saying n if i was left handed and left footed i wldnt have a problem but im left handed and right footed,left hand dominant,right foot dominant,my only issue is is that i skateboard natural (right leg at back) which means thats where my balance is,n i can step in an out better in an orthadox stance,but again iv read over n over about how important it is to have ur dominant hand out back,which is fine,that is if u cld help me out on how to strengthen my les dominant leg n improve my balence in a southpaw stance?

Cheers

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Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Jump rope, running, shadowboxing and the usual plyometric exercises.

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Elwin, November 11, 2012 at 8:34 am

Johnny, hi, i am an amateur boxer from india, and i box at light welterweight(64 kgs)
i am 6’1
i just want to know, is it possible to throw a left hook from the outside range, like a swing
i hate fighting on the inside, since i cant use my reach(77”)
for all the boxers in my weight class are shorter than me
any tips , on throwing a swing?

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Johnny N November 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Yes you can. It would be a long-range hook.

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Elwin November 14, 2012 at 12:40 am

what’s a ‘haymaker’ johnny?
is it useful for outside fighters like me?
where is it aimed?
any tips on throwing it?

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Johnny N November 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm

A haymaker is a wide looping punch. It’s not a recommended punch for beginners because it leaves you wide open. It’s useful when thrown at the right times, which is not often. Anybody can throw it but has to be at the right time. My recommendation (especially if you don’t know what it is) is to focus on other punches because they’re more useful.

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randy January 15, 2013 at 7:20 am

hey johnny love the site im left handed dominant but my strong side and dominant eye are my right i also do many things right handed and seem to fight better orthadox should i switch to southpaw or stay orthadox

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Johnny N January 23, 2013 at 11:53 am

Follow the guide.

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Christian Church January 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm

what if you are one of those special fighters and you are ambidextrous? what do you do for yours stance

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Johnny N January 23, 2013 at 11:53 am

If you’re truly ambidextrous than it doesn’t matter which one you pick. If anything, pick southpaw since that gives people problems.

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Alex March 4, 2013 at 1:35 am

Johnny,

Big, big thanks for this site, regrouping all the tips (hell of a work), well organised and overall netted by a very good spirit (fighting one of course!). Thanks!!!

As for me I am an orthodoxe stance boxer but…l ameft handed (left eye dominant and so on). I was wondering if changing my stance to my natural born one would be a good idea after a couple of years I have allready been boxing with the orthodoxe stance.

Reading all the comments and your advises, the answer is yes, but on the other side, that would mean, drop down my current skills and go through a whole prossess again to change stance

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Johnny N March 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm

You have to use your most natural stance to reach your full potential. The natural stance will help you learn faster, learn easier, and reach your highest capability. It’s like saying, “Should I learn a new punching technique which feels weird? Or should I stick to my old crappy technique that I’m used to?”

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AA April 24, 2013 at 1:00 am

I start to boxing soon, but wantede to prepar my self a bit before starting, now i have been reading up on southpaws stance and normal stance but i don’t know whits one to use, my dominating eye is my left eye, but my dominating hand is my right, whits one should i use or should i talk to a tranier about it?

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AA April 24, 2013 at 1:25 am

wonna add, it fells more right to stand whit my left hand in the back rather then my right hand in the back.

and thanks for the side, helped me out!

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Johnny N April 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

Sounds like you’re orthodox.

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DJP July 3, 2013 at 6:25 am

WOW!!!!! I love this site. Well done.

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KJD August 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm

i box for 3 yeaars and want to develop my ring generalship so. Should I switch southpaw to learn the lefty stance be a switch hitter like some fighters?

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Johnny N August 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm

You can do whatever you want. It’s good to train the other side a bit but your dominant side should still be your focus. Personally, I never train southpaw but I do use that position from time to time in sparring.

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Eric M January 24, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Hey Johnny, love these articles man. Your website is so resourceful. I have a question about foot placement though. I know you normally want your dominant foot in the back as well.. I am right handed and my right foot is dominant as well so orthodox feels great. My friend is right handed but has a dominant left foot, so his movements feel awkward in an orthodox stance. I know you generally discourage fighting with your dominant hand in the front, but would it be wise for a right handed boxer to fight from the southpaw stance if he has a dominant left foot?

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Johnny N January 24, 2014 at 11:51 pm

The rule is to leave the dominant hand in the back. I have a stronger left leg as well but I’m right hand dominant and so I leave my right hand in the back.

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Wowka February 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

Hi Johnny!
Awesome site! I’ve found a lot of useful information here.
But I have a question.
What is more important dominant eye or dominant arm(+leg). I feel that my right arm is more skilled and strong but my dominant eye is my left eye. Orthodox or Southpaw stance is better for me?

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Johnny N February 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Put the dominant hand in back.

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