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.
- Go up to a speed bag
- Hit the speed bag 10 times with one hand
- Now hit 10 times with the other hand
- 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
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:
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: