How to Improve Your Boxing Balance

June 28, 2009 June 28, 2009 by Johnny N Body Movement, Boxing Techniques 43 Comments

Improving Boxing Balance

Balance is one of the most underrated assets of a boxer’s advantages. Learn how to take your boxing balance to the next level.

Understanding Balance

Many athletes and boxers in general don’t start out learning how to control their balance. They get too carried away by the sport’s flashy moves that they don’t learn to appreciate the value of good balance. To have good balance in boxing means to have a good foundation that keeps your body upright and stable so that you may attack, defend, or counter without worry of losing your footing and compromising your own position.

The Center of Gravity

Being aware of your center of gravity (CoG) is the most important thing in learning how to keep your balance in the ring. You can typically find your CoG within your hip area. When you bend your knees a little, the CoG drops lower. The lower your CoG, the less likely you are to get lose your balance as you fight in the ring. Ideally, you always want to be the fighter with the lower CoG; he is the one who is more likely to be able to push the other guy around. Try to imagine two sumo wrestlers squaring off on the mat; they’re both usually trying to get as low to the ground as much as possible so that they can tip the other guy off balance. The ultimate goal is to always keep your CoG nice and low so that you’re the one moving powerfully and tipping the other boxer off balance instead of vice versa.

The hard part of having good balance in boxing is to have your CoG in control as you move around the ring and throw punches. (Standing still in good balance is easy!) The general idea is that you always want to ground yourself as you move. You do this by bending the knees and moving your body WITH your CoG instead of independantly of your CoG. Many beginner boxers are boxing with only their upper body so their arms and torso are moving independently of their hips and legs. You also want to keep your upper body OVER your CoG at all times instead of letting your upper body lean too much forward when punching or too much back when defending. If your upper body is leaning too far forward, you’ll get counter-punched easily. If your body is leaning back too far, you won’t be in a position to counter-punch. Worse of all, your feet will constantly be move around as you try to catch your balance so now you’re forced to throw weaker punches since your feet aren’t grounded. Again, you want to move your CoG with every step or punch that you execute! By moving your CoG in harmony with every body movement that you make, you not only increase your balance but increase the power of your movement! (Yes, this means far stronger punches!)

Boxing Benefits from Good Balance

  • Increases defensive abilities since punches don’t knock you off balance now.
  • Increased punching power since you’re moving your center-of-gravity with your punch and using it to add power to punches.
  • Increased counter-punching opportunities because you’re not getting pushed off balance when you’re negating punches.
  • Increased footwork abilities since you can move around the ring more now that you have a better understanding of balance.
  • Increased boxing confidence since you’re not finding yourself in awkward positions where your feet are tangled up and your hands are out of position against oncoming punches.
  • Increased boxing ability since your balance is superior to your opponents so you can get away with more complicated body movements and punches.

Moving without Compromising Your Balance

Many boxers don’t know how to move around the ring without losing their balance. If you don’t know how to properly move your body, you will easily get pushed off balance by hard punches and also find yourself constantly out of position to counter-punch or defend yourself adequately. The key is to never throw off your CoG or tip it over when you’re moving around the ring. You want to stay grounded as much as possible! Balanced Movement Tips:

  • BEND THE KNEES – If you walk around the ring on straight legs it’s easy to get pushed over when you block or punches. Bend your knees so that you can take impact better. By lowering your CoG to the floor, you create a more grounded base for yourself and prevent the likelihood of your CoG getting tipped over.
  • DROP STEP – When you take a step, bend your knees and try dropping your CoG as you move into the new position. The worst thing you can do is uproot yourself (lifting the hips) and shoot your CoG skywards when you’re moving around in the ring. Every time you lift your CoG further from the ground during a movement, you make your body’s balance vulnerable to opponent’s attacks.
  • UPPER BODY OVER COG – Try to keep your upper body over the CoG at all times. Don’t let it lean too far forwards or too far backwards. Moving it around at times to give yourself new punching angles or evade punches is OK – what you don’t want to do is stand around with your upper body disconnected from your CoG.

Punching without Compromising Your Balance

Many boxers don’t know how to punch without losing their balance. Below are some basic methods to deliver a punch without decreasing your balance. Balanced Punching Tips:

  • PUNCH LIGHTER – don’t over-commit to your punches! (This will also increase your recovery time and tighten up your defense!)
  • BEND THE KNEES – always keep your knees bent so that your CoG moves with you everytime you punch instead of your upper body just swinging over the CoG all the time. This also increases your punching power! (EXAMPLE: bend and dip into the left knee when you throw the right hand.)
  • GROUND YOUR FEET – yes, always keep your feet on the ground ESPECIALLY when you’re punching. It increases balance and also increases your punching power. Don’t throw punches with your feet lifted; you’re much more likely to throw yourself off balance.
  • MOVE YOUR COG – Move your CoG with the punches! Don’t just let your upper body swing over your CoG when you punch! Bend the knees and move your CoG into the punch!

Common Mistakes that Decrease A Boxer’s Balance

  • punching too hard
  • lifting the feet too much (try not to bounce around the ring or throw punch exchanges with your feet lifted off the ground)
  • forgetting to bend the knees
  • leaning forward too much (common in overly aggressive fighters)
  • spreading the feet too far (some people think that spreading the feet real far will lower the CoG). Just because your feet is far doesn’t mean your balance is better; doing this might turn your CoG into a big wing that requires a very wide swing when you pivot and this is where you’re vulnerable to losing your balance and getting pushed over if an opponents punches you from the side.

Sinking VS Squatting

A friend told me a very useful piece of advice… “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. The most common instance where this error is made is usually when beginner level boxers learn to duck punches. Instead of bending the knees to lower their head, they bend at their waist. Again, it’s a huge no-no and they’re actually throwing themselves off balance.

Best Boxer to Learn Balance From:

Bernard Hopkins! This guy is a master of balance! You rarely ever see him over-extend himself to throw a punch or get knocked off balance. He’s always in position to punch, block, move, and counter!

Breaking the Rules

Believe it or not, rules are meant to be broken – BUT, you may only do so after you learn the basics and master them. Once you learn everything there is to staying balanced, you can go crazy and hop around all over the place like Naseem Hamed and get away with it. However, this most likely won’t be for another five years at least. In the meanwhile, stay grounded and try your best to box within the guidelines set above. Keep your feet on the floor, bend your knees, and SINK instead of squatting! As always, GOOD LUCK!

Boxing Balance Exercises and Drills

  • Shadow Boxing – this is great for learning how to punch while maintaining your balance. Since you’re punching the air, your body will get thrown off balance if you punch too hard. (Punching on a heavy bag all day might decrease your balance because you’re always throwing body weight into the bag in hopes of getting a bigger punch. In a real fight, you’ll find yourself off balance every time you miss.)
  • Footwork Drills – try to do footwork drills while keeping your CoG directly under you at all times. Don’t forget the SINK-DON’T-SQUAT rule!
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43 Comments

Bren December 21, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Thanks rhis helps
These articles are great!!!!! Have you ever went pro and in a championsip

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J.J. Doublejs February 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Johnny… Thanks for taking the time to explain the sport of sparring versus boxing/fighting to all of us amateur and professional boxers out here. My nephew and I have been sparring and he felt that he had been losing the sparring matches. I explained to him that sparring is different from boxing, but wasn’t convincing enough for him. I found your articles and let him read the differences. After he read your comments in print, it has made a big change in our sparring sessions. Thanks again… Talk at you soon, Johnny (DoubleJs)

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Johnny N February 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Sparring is best used for developing skills so you’ll want to go slow enough that both guys can use everything they know. But sometimes it’s good to have a full-paced mock fight to prepare you for competition. But you really can’t “fight” everyday; you’ll destroy your body if you do that.

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Johnny N December 23, 2009 at 11:53 pm

boxing professionally or winning a championship
Thanks for the compliment, Bren. It’s comments like those that keep me going. I’ve never went pro or won a boxing championship but I have trained hard and I have learned several different styles and trained alongside professionals and world champions. I’m far from the best, but I would like to think that I’m experienced.

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Wayne January 3, 2010 at 12:16 am

What do you think of Kenny Weldon’s training fighters to fight from the back foot?

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Johnny N January 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

boxing off the back foot
Thanks for bringing him to my attention, Wayne. I had a lot of fun watching the videos and remembering the basics. O-K!

Kenny Weldon is right about the back foot. It gives you more mobility and ability throw meaningful punches from all directions.

As for what I think…For the most part, if you stand on your lead foot, your back hand punches are not going to have as much power since your weight is already transferred to your lead foot. On the other hand, if your weight is too much on the back foot, it’s going to be a lot easier for your opponents to walk in to you and push you back into the ropes.

Ultimately, you don’t want your weight to be directly over the back foot but instead somewhere between your feet and then more so towards the back foot or lead foot at times. As long as you know why you’re doing things… you should be ok.

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Steve January 30, 2010 at 9:41 am

very nice
Great article

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Ashraf August 15, 2010 at 1:09 pm

great article
I think you might need to take a look at vasyl lomachekno, i think he got great techniques and balance.

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Johnny N August 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I just finished watching Vasyl Lomachenko fight Oscar Valdez
Very good balance and tricky southpaw technique. Thanks for the tip.

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tonyb August 23, 2010 at 5:16 am

GREAT wbsite!!!
your stuff makes sense,and all ive readen so far has been perfect,and makes sense,and are deffently fundamently correct. i just wans to say to all boxers,out off big experience!train the back side of your body!!ecpeccily backside of tour shoulders!!!! thath will prevent you from shoulder injurys,and prevent the shoulders to be too heavy in the front,and hanging forwards.tony

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Johnny N August 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm

thank you!
Thanks Tonyb, it’s a lot of work to write these articles and I appreciate all compliments.

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tony August 24, 2010 at 5:09 am

u deffently deserve it!!!
im reading this website over and over again,about 5 houers every day,cause im a learner,and i study boxing to get a better boxing my self,and also to becoma a better trainer.an this website is the best ive ever seen.all of your stoff is so deeply explained,and after reading mutch heremive been thinking so mutch smarter in everything about boxing.ill keep reading,and enjoy.thanks for so mutch free,and great stuff.your realy putting in great work

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JaketheSnake August 24, 2010 at 11:47 pm

look at Zab Judah’s balance
this is a great post and I agree with your comment on Bhop’s balance. But for the “flashy” kind of balance, what do you think of Zab Judah? He moves around beautifully and is always smooth and upright. He does it not by taking short steps like Bernard but looong ones.

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tony August 25, 2010 at 5:38 am

a basic and simple tips too improve your balance.first of,yoy want to place your feets right.to many says you the basic stand is too have your feets shoulder with apart. but if i say to a person,to do that ,he will stand with the feets placed shoulder with apart right beside one another. if you try placing your feet shoulder with apart,you can try getting another person to push you backwards or forwards.if you get out of balance,you put your back foot just alittle more behind you.and if you have the person then push you to the side,and you get out of balance,you want to spred the feets alittle more.remeber.small adjustments.and try to stay with the weight on both of your feets.not all weight on the front,or the back foot.all of thath will make your balance horrible.and also,a simlpe wourkout,to stable your balance,is to jump on the left foot 20 times,and then after you jump on the right foot 20 times,and check with foot youre most tired in. if you get more tired in one of the feets,you have to strengthen thath a little more than the other..it so mutch more i can write .but hopes this helps. the best thing to do is to ask your trainier,or a more experienced boxer you work with…tony

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Johnny N August 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm

zab judah’s balance and footwork
Zab Judah definitely has a flashy movement. He’s real good at changing paces and shifting his feet fast. If you like that kind of movement, you should watch more Pernell Whitaker.

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J September 6, 2010 at 9:13 am

Great article. Also, keeping your back straight and twisting your upper body so it presents less of a target is a must.

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King Kuldeep March 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Its really a great article and can help anyone specially if he is a beginner. By the way, thanks a lot for this nice article…

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Papi April 11, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Very useful advice for all levels
Great articles, I recently started boxing and I am glad to see that my coach’s advice seems pretty much in line with what you write about. You are able to bring more clarification and justification for a lot of the techniques which greatly help me apply them.

I now also get to watch fights with a keener eye and am able to see some little subtleties or better understand a fighter’s behavior in certain circumstances.

Keep up the good work and thanks for the advice.

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just lottie May 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

great article , my balance is something i have been worrying about even tho i have more weight behind me than my opponant i’m more than aware that she gets me off balance and i’m a goner ! ha ! some great drills there and one big mistake i seem to be making from reading this article is leaning in from back foot ! great read thankyou x

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Andre May 27, 2011 at 12:41 am

footwork
Great article and great website all around. Can you guys add some stuff to the footwork page?

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Johnny N May 28, 2011 at 11:02 am

Hi Andre, I’ve got a lot of great footwork stuff written up but it’s not ready to be released yet. Keep checking back, I think it’ll be ready in about 2 months.

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cozy July 19, 2011 at 4:38 am

if practicing in heavy bag vl decrease my balance dn wr shud I practice

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Johnny N July 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm

@cozy – try to move around the heavy bag some more. When it moves away, you chase it. When it comes at you, you back up as you punch it. Throw lighter punches and working on not swinging yourself off balance.

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Lachlan August 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I am Australian and was looking for some upper body strength and endurance exercises to help me in the our national sport Aussie Rules football. I came across your page and it’s a gold mine. I’m tall but quite lean and got pushed around a bit by the older blokes that have 30kg plus weight advantages. I can’t say strongly enough how much your explanations on flexibilty, timing, coordination and all the other sections have helped me. I’ve had a bad knock playing Aussie Rules and the docs have said not to play contact sport. I’ve stuck with footy against that advice but I think boxing would be too big a risk sadly but you’ve helped me a massive amount in protecting myself and using my body more efficiently. Again thank you very much!

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Johnny N August 6, 2011 at 4:27 am

@Lachlan – wow, not even my sport but I’m glad I could help!

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andrewp August 10, 2011 at 10:23 pm

backfoot rear hand
brilliant articles johnny although i disagree with the reasoning for back foot rear hand being more powerful because its traveling farther.for one the hardest knockout specilists have always been front foot.the other being science doesnt back it up either the equation for force hasnt got distance travelled in it .i.e.as long as you create speed (acceleration) and add weight you have power.another flaw with backfoot metholodgy is putting too much emphasis on power coming off the floor i.e. really exaggerting rear leg bend.ofcourse everything comes from the floor but more to do with developing speed(to add to body weight).again the equation doesnt care where it comes from distance or floor only that its there.its the reason pacman has power and boxing scratches its head speed and weight.andyp

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J January 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm

i feel jump rope and the step ladder is amazing for footwork

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mike August 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Johnny as far as always moving n bending your knees n staying in the “sink position” . You really have to develop strong legs ? Cuz after a while of being low mt legs get tired n notice I end up tall again. I like to be on my toes n move. Sinking makes it hard to be on my toes n move. Should I forget trying to bounce n move around n stick to being grounded ? Thanks

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Don’t over-do it. Don’t bend too low. Relax the knees, you don’t need to actually bend into them.

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Sam December 22, 2013 at 4:21 am

Hey Johnny do you think shadow boxing with your eyes closed is a good way to develop better balence.

Any advice would be great thanks.

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 7:03 pm

I do it from time to time and yes, it’s a good way to become more aware of your balance. Good thinking, Sam.

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Sam January 17, 2014 at 3:56 am

Thanks for the feedback.

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Larry March 12, 2014 at 3:57 am

Hey Johnny but when i sink automatically My Butt sticks a Little Bit not so much when i squat just a Little Bit is that normal ?

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Johnny N March 23, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Try to bend your knees without lowering your hips. Use that visualization and see if that helps you.

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Jose March 29, 2014 at 10:13 am

Hey jonnhy I tend to feel off balance a lot during sparring . I like to be on my toes , and I wanted to ask you . Since im always on my toes , when I throw a punch should I do it while im on my toes or should I get flat footed just to trow the punch and then go back to being on my toes ?

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Johnny N April 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Great question, Jose. I have so many tips for this problem that I don’t know where to begin.

Let’s start with the obvious:
– You can be on your toes as long as your hips are on your heels. Keep your hips over your heels, don’t let the hips collapse forward that you’re on your toes.
– Do not let your head go past your toes. Many guys go off-balance when coming up on their toes and start compensating for it by having their head go forward and the hips back, or vice versa–the hips forward and head back. You have to be careful of this and see how it’s affecting you.
– Don’t jump. Even if you come up on your toes, you have to keep your body down on the ground. The hips should stay down instead of being raised. Now this doesn’t mean that the hips don’t lift…not at all…but the hips need to be connected to the ground when you elevate them.

I’ll stop here for now as I fear this is already too technical. If you still find yourself having a hard time staying balanced while on your toes, there’s a good chance you’re failing at one of those major points here. It’s also a good ideea to know that you should eliminate pushing battles with your opponents if you’re gonna be “on your toes” all the time. Notice how the boxers that move around a lot do not stay grounded and take shoes or push back against their opponents. It’s because you’ll always lose that battle. Being on your toes is better for running and touching. If you want to throw hard or push back, you gotta ground a little. And this requires more skill to do if you have less surface area of your feet touching the ground.

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Jose April 11, 2014 at 11:00 am

Thank you , I really dont know what you mean by hips staying down . Do you mean you have to bend your knees more if your gonna be on your toes ? Or do you mean to make your hips feel heavy , sometimes on the heavy bag I could find a very good stance in wich I could stay balanced on my toes , and trow and twist very good with every punch. It makes my hips feel heavy but I feel s olid & balanced like that . But I cant do it in sparring , I just kinda loose it . The really experienced guys look so heavy in there , even this one pure boxer that I know . He’s muscular and is always so balanced , he looks like a tank in there but he could hop around like nothing and counter his opponents all night so easily .

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Johnny N July 13, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Ahhh, it means not to jump your hips off the ground. You don’t have to bend your knees more (if anything, that makes it worse). Of course things are always easier in training than in a real fight. Work more on sparring. This will help you to find balance while having to be in constant movement.

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