Straight punches are supposed to be faster and longer leaving you less vulnerable than curved punches…but only when thrown correctly.
Somehow I managed to box for years before being taught how to throw a straight punch. I thought I knew how to punch so I was surprised when my trainer showed me why my jab and straight right were actually slightly crooked.
Here’s one little tip to make those punches really straight:
Analyzing Your Straight Punch Technique
How do we know a punch is REALLY straight? There’s more to a straight punch than simply a straight arm. If you do it wrong you’ll lose out on strategic advantages and may even hurt yourself. There’s a way to guarantee that the fist will travel in a straight line and that the power generated is exerting force in a straight line.
Let’s dig in a little deeper to see what makes a straight punch REALLY straight.
The KEY to Straight Punches: Stretch the INSIDE of your arm!
Do you see the subtle difference between both versions of the “straight punch”? Stretching the INSIDE of the arm means stretching with the bicep/chest muscles and reaching forward with the big knuckles. Stretching the OUTSIDE of the arm means stretching with the tricep/back muscles and reaching forward with the small knuckles. Now let’s step back and see how these seemingly tiny differences can affect the way you fight.
CORRECT Straight Punch (stretching the INSIDE of the arm)
Straight punch coming out…
Notice how when I stretch out the INSIDE of my arm, the arm goes straight and almost flicks out of the way…
…making way for an easy RIGHT HAND!
The left hand flicks back home effortlessly and makes room for the right hand to come in. Notice how my chest was stretched while I threw the jab. It’s as though my straight jab was pulling in the straight right. DEVASTATING!
INCORRECT Straight Punch (stretching the OUTSIDE of the arm)
Now let’s try it the “wrong way”. Suppose I throw a straight punch while stretching the outside of my arm…
…this causes the arm to rotate to the inside. Do you see the problem?
What happens here is the arm will most likely curve into a slow recovery (instead of flicking straight back). Because I stretched the outside of my arm, my body rotates away from my opponent making it harder to follow-up with another punch. The fist has even swung inwards further blocking my right hand.
Now some might argue that this extra rotation will make the right hand stronger because it has to swing harder. Well that makes sense but you might appreciate a faster 1-2 from time to time.
WARNING: at the higher levels of boxing, rotating your head off the jab could get you knocked out! The reason why is because your head has to turn back when you throw the right hand. And the best counter-punchers will catch you with a right-cross while you’re head is rotating into it. This is part of the reason why you should avoid turning your jab into a left cross.
Straight Punch Technique – VIDEO
Benefits of Straighter Punches
Good form will deliver more power and reduce the chance of injury. By stretching the inside of your arm and reaching with your big knuckles, you are hitting with a straighter arm. Throwing *crooked* “straight punches” will hurt your hands because the fist swings inwards (even if only slightly) and impacts on the smaller knuckles. This mistake alone is the cause of many common hand injuries for beginners!
The straighter punch arrives faster and has less recovery time because it bounces straight back at you. A *crooked* “straight punch” has that looping effect where it swings off to the side requiring you to spend more energy to recover the hand. By the way: a straighter punch has much less telegraphing making it appear faster to your opponent.
A straighter punch can penetrate your opponent’s defense better. A straight punch can truly penetrate up the middle whereas a slightly curved one gets deflected away. Worst of all, you don’t want a straight punch to over-rotate you so much that it slows down your follow-up punch.
*** Why Do Some Fighters Stretch the Outside of Their Arm?
Some fighters do it because they’re trying to get extra reach or extra power. Others don’t know how to punch and so it’s more natural to swing wide than to punch straight up the middle. The biggest risks of stretching the outside of your arm is landing on the smaller knuckles (instead of the first two), and also that you might be pulling yourself off balance and slowing your follow-up punches.
It’s not improper technique to stretch the outside of your arm when you punch. Just know that this curve your punch slightly.
Final Thoughts on Straight Punches
There’s no right or wrong way to throw a straight punch. The tip I gave is to help you throw straighter and to be more aware of your form. Just know that if you stretch the OUTSIDE of your arm, the straight will most likely curve into a cross. If you want a cross, throw a cross but if you want a straight, throw a straight. I’m here to open your eyes to different technique not change your strategy. The more techniques you know the better.
Some of you may be wondering why it has to be stretching the inside vs the outside. Why can’t you throw a straight punch with both sides even? In theory, it makes more sense to stretch both sides evenly. In reality, your torso naturally rotates your shoulder inwards when you punch so it’s best to counter-act this rotation by stretching the inside to create the “straight punch effect”.
- If you’re new to this straight punching technique, don’t straighten your arm so hard (especially while warming up with shadowboxing). You’ll risk hyper-extending your elbow which hurts like hell.