Boxing is one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports. It can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even so, many people flock to learn how to box due to a number of reasons from getting into shape to simply having a strong desire to become a professional.
Regardless of your reasoning behind wanting to learn, as a beginner, there are a number of things you should know. Below we tackle some helpful tips that will hopefully steer in the right direction.
Tip #1: Understand the Safety Gear
If you lack the proper equipment in boxing, you will get hurt. Beginners need to be drilled on the safety gear that comes with the territory:
- Hand wraps: Before any boxer slides on those gloves, they wrap their hands. It both protects the muscles, tendons, and bones in the hands while providing support to the wrists. In training, you can wear whichever wrap suits you best whether they are standard cotton wraps, Mexican wraps, or even gel gloves. In competition, however, you will wrap with gauze and tape.
- Gloves: What may be the best gloves is largely based on personal preference. There are a few different types of gloves as well depending on what you want to do. For example, bag gloves have decent padding for protection with a flat surface, whereas sparring gloves are heavier with a thick striking surface. For beginners, those two types of gloves are standard to have in your arsenal.
- Headgear: This padded helmet is typically worn by amateurs. Although it doesn’t protect well against concussions, it does provide adequate protection against swelling and cuts. When you’re just starting out, it may be wise to wear headgear, especially if you have yet to become accustomed to blocking.
- Mouth guard: Another important piece of protection is the mouth guard. Without it, you are risking serious damage to your gums, teeth, and jaw. You also increase your chances of a concussion. Mouth guards are easy to come by, and there is a variety out there, so try some out and see what you’re more comfortable with.
Tip #2: Learn the Fundamentals
Boxing is not just something you can pick up overnight. It doesn’t just consist of punching and blocking. To learn how to box, you must learn the fundamentals of boxing. In other words, you need to comprehend basic stance and footwork.
The basic boxing stance is comfortable, yet strong. Your elbows will be kept in and your hands kept up. Have your chin pointing down at all times to better protect it. As for your feet, keep them about a shoulder width apart and turned at a 45-degree angle. Never align your feet together; keep your lead heel lined up with your rear toe.
Over time, you can adapt your stance; many professionals do, and some have even switched stances in the middle of a fight. However, it can be difficult, so stick to the basic stance as you’re in the learning stages.
When it comes to footwork, it is just as important as your stance. You must always keep moving as to not provide your opponent with an easy, stationary target. Remain on the balls of your feet and you should move easier. Do not cross-step or else you will become off-balanced. Focus on the step-drag (step with lead foot, drag with rear foot) to keep your weight grounded.
It can take some time to master the fundamentals, but it can be done best through consistent practicing. When you train whether it is in the ring with a sparring partner or alone with a heavy bag or while shadowboxing, focus on these fundamentals. Take a look at yourself in the mirror to get a better picture.
Tip #3: Know Basic Offensive/Defensive Moves
You may think you know how to throw a powerful punch or bob-and-weave to get away from your opponent, but many beginners are thrown for a loop once they face a sparring partner. The greatest boxers always learned the basics in offense and defense prior to entering the ring.
When it comes to the basic offensive moves, learn the common punches: jab, cross, hook, and uppercut. The jab is a short punch meant to either keep an opponent away or serve as distraction to set up a combination. A cross is delivered by the stronger hand with your shoulder giving it greater power, while the hook has a sweeping delivery. Lastly, the uppercut is an upward blow that’s best use up close.
Focus on utilizing proper form when throwing a punch. Once you grasp the basics, then you can worry about developing combinations.
As for defense, you should learn some of the standard evasive moves: parry, block, bob-and-weave, and slip. A parry is the most basic of them all; you just slap your opponent’s strikes as they come. The block is a given as you’re not avoiding contact, just taking it all in with your gloves. Bob-and-weave involves bending your legs and arching out of reach. The slip has you swiftly rotating your shoulders and hips out of the way of a punch.
There are numerous of ways to go about training these common moves so that you learn how to best use them. Head for the heavy bag to unleash as much as you want without holding back, or try out the speed bag to work on your reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Shadowboxing does wonders as well. When you’re ready, go with a training partner to get a better feel of it. You can spar or use focus mitts; either way can help teach you the basic moves.
Tip #4: Invest in a Serious Training Regimen
A boxer is nothing if they don’t properly train. If you want to truly box, then you have to take conditioning seriously. Boxing is demanding and exhausting; your body has to be ready to undergo such punishment.
There is a number of training equipment that will best serve you in developing a serious exercise regimen. A few of them include the following:
- Punching Bags: A variety of punching bags exists for different goals (e.g. heavy bag, speed bag, double-end bag, etc.). These bags will become your best friend while training. They can help you work on form, practice your moves and build up combinations, and provide an incredible overall workout. Always protect your hands when using the bags, however, as it is insanely easy to injure yourself on them, especially the heavy bag.
- Jump Rope: This simple, cheap equipment is powerful in its own right. Everyone who wants to box should be making good use of jump rope exercises. You can work on your footwork, balance, and conditioning. They serve you well in helping you warm up/down or to complement the rest of your exercise.
- Weights: Weight training will help you improve your overall strength. Be careful with how much weight training you incorporate though as you don’t want to become too stiff in your training. Good weight training focuses on the likes of weighted squats, pull-ups, and crunches.
A good training regimen should also have running of some sort whether that be on a treadmill or outside. Running is heavily advised as it improves cardiovascular endurance, the strength in your legs, and your lung capacity. All of those are needed if you want to last in the ring.
Also, focus on sparring or having someone use mitts. These provide a tough exercise while also helping to teach you the fundamental moves.
Tip #5: Ask for Help
This is perhaps the simplest and easiest tip of all, but it is maybe the most important one: just ask for help. There is no better way to truly learn about boxing than by learning from someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Who you surround yourself with from trainers to just a friend you like to spar with can determine how well you grow in your boxing endeavors. Your progress will only be delayed if you always stuck to yourself. So, don’t be afraid to get out there, admit that you are a beginner, and ask for guidance.
When you want to learn how to box, you are taking a leap into something amazing. Your body and mind will be put through challenging obstacles you never faced before. It’s with our hope that the above tips help make that plunge a little less daunting and a little more exciting as it will all be worth it in the end.