Boxing Basics Part II: Stance & Footwork

by A Manly Guest Contributor on June 30, 2010 · 19 comments

in Health & Sports

Image from arwriterphotog

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Chad Howse who is doing a series of posts for AoM on the basics of boxing. Thanks Chad!

In this installment of the “Boxing Basics” series I’m going to cover proper stance as well as a bit of footwork. There are a couple things you want to accomplish in your stance. One, you want to be ready to react, which means having your knees bent in an athletic stance with the weight on the balls of your feet, and two, you want to protect yourself.

Take a look at the tips after the video for some extra info.

Note: The video primarily shows an orthodox stance. If you’re left handed (southpaw) follow the same tips but do the opposite of what’s done in an orthodox stance.



1. Feet a bit wider than shoulder width

If your feet are too wide you might have more balance, but you’ll also lose some power on the dominant hand. Take a look at the stances of a guy like Rocky Marciano versus the stance of a guy like Floyd Mayweather Jr. Marciano was going after the knockout in every fight and had his feet about shoulder width apart, while Mayweather Jr. has a wider stance for balance and movement because of his “score points first and not get hit” mentality.

Also, don’t keep your feet in a straight line; this will take away from your power. Have your feet facing the same direction with your back foot slightly to the side.

2. Make a small target

I say have your back foot slightly out to the side, but don’t go overboard. Notice how you can’t see my whole chest-you want to avoid being square to your opponent, providing as little a target as possible. The less he can see, the less he’s going to be able to hit, which also means keeping your hands up as well.

3. Chin down

You’ll hear it a lot in fights; the announcer will say something like: “He’s throwing punches with his chin in the air,” or, “He got hit right on the button.” So why is this? Well, just above your jaw bone there’s a bony ridge on either side of your head that protects a bunch of nerves. A punch landing on the front of the chin drives the jaw bone into those nerves, causing disorientation and loss of co-ordination that can result in a knockout. So keep your chin down and your hands up.

4. Be in a position to react and throw back

Keep your knees bent with the weight on the balls of your feet. You also want to take small steps; making larger movements with your feet will result in one foot being off the ground for too long. If you’re hit while in the middle of a step, you’ll be off balance and not in the position to slip, or plant and throw a punch back.

5. Elbows in

As much as you want to protect your chin and head, you also want to protect your body and throw straight punches. Keeping your elbows in tight to your body will allow you to get them in a position to block punches to the torso as well as help keep your punches straight.

Do you have any other tips for proper stance and footwork? Share them with us in the comments section.
Boxing Basics Part I: How to Wrap Your Hands
Boxing Basics Part II: Stance & Footwork
Boxing Basics Part III: Defense
Boxing Basics Part IV: Punching – Jab & Cross
Boxing Basics Part V: Punching – Hook & Uppercut
Boxing Basics Part VI: Punching Combinations


Chad Howse is a amateur boxer and personal trainer who’s passionate about helping clients achieve satisfying results in a short amount of time, so they can get the most out of life. For fitness tips and inspiration check out his blog, Chad Howse Fitness, sign up to get two free ebooks, and subscribe to his RSS feed,

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Martin June 30, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Nice video, Chad. I like that you put some time on footwork, and showed the importance of small steps. Lots of new guys, everything is so BIG. Big, long, reaching steps that leave them exposed or out of position. Look forward to the rest of your series here.


2 Playstead June 30, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Footwork is so insanely important when you’re learning how to box. My two big problems were relaxing my shoulders and throwing a picture perfect left hook.

Everyone should take a few boxing classes — great workout.

3 Wayne July 1, 2010 at 12:32 am

Bruce Lee studied Wing Chun and researched boxing and fencing. (Among other arts) Guess what two of the most important aspects to his martial art Jeet Kune Do are? Stance and footwork.

4 Rich July 1, 2010 at 1:31 am

I just saw a kid get absolutely destroyed in a stupid street fight in a McDonald’s parking lot. That sad thing was, with even a basic understanding of boxing (decent footwork and jab-cross), the kid who wound up on waking up on the ground could’ve saved himself a major headache.

5 Rob Glenn July 1, 2010 at 5:57 am

Good stuff. Got to love the sweet science. One thing he showed, but didn’t really discuss; don’t cross your feet. This will give a smart opponent a good chance to catch you in a position you can’t move out of causing confusion and a potential for a lot of uncontested hits. Also I recommend using the Balls of your feet to pivot when moving. If you want to move right pivot off the left foot and step with the right, always in angels as to stay allusive no back and forth. angles and circle around your opponent. This will allow you to avoid punches by bobbing and weaving into them while at the same time closing the bridge to set up combination. I would also recommend anyone getting into boxing to study the footwork art of the uppercut. That coiling stance you see old boxers getting their picture taken in. If you can learn to move into this stance and unleash the uppercut, you will definitely earn “respect” from your opponent.

6 Mike at The Big Stick July 1, 2010 at 7:34 am

I’ve been boxing for a couple of years. Over that period I’ve decided that I like to box with a strong-hand-forward stance (some would call an unorthodox stance). That means that my power hand (my right) is forward. My jabs connect faster and it allows me to generate more power in my weak arm (my left) because it travels farther before connecting. I was very self-concious about it until I started doing some research and found out a lot of martial artists prefer this stance as well. It’s also great for MMA because acknowledges the role wrestling plays in the sport. Wrestlers always shoot for takedowns with their strong foot forward.

7 Charlie July 1, 2010 at 8:49 am

Footwork is everything! I came out of a kickboxing/mma background before I got into my present art, kendo, and in both footwork and stance is the foundation of everything. Nice series, Chad! I have been thinking for some time that boxing is, almost – almost – one of those things that you can learn in a short time BUT spend a lifetime wrking on the basics and that it’s something that can be added to anyone’s fitness regimen with a little bit of instruction. Even if you never spar of compete, being able to shadowbox and pound the bag is a good thing to have in your bag of skills.

8 Sam Spade July 1, 2010 at 10:11 am

Chin down is a huge one. I make it a point whenever I workout to keep my chin down. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that as wear down your chin will start drifting up.

9 Jose July 1, 2010 at 10:19 am

Great video straight and too the point. I teach the same fundamentals on day one to all my introductory clients and hammer them in every class I coach.

My only complaint you shot this video in you garage! Great passion for the sport. Thanks for doing it. Butt get out to the gym for the next installment where ever you train would probably love the exposure. I think boxing fundamentals is so important I’m giving you an invite. IF you’re in the VA Beach area feel free to step in and shoot the next installment at HTC.

10 David B. July 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Often the trainer I used to work with would make the newer boxers hold an orange under the chin during workouts and light sparing to keep us conscious of keeping our chin down.

11 Chad July 1, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Hey guys thanks for the comments.

@Martin – footwork and small steps are a definite must. Take a look at a guy like Tyson for an example of small steps, footwork, and not getting caught up in the air. You want your feet on the ground at all times so you can react and throw back.

@Rob Glenn – great points, thanks for adding those in.

@Mike at the Big Stick – I’ve tried that as well but never felt comfortable. One of my favorite fighters uses this stance – Miguel Cotto – and I can definitely see the benefits of it for both boxing and mma.

@Charlie – I totally agree. It’s a great thing to have in your repertoire of skills. Even if you’re not planning on competing, get a few lessons in with someone that’ll critique your technique and make sure you’ve got the basics down pat.

@David B. – ya my trainer did the same – either a tennis ball or rolled up hand wraps.

@Jose – I actually did a few takes at my gym + boxing gym but the audio just wasn’t good enough, I needed a quieter place and my garage is the only thing I could come up with. I’ll give it another shot at the weight room for the next one. Thanks for the invite! If I were in the area I’d take you up on that for sure.

12 Personal Training Melbourne July 9, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Great post, before i start any boxing drills with my clients I always make sure their footwork is correct. Definately a great way to get the punching technique correct too and gives an all body work out.

13 alon July 11, 2010 at 2:41 am

shouldnt your heels be up so it will look like your trying to hold a ball between your knee caps?

14 Bryan July 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Chad, great post. Watching the video, reading the post and also the comments reminded me of some things I need to focus on more with my students–especially the aspect of small steps. Thanks a lot.

15 Jordan July 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Referring to your feet, how should they be pointed? Should both be pointed 45 degrees out, forward, to the side, etc.?
And in reference to a square, would standing on the opposite corners be the angle you would want to maintain?

16 Greg Hall August 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Your stance and guard are your foundation for everything.
Because of that they are your confidence.
Whenever you get out of position always look to get back to your stance before doing anything else.
Keeping your chin down as well as hiding your chin/jaw also creates an angle where the power can be dissipated a little. A little tip I give for that is to look through the eyebrows if you can see the eyebrows your chin is down.
You should work on keeping your hands up and chin down while punching and evading.
There are basic pointers and guidelines for hand positions but the key is if you are aware where your hands are and at all times and are confident you can block punch counter etc then anywhere up is good.

A good rule of thumb with footwork is to move the foot that is closest to the direction you want to go in first so to the left, left – right etc. Also however far the first foot moves the trailing foot should move the same amount to keep the base/ the balance the same.

With a good balanced stance don’t let your knee past your foot or shoulders come past the knee, and backwards don’t let your hips go past your heals.

A little drill I have new practitioners of the game do is to lean in all directions while stood in the stance till they find the balance point in them areas and then they know never to go past that point.

17 fahad February 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm

how to apply hook and uppercuts in southpaw i mean and my opponent cant think that some very different…??

18 Paul T May 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Enjoyed the read, thanks. We’re seeing a huge increase in participation numbers for boxing here in Australia, anybody else seeing similar elsewhere?

19 Hollewood Ray Montez October 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Also be relaxed and patient and speed kills when your, your fastest when your relaxed

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