How to Get Better Head Movement in Boxing
Head movement in boxing is one of the most impressive aspects of a boxing match. These seemingly small movements make punches miss the opponent and hit air, with the appearance of little effort. Of course, anyone who has tried to employ good head movement against a seasoned boxer knows that it is anything but effortless, and requires a ton of specialized training to learn. You may be wondering how boxers train their head movement. Since it can be hard to figure out how to get better head movement, today, I want to share my favorite drills for training head movement so that you too can float like a butterfly.
3 Boxing Head Movement Drills
The 5 Point Pivot Drill
This first boxing head movement drill I do every morning without fail doubles as a perfect warm-up and is incredible for getting your body used to moving with minimal energy expended. To do this head movement drill, get into your boxing stance. Then slip to whichever side you prefer, making sure not to let your chin cross your knee. From there you have 5 options:
Pivot out, resetting the drill to the start (avoiding pressure and perhaps taking a better angle on your imaginary opponent)
Weave under to the other side (to avoid hooks)
Pull back/sway (good for avoiding uppercuts)
Double dip (duck further that way to avoid a catch shot, ALWAYS follow this with an immediate big pivot or weave)
Throw a punch (it's important that defense and offense are fluid)
Keep mixing up what side you start on and what options you go to until they all start to flow together and take it slow. This is all about smooth, precise motion. The goal here is to get to a state where any option feels like it can lead to any other option without much actual thought based solely on reaction.
Frame and Shoot Drill
I cannot stress enough how important good offense is to good defense. Without a threat to make them stop coming, it does not matter how good your head movement is you will get caught. This simple boxing dodge drill is a great and simple way to practice using head movement to set up punches that will make your opponent think twice about pressing.
Get in your boxing stance (a big mirror is great here but not necessary) with a high and tight guard.
From there slip, duck, or weave and stay in the position for a bit, feeling out where your center of gravity is.
Once you know what feels best, throw a punch from that position.
Unlike the last drill, the goal here is to recognize what punch to throw from the position you’re in and to have it out as quickly as possible. This will help get you used to switching from defense to offense fluidly and taking openings the second you see them.
The Line Drill
I used to dread this boxing head movement training drill so much when I first started out because it is killer on the upper legs, but it’s fantastic for training muscle memory. For this drill, the only boxing head movement equipment you’ll need is a long, straight line to follow (preferably tape at least 10-13 feet). Set up your boxing stance on the far end of the line so that each foot is on one side of it with your back to the length of the line. From there, we follow these steps, never letting your feet cross the line.
The opponent is pressuring with a jab. Slip towards your lead leg, loading up your lead hand.
The opponent tries to catch your slip with a cross. Hop back with a lead check hook, slipping to your rear leg at the same time.
The opponent tries to smother you. Shuffle step back while throwing a cross (or uppercut), returning your head to a neutral position.
Repeat step 1
The goal of this is again to train your body to always naturally move your head when you punch, whether going backward or forward. Speaking of forwards, we’ve reached the end of the line, and now have to go back up. Here are the steps for that half of the drill.
Your opponent is holding his ground. step forward behind the jab, slipping to your rear leg (the inside).
The opponent is retreating but throwing punches. Step forward with a right cross while slipping towards your lead leg, avoiding the opponent’s check jab.
The opponent tries to hop back. Using that conveniently loaded lead hand, hop forward with a check lead hook while shifting weight back to the rear leg, both catching the opponent off balance and again taking your head far out of harm's way
Return to neutral and repeat the sequence
The purpose here is twofold. One is to get you used to one of the most common sequences in all of boxing (1-2-3 or 1-2 smother). The other is to train your body to constantly be in motion whether on offense or defense. It is far easier to adjust a body that is already moving than it is to move a body that is standing still.
Keep Your Head Moving
Head movement in boxing is all about the conservation of momentum and creating opportunities to go on the offensive. It takes a ton of hours of boxing head movement training to get to the point where you can comfortably dodge punches, so do not be discouraged if these movements feel strange or unnatural at first, or if there’s something you get hung up on. Boxing head movement training is some of the most technique-heavy and precise boxing training you can find, so it's only natural that it might take a bit of time to get used to it. As long as you keep at it, it will click eventually as you find out how your body likes to move. Keep moving and remember to always answer the bell!
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