Boxing Terminology: Learn Boxing Lingo for Beginners

FightCamp - Boxing Terminology for Beginners

If you want to train like a boxer, you need to know how to speak like a boxer. Here’s a boxing glossary of boxing terms and definitions to get you started.

Published: January 22, 2023

Topics: Boxing, Training

Author: Emma Comery

Boxing Terminology

So you decided to throw your first punch but your coach or trainer is using lingo you just don’t understand. Not to worry, we’re here to help you learn basic boxing terms so you can walk the walk and talk the talk!

What are the Stances in Boxing?

A foundational question! Before you can throw a punch, you have to know where to throw it from. There are two common stances in boxing:

  • Orthodox Stance – Standing with your left foot farther out in front of your right foot

  • Southpaw Stance– Standing with your right foot farther out in front than your left foot

What are Boxing Combinations?

When it comes to heavy bag workouts, partner training, or fighting, the key to strong boxing is unique boxing combinations or series of individual punches strung together strategically to distract your opponent and find an opening for that knockout shot. 

Now, a good combination doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, most of the combinations used in the boxing ring stick to the basics…2- or 3-punch combinations that get the job done without forcing you to overcommit and risk getting counter-punched by your opponent. 

Boxing Punches

To build your own powerhouse combinations, practice these 7 punches individually, then try stringing them together in ways that feel fun! 

  • Jab – From your fighting stance, throw your lead fist straight ahead, fully extending your arm to connect with your target at your first two knuckles. If you fight in Orthodox Stance, you will jab with your left hand. If you’re in Southpaw Stance, use your right hand.

  • Cross – From your fighting stance, throw your rear fist (usually your dominant hand) straight down the line just like your jab. 

  • Lead Hook – It looks just like it sounds! Raise your lead arm in a hook shape so that your elbow is parallel to the floor. Shift your weight to your lead foot and pivot your energy through your lead foot, hip, torso, and shoulder. Keeping your arm level, throw your punch and connect your fist to the bag like you’re holding a cup of coffee. 

  • Rear Hook – A Rear Hook is a mirror image of a Lead Hook. This time, shift your weight to your rear foot, pivot, and throw your punch with your rear hand, aiming for where your opponent’s head would be. 

  • Lead Uppercut – Instead of a straight or hook punch, throw a lead punch upwards at a slight angle (aiming just beneath the chin). These are most effective when they’re fast, powerful, and surprising! 

  • Rear Uppercut – Different hand, same zing! Throw your rear hand hard and fast at a vertical angle to hit right under the chin.

  • Bodyshot – All the punches above are head punches… BUT they can easily be used to do damage to the body, as well. To turn a Jab, Cross, Hook, or Uppercut into a bodyshot, simply bend your knees and drop levels to deliver your punches at the torso (front and sides). 

Boxing Movements

Strong boxing starts with smart footwork, which refers to all the various leg and foot movements boxers use to keep their balance, further or close the distance, control space, create new angles, and force their opponent into a vulnerable position. From a defensive standpoint, a moving target is a harder target! Try these two boxing movements to keep your opponent on their toes:

  • Bob and Weave – Bend at the knees to move your body in an up-and-down motion. When your opponent throws a point, move your head in a V-motion to avoid them.

  • Boxer Bounce – An object in motion tends to stay in motion, so keep those feet moving! When you’re in your boxing stance, alternate your weight between your back leg and front leg in a quick-shifting motion.

Boxers also use head movements and torso movements to avoid being struck, and feints (mock punches or movements to distract your opponent from your real attack) to catch their opponent off guard. Next time you’re sparring with a partner, try these two boxing movements to avoid getting hit by your opponent:

  • Shoulder Roll – Bring your lead shoulder to your chin and turn your hips away from the punch, using your shoulder as a shield. Your opponent’s punch will slide harmlessly off your shoulder. 

  • Slip – A slip is an avoidance head movement, which is a fancy way of saying “dodging a punch.” When you slip a punch, lean and twist in one direction just enough to take your head off the “punching line” while maintaining your balance and protecting your face with your gloves.

Boxing Training

Now that we’ve talked about boxing combinations and boxing movements, let’s talk about how to apply them in boxing training. Here are the basic foundational types of boxing training:

  1. Shadowboxing – Sparring with an imaginary opponent (often in a mirror) to practice boxing technique with zero equipment. Shadowboxing is an unbeatable way to master the foundations of boxing and hone your technique. 

  2. Bag Work – This is your heavy bag workout! Bag work is usually structured in 4, 6, 8, or 10 rounds, on a hanging or free-standing heavy bag.

  3. Mittwork – Usually executed by a trainer, mittwork involves using pads and mitts to present targets to a boxer to practice techniques and combinations. 

  4. Sparring – Sparring is a live-action simulation of a fight with a real, live partner to prepare you for a boxing competition. You should only spar with proper safety equipment (mouthpiece, headgear, cup, etc).  

  5. Roadwork – This is training done on the road or the track. This includes not only running or jogging, but footwork drills (repetitive training activities) to improve your endurance, speed, and agility. Check out these roadwork drills to add to your boxer training.

Heavy Bag Training

Bag Work comes with its own phrases you should take note of. You’ll definitely hear these phrases from the Trainers when you’re training on the free FightCamp app!

  • Burnout – A Burnout round is a round of repetitive, non-stop focused movements on the heavy bag. For example, you could do a hook shot burnout round where you throw nothing but lead and rear hooks as hard as you can for a full minute. 

  • Coast – Coasting is repeating a combination (like a jab-cross) nonstop but at a slower and steadier pace. Like an active recovery, you typically Coast between bouts of higher-intensity work. 

  • Powercoast – Power + Coast = Powercoast. Keep your combination slow and steady, but put all your power behind those punches.


Arguably the most overlooked and underrated boxing term you need to know? Recovery Day! Recovery Day is a day off from formal training. This time is essential to let your muscles heal from the good “damage” you do to them when you train. That being said, a rest day doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to get off the couch. In our interview with FightCamp Trainer Coach PJ, he recommends a walk on the beach or an easy bike ride to get your endorphins and the fresh air without overtaxing your body. 

Now that you’re armed with these boxing terms, grab your gloves, and let’s get to work!  

Talk and Train Like a Fighter

Take your workouts to the next level and train like a fighter with the at-home connected fitness solution used by world champion boxers Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather. FightCamp has everything you need to work out on your schedule, with premium boxing equipment and hundreds of on-demand strength, conditioning, kickboxing, boxing, core, and recovery classes led by real fighters. 

As Mike Tyson said - “FightCamp is the next level of training!”

Emma Comery

Emma Comery is a freelance writer, working toward her MFA in Nonfiction at Old Dominion University. She fell in love with Thai Boxing during the pandemic, and regularly trains at her local UFC gym.

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