Improving your defense is crucial in the sport of boxing and it is sometimes a skill set which gets forgotten about by come forward and more aggressive fighters. By not working on this part of your game you will simply find yourself getting beat up and hit more whilst sparring or competing. It’s like Mike Tyson so famously said:
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
That’s why it’s so important work on your defense so you can stop the amount you will be hit which will result in losing or getting hurt. Now the argument is in boxing that every action is in fact a form of attack. As by having a good defense can help create opportunities for counter punching.
Think about the likes of Pernell Whitaker or Floyd Mayweather Jr, they would single handily glide through some bouts hardly getting hit, but would create attacking opportunities from defense causing their opposition miss or over commit – resulting in them taking more punishment.
In my opinion it’s always better to hit and not get hit, so make sure you do practice defense – that’s the sweet science of boxing!
So, how to improve your boxing defense? If you find yourself getting hit a bit too often, I have put together a list of 6 training methods and equipment you can use which will help improve your defense and counter punching.
1. Shadow Boxing
Now shadow boxing is a brilliant starting point for those that don’t have any equipment or those training on your own. Using this as part of your training regime is something I would recommend for all boxer, but in terms of defense this can really help to improve this area of your game.
Usually when most shadow box you are focusing on offense which is obviously important, but next time you do this take one or two rounds to focus entirely on some of the following:
- Head movement – picture punches being thrown at you
- Practice parrying punches with both hands
- Focus on using your feet to keep on the outside.
- Countering – use a defensive movement before throwing a punch
- Most importantly – visualize while do this!
Although this may seem strange for some people to try at first it is a really will help build up good defensive habits!
I highly recommend you watch this great video Coach Anthony who demonstrates some useful defensive technique to incorporate into your shadow boxing:
2. Pad Work and Partner Drills
In terms of boxing training I honestly feel this is one of the best ways for you to improve your defensive skill set by working on specific mitt/pad work with your coach or friend. Although there is an offensive premise in these drills, your coach or partner can help by throwing back punches to create a defensive situations and movements before you fire back with a counter.
These drills with your coach partner are vital, if you feel your defense is area of weakness, you just need to make sure to ask you coach to work specific scenarios on the pads that require defensive actions.
The other option if you don’t have pads is to team up with a partner and focus on specific defensive actions such parrying, slipping punches and footwork.
Here is great video by Fight Tips who goes through 10 specific drills you can use with a partner – these are a great way for you to improve. Make sure to wear a headguard and mouth guard if you are going to be doing these types of drills:
The Sparbar is a great defensive tool to use as it is a piece of equipment which specifically is aimed to improve your defense. This includes a bar which can spin round at 360 degrees and also includes a padded punch bag at the top for you to throw punches at (to simulate punching to the head and great for practicing counters).
Unlike with lots of other boxing equipment if you punch the spinning bar it will come back and hit you if you do not duck, roll or move away from a distance. Therefore, you are always having to move or react to the bar depending on when and how hard you hit it. This therefore what this helps to improve are your speed, reflexes and movement.
You read my full review here or check out the sparbar in action below:
4. Double-End Bag
The Double-End bag is one of favorite pieces of equipment to use in the gym! First and foremost this mainly helps to improve your timing, reflexes and hand eye coordination which all requires maximum concentration as the bag moves back and forth.
Now in terms of defense, this equipment can help you to improve your defense as you will be doing the following; you can bob and weave as you hit the bag, practice slipping punches and also use foot work to move out the way of the bag after punching it.
Check out below video by Fight Tips who shows you some drills you can try out or why not look at some double-end bag options on Amazon below. (just remember to purchase installation requirements for this.)
5. ‘Cobra’ Reflex Gag
The Cobra reflex bags have really come into the limelight in recent years mainly due to up and coming boxing star Ryan Garcia, who shared his talent using this to his big social media following. The cobra bag is unique in the sense that it is a reflex punch bag that mimics the movement of an actual opponent via the specifically-placed spring – arguably creating even more movement than some double-end bags.
Defensive wise, this will really require a lot of concentration as the bag can will come back and hit you easily, therefore it will require you to slip bag either side, shoulder roll or use foot work to get out the way.
Make sure to check out Ryan Garcia trying this out or check out some options on Amazon.
Finally, there is no better way to see if your defensive training actions are paying off by sparring! Now this point may only apply for those that spar or training to compete currently. However, I can’t stress how important this is f you want to become better defensively in the ring, as you need to try out these actions while against a live opponent trying to throw punches at you.
All the above training methods will help with your muscle memory, but being in the heat or battle in sparring is sometimes the best way to figure out if you have improved in your defensive skills.
After each sparring session make sure to ask the coach for tips to improve your defensive, especially if you find yourself still getting hit a lot.
All of these training methods are important to become better defensive fighter and I am a great believer of practice makes perfect. My final recommendation for you is to make sure to watch some true defensive great fighters to see the types of defensive maneuver they do in the heat of battle – learn from the best! Here is a list of defensive boxers I recommend you check out:
- Andre Ward
- Bernard Hopkins
- Floyd Mayweather Jr
- Muhammad Ali
- Pernell Whitaker
- Salvador Sanchez
- Sugar Ray Leonard
- Wille Pep
Finally it’s also important know about all the defensive technique you need learn so make sure to check out my 6 Key Boxing Defensive Techniques blog here.
I hope you enjoyed this boxing training post and hopefully this will help you work on different parts of your boxing defense.
Let me know in the comments below which training method you are going to focus on or needs improvement.
For more boxing training advice visit the link here
Thanks for reading!