Why can’t I keep my hands up in boxing?

In boxing, the defense is as important as the offense is. You can fire the most damaging moves only if you have strong defense strategies within your skillset. The offense may weaken your opponent but it's the best defense that wins the championships. It is of great significance to work hard to improve your defense skills along with your offensive skills. For this reason, it is the priority for coaches to teach boxers to keep their hands in front of their faces. Keeping the hands up saves you from the counter-attack. It helps you in blocking the incoming punches and minimizes the damaging effect of the opponent’s hit.

Despite realizing the fact that it is hard for some beginners and even for some boxing experts to keep their hands up. It may be either because the boxer is a newbie or he is focusing on offense so much that he forgets to keep his guard up. It becomes a struggle to remember and practice this very basic skill.

There is only one small tip you need to follow and it will save you from your coach always yelling to never let your guard down. Surprised? Well yeah, you must be!

All you need to do is lean your upper body slightly forward. It may sound very simple & easy but it has great logic. Just practice leaning your body forward and your hands will stay up to your face automatically. Wondering how it can be so simple?

Well, it is all about balance. The position of arms significantly contributes to your body balance. The main idea is:

  • Leaning back results in your arms and hands going forward and ultimately dropping down to maintain the balance of your body
  • Leaning forward results in your arms and hands going up and ultimately back to maintain the balance of your body.


The science behind the trick

Keep your head in front of your shoulders and your shoulders in front of your hips. You don’t have to lean forward a lot just very slightly. While watching the fight videos of your favorite boxer, try to notice that experienced boxers are confident enough to lean forward into their opponent’s space. They tend to make moves so that they may create a dominating psychological effect on their opponent. Firstly, it helps to keep your guard up. Secondly, such a body posture helps them to maintain their balance and their guard.

However, newbie boxers make the very mistake to keep their head back. It can either be because they are scared to get a blow on their head or maybe they are already being pushed away on the upper body. They are more likely to stay away. This approach takes them down as it gets them off guard. More importantly, it causes the fighters to lose their balance.

Let's talk about some physics. The rules justify the tip as when you will lean backward and you will try to resist falling on your back. To counter the body's backward momentum your hands will naturally travel forward off your face. You can understand it well if you ever have fallen backward from a chair.


Some advantages of leaning forward

  • If you are leaning forward, it will automatically keep the chin tucked. Therefore, it is more likely that you will receive hits on the forehead in this position.
  • It is easier to maintain balance and much easier to push the opponent backward.
  • The body movement is much feasible and easy especially feints are easier to launch.
  • Leaning forward gives you higher speed and better reach.

There are some points to consider as well such as it is generally thought that leaning forward makes a boxer more vulnerable than leaning backward. I say that this is not the absolute case. Technically uppercuts require you to be too close to land. Considering the fact, if you manage proper distance and do not overdo the forward lean, it will be perfectly fine. Again I would emphasize by leaning forward I mean to lean forward very slightly so that you can keep your balance and your guard up.

Reading all the good about leaning forward, you must be wondering what if I just lean back. Quite natural!

Let me tell you what happens when you lean back

  • You will be vulnerable because your chin is in the air. This could be very dangerous for you. Taking punches on the chin is not an easy job.
  • Your front arm will do no good for you. You will be able to throw jabs only and with very low power. No power punches, no hooks. Sounds scary?
  • Moreover, you cannot even count on your back arm. It is too slow to attack and it would require a large weight shift which will leave you vulnerable ultimately.
  • It is easier for your opponent to push you backward and disturb your balance. More likely you will be wobbling on your feet backward!
  • Body movements become too difficult. For defense, you can only lean back, even more, step back or blocking.


Some other tips to make it easier!

Generally, while talking to someone we are used to facing the head of the other person. However, you cannot stick to it in boxing. It is suggested for you to look through the eyebrows! Why?

This trick magically keeps your chin tucked and your head slightly bent downwards while looking at your opponent. Practice looking through the eyebrows while you shadowbox, hit the bag, or practicing any of the other punching drills. Once you succeed in embedding this trick in your muscles you will witness a great difference with your defense. You will be able to see your opponent with your chin tucked in!

Last but not the least, do not ever make a blunder of wearing your headgear low. I have witnessed many newbies who make the same mistake to cover their forehead. If you have chosen to be a boxer, muster up some courage and take the plunge!

Wear your headgear at a proper position so that it may not block your vision and make lift your chin.