Head movement is a must in boxing. You can’t expect to block and parry all the punches coming at you. You need the ability to evade some of them as well. Protecting your head in a fight is of utmost importance. For serious practitioners, head movement is a standard prerequisite to competing at the highest level.
Furthermore, as a fighter, you have to make sure that your most delicate asset is kept away from an opponent’s punches. You don’t want to be taking too many shots in the head, if any. So head movement is crucial.
What’s the secret to great head movement? It all comes down to becoming familiar with the different head movement techniques and actually honing those skills in training. Becoming a master at head movement won’t happen overnight, so be prepared to train your head movement skills every day of your boxing journey.
If you’re serious about improving your head movement in boxing, we’ve come up with a few drills you should incorporate into every training session.
Today, Evolve Daily shares five boxing head movement drills for beginners.
Hands down, one of the best ways to train head movement is through shadowboxing. Shadowboxing allows you to practice your technique and form against an imaginary opponent as if you were in a real fight. It’s essentially fighting your shadow, hence the term.
In this sense, it’s perfect for drilling head movement. You imagine your opponent throwing different kinds of punches, and move your head accordingly. It’s the perfect way to train your head to move and react to various attacks.
The best way to shadowbox is to do so in front of a large mirror. By observing yourself and your movements, particularly your head movement, you can gauge on the spot if your technique is on point. This will allow you to make adjustments where necessary. Proper technique is crucial to your game, so any way you can tighten things up is great.
Generally, you will want to practice two types of head movement, circular and angular head movement. Circular head movement consists of your longer movements, including weaving and rolling patterns. Angular head movement includes shorter, sharper movements like bobs, slips, ducks, and cuts.
2) Light Sparring
Light sparring with a friend or training partner is great for practicing head movement. For one, you don’t need to get in the ring, and there’s no risk of taking any damage. You and your friend throw punches with no power behind them, just a little speed and all form and technique. The goal is to practice throwing punches and moving your head to avoid punches at the same time.
As a beginner, you should try to get as many light sparring rounds as you can. This will help prepare you for the real thing.
Practice moving your head early in your boxing journey so that it becomes a habit. The more you work on head movement, the better you will get, until the time arrives that head movement becomes second nature to you.
Furthermore, light sparring is a lot of fun and will help you implement and hone your techniques.
3) Tennis Ball
This drill requires a training partner or coach. Stand with your back to the wall as your partner attempts to throw a tennis ball at your head. Your job is to use technical boxing head movement to evade the tennis ball. After your partner catches the tennis ball, it should be thrown right back. Repeat this drill for three to six rounds.
The speed of the tennis ball will mimic the speed of an opponent’s punches. This is a fantastic unorthodox head movement drill that will teach you how to move your head reactively, which is very important in a fight.
Improving your reaction times will help you avoid punches just as they are about to land. Against aggressive opponents who like to throw punches in bunches, having fast reaction times is crucial to your defense.
The tennis ball drill is also a great way to train hand-eye coordination.
4) Slip Cord Drills
The slip cord is mainly used to train footwork, but it can also be used to practice head movement. A slip cord is a piece of flexible fabric, usually long hand wraps, or an elastic material specifically made for this purpose that is tied to two ends, usually poles or gym equipment, or the ring ropes.
Position yourself at one end of the slip cord and in your usual boxing stance. The cord should rest gently above your lead shoulder. The goal now is to move along the slip cord, forward and backward, with the proper footwork. As you move, you should be throwing punches and combinations, blocking and parrying.
Training head movement with the slip cord is also ideal. You can bob and weave, duck and roll under, transitioning back and forth between both sides. This teaches you how to move your head while moving, which is an essential skill in boxing.
5) Foam Pool Noodles/Mitts with Trainer
Last but not least, work with your trainer to practice head movement. It’s one of the best ways to train yourself to move your head.
Boxers train head movement traditionally in mitt sessions because trainers can mimic an opponent’s punches with the focus mitts. This allows you to practice moving your head exclusively in reaction to real attacks. This can also be incorporated into your boxing combinations. That means movement like bobbing and weaving, ducking and rolling under, can all be practiced on the mitts.
In addition, your trainer can also use foam pool noodles in place of focus mitts. Pool noodles are lightweight and move faster than focus mitts. This will help you improve not only your head movement but also the speed at which you move your head and react. Pool noodles are also relatively inexpensive and are widely available.
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