While people like to focus on the punches of boxing, the foundation of all the movements in boxing, from head movement to punches to even footwork, starts with the placement of the fighter's feet. A fighter's stance is what allows him to be effective both defensively and offensively and a sloppy stance has been the downfall of many boxers both amateur and professional.
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That being said that are several different ways in which to place one's feet each with its own advantages and disadvantages. From the straight forward orthodox with your left foot forward and right in the back or in a southpaw boxing stance with the right food in the lead instead to more varied stances to more extreme examples of unique stances.
What are the boxing stances
There isn’t just one kind of boxing stance, in fact, throughout the years' many different boxers have made modifications to the stance to highlight certain attributes, whether that is speed, punching power or something else. The stance naturally starts with the feet, generally in a standard boxer stance will have the boxer put their dominant foot and hand in the rear with their other side taking the lead.
If you’re right-handed like most people and do this is it generally called being in an orthodox stance or simply just orthodox, right-handed boxing stance. If you are left-handed and follow the previously mentioned method you will in up in what is called a southpaw stance.
Of course, there is nothing stopping someone who is right-handed from putting their right side into the lead, thus putting them into a southpaw stance and vice versa for someone who is left-handed. There have been plenty of examples throughout history of fighters putting their dominant hand in front, with great success on top of that. Some of those big names include Vasiliy Lomachenko, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Manny Pacquiao. Some fighters even switch stances in what is known as switch stance boxing.
Of course, when it comes to boxing, there isn’t just one kind of stance. We’ve covered the difference between a southpaw and an orthodox boxing stance, but that is just the most obvious example of different stances. In terms of more specific different ways to comport one's feet a lot more goes into it, including the orientation of your feet, the distance between your feet, your posture and even the positioning of your hands and your head. That being said a lot goes into making a decent boxing position and there isn't just one sole way to place one's feet either, in fact, there are a lot of them.
Different stances in boxing
There are several different ways to stand in boxing and that means more specific orientation of the feet, hands, head and even posture, outside of just which hand and foot are in the lead. A lot of these stances are considered staples of the sport of boxing with several receiving different names so that people can easily pick them out.
Traditional Boxing Stance
The traditional boxing stance is one that we have already covered a little bit here but it deserves to be gone into more detail. The traditional boxing stance is the one that you see the most often in boxing, whether it's on TV or in your local gym. It is likely also what most if not all beginners will be taught on their first day in the gym.
The traditional boxing stance, whether from southpaw or orthodox, will have the fighters with their feet about shoulder width apart with their dominant side in the back and their weaker side in the lead. The toes are both pointed in the same direction generally being slightly out to the direction of the fighter's rear side to aid in pivoting motions.
The feet are placed so that the lead is not directly in front of the other which helps keep your balance and prevent your feet from crossing. Most coaches go with the analogy of standing on two train tracks on or opposite corners of a box to get the right distance between feet, both length and width-wise. There should also be a slight bend in the knees.
When it comes to the upper body, the traditional boxing stance has the fighter generally stand upright with a slight hunch around the upper back and shoulders with both hands around the temples or the chin to protect punches to the head quicker. Sometimes the lead hand is extended outwards slightly to make it easier for the fighter to use their lead hand to punch with it.
The elbows are also kept tucked in and not flared out so that the body of the fighter is not wide open and so they can defend quicker shots to the midsection faster.
This is the stance that you will, without a doubt sees the most in boxing, obviously with some minor variations but most fighters stick to this template and with good reason. It allows for a good mix of defense and offense along with a good level of mobility for footwork and head movement.
The main weakness of the traditional boxing stance is that everyone either uses this stance or has already faced it plenty of times so there are generally no surprises or secrets that one can bring out with it.
Philly Shell Stance
The Philly Shell stance, as the name implies, comes from Philadelphia. This stance is most famously known for being used by the 50 - 0 great Floyd “Money” Mayweather but he is far from the only fighter ever to implement this stance into their game. Other boxers like James Toney and George Benton have used it and even MMA fighters like Booby “The King” Green have used it in that sport, even though it is different from an MMA stance.
This stance might be the best way to place the feet when it comes to dodging punches and deflecting them with just upper body movement. This stance tends to have the legs closer together than the traditional boxing stance. When it comes to the upper body, the most obvious and telltale sign of the philly shell is the placement of the arms.
The rear arm is kept in the same location but generally tighter to the boxer's head than in other guards. The lead arm is then lowered with the hand hovering around the abs and hips of the fighter. Fighters using the philly shell stance will also often lean forward as to bait their opponent to punch them.
This stance might sound counterintuitive to some, as the first thing almost everyone learns in boxing is to keep your hands up. However, if you are more advanced this boxing stance makes sense. The rear hand is used to parry straights and block hooks to the body and head on that side. The lead arm is used to shoulder rolls against punches to that side with the lowered lead arm being used to protect most of the body. This posting also has punches from the lead arm come from a strange angle that most fighters aren’t used to.
With their lead arm being lower this boxer stance also lends itself to easier head movement thanks to the lowered center of gravity. You will frequently see fighters using this stance make excellent use of slick head movement to bob and weave out of the way of their opponent’s punches.
The high level of defense from the shell you create and the head movement required to make this stance work makes this a favoured one of counterpunchers who want to take advantage of their opponent’s over-extending on their punches and getting frustrated.
The Peek-A-Boo stance and style are mostly famous used by Mike Tyson, which he used to tear through pretty much all the heavyweights of his era. This boxing stance is easily recognizable for a few reasons. The main one being how tight this stance is.
Starting from the bottom up, the feet and leg placement in the Peek-A-Boo stance is much tighter than a traditional boxing stance. At times it can almost look like the fighter's feet are standing on the same line in a neutral stance. This way of standing allows for quicker shifting movements.
The posture of this stance is also very hunched over to allow for the trademark side-to-side movement which gives this boxing stance its name. The hands are also kept very tight, both in terms of being together and directly in front of the fighter's chin. This protects the fighter from straight punches and makes it easy to move the hand to block hooks.
The hand placement also helps the boxer to move their head around faster which as we mentioned earlier is a trademark of this stance. There are two main types of head movement done from this stance, the first being straight side to side from the hips and figure eight motions done with the head. Along with the head movement, this stance lends itself to fast-shifting motions that the boxer can use to blitz their opponent.
This stance is generally used by shorter swamer-style boxers that use their speed to catch their opponent off guard from strange angles.
What Is the Best Boxing Stance
After reading that you might be thinking, which boxing stance is the best boxing stance? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to that question. When it comes to boxing, the stance that the boxer chooses to use really depends on them, their style, their personality, their physical attributes and probably most importantly, their personal choice.
For potential boxers looking for a more straightforward answer, you might want to stick with the fundamental traditional boxing stance. This is because this stance is still used by the vast majority of boxers, on both the pro and amateur level. There’s a reason that this stance is a fundamental one, it has all the bases covered while still offering a level of versatility to fighters who want to make their own personal adjustments.
However, with it being so conventional, many fighters will be used to seeing it, thus meaning that any opponents you might face might have an easier time making reads on your stance since they are already familiar with it.
When it comes to the Philly shell stance, the advantage is its built-in impeccable defense, having pretty much all of its bases covered when it comes to protecting a fighter. The ability to use fantastic head movement is also a huge plus, not only from a defense and safety perspective but also from a crowd-pleaser one. The main disadvantage comes mainly from a skill issue. If you don’t have the skills and abilities, such as the reaction time to actually make use of head movement properly.
This stance also doesn’t lend itself to the best footwork as many fighters will root themselves where they are standing to make use of the stance’s footwork. On top of that punching with the lead hand being at such a strange angle is something that not many boxers will be able to do effectively, at least right away.
The Peek-A-Boo stance has a lot of positives that we mentioned earlier, the potential for fast footwork and head movement which in turn help to generate very powerful punches. However this is stance that requires a lot, the fighters that use this stance are generally smaller in stature, which allows them more of an ability to get low and more efficiently avoid punches.
This makes this particular boxing stance not a good option for taller fighters, especially ones that want to use their range, as the placement of the hands and feet lend to getting up close and infighting with their opponent.
There are other boxing stances other than the ones we have mentioned here, all with their benefits and their drawbacks. It's important to play around with your stance as a boxer and find what works for you. If you want to have your hands high or not or if you want to play from distance or from up close.
Your game, your physical attributes and what skills you want to highlight are all factors that you need to think about when it comes to your stance because all of your skills can only manifest from your boxing stance.
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