athlete sparring with a bag
April 11, 2019
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by TheBoxingGear

One of the essential things to learn in boxing is the head movement. As you go through along your boxing career and encounter more skilled and faster opponents, you will also have to level up your skills.

Learning the most effective techniques of moving your head in a match puts you in an advantage. 

Why you need to learn boxing head movement techniques

When your opponent continuously throws punches at you, you can only do so much in terms of blocking.

You can prevent all you want against faster opponents, but the moment you come out of your shell, your opponent is already gone by then.

Also, the more skilled guys will always be closed up, and it is hard to find an opening.  

The only time you can score a punch against an opponent is when he is vulnerable and opened up while throwing punches.

You will not be able to take advantage of that if your hands are used up for defense.

Because of these, you have to learn the proper way of moving your head to miss his punches. Doing this will leave himself wide open.

The more skilled the opponent is, the more punches you will have to throw so that he swings wider each time until you see the opportunity to counter.

The benefits of head movement

  • Your hands will be free which will allow you can counter immediately.
  • Your hands can fire back sooner if there aren't needed for blocking.
  • With the proper motion of the head, you can miss your opponent’s punches, leaving him wide open or falling off balance when they swing at the air.
  • With adequate movement, you can miss your opponent’s punches, leaving them more tied.

Check out this video to learn some of the drills that can help you:

What you need to know about boxing head movements

boxer training with a bag

Before we go through the specific techniques to execute different effective methods, here are first the facts that you need to know about it. 

1. Head movement techniques loosen up the hands

As mentioned, it is essential for you to free up your hands and not always be preoccupied with blocking and parrying.

You can do this by having proper techniques wherein you can dodge your opponent's punches. 

Also, adequate movement of the head allows you to prepare your hands for you to deliver counters on an immediate basis.

When your hands are free, they can fire off punches sooner because they are not being used to block and parry.

2. It makes your opponent more vulnerable.

If you have a great rhythm in movement, you can easily miss your opponent’s punches. 

This can tire up your opponent as it is more draining to punch in the air. When your opponent swings with all their force and hit nothing, it quickly saps their energy.

Another thing about a great movement also is that allows you to miss your opponent’s punches and leave them open and vulnerable.

Imagine your opponent giving out a robust straight punch, and you lose it. It will leave him open and vulnerable to hits.

3. It helps you fight fast opponents.

The more you develop and go higher in your boxing career or training, the more you will also encounter faster and more skilled opponents.

Of course, the quicker your opponents are, the more difficult they are to deal with.

Some opponents are so fast that they cannot be hit just with usual counters. The only way they can be tagged is by giving out simultaneous counters.

The idea is to slip the punch while you are launching your own counter, and this style will catch your faster opponents off-guard.

Boxing head movement techniques

bolo punch 2

Now it is time for you to learn the different styles used you can use in fighting. 

To begin with, no rules are saying that you have to use the common or established movement of the head patterns.

Every boxer has to come up with his own defensive style.

Whatever suits their fighting style and whatever gives them the most significant advantage, that should be their technique.

However, here are the most common techniques which can guide you:

Circular head movement

The easiest thing to do and to teach is the circular movement. It often goes with the natural flow of movement.

Hence, this move makes it easy to conserve energy and also makes it less punishing if you get hit.

You can use circular style to roll with the punches or to slip against the punches you throw.

To make it easier, to do this technique, imagine a circular path of moving your head.

You can roll your head through entirely as you go over and under punches and come back around with counters. 

However, it is more likely that you only use half or a quarter of the circle with each movement. This way, your progress is much more controlled.

Angular head movement

A more advanced technique than the circular is the angular movement, which is a faster and more surprising move.

It is, of course, harder to do, but this technique is more about speed rather than rhythm because you are often moving your head against the punch.

Needless to say, angular movement is good for making quick movements.

To help you have an idea how to do this, imagine moving your head along 2 triangles. The movement will be along these three sides.

grappling dummies

Pull your head quickly along these lines to cut around your opponent’s punches. This technique can be used to slip as soon as possible.

For example, you can move your head from the top point of the triangle. From the top, you can slip your head straight down to the sides.

From the hands, you can slide right back to the top again.

You can also cut your head right through the center to the other side, which is a very daring move but could be useful.

You can also move your head along the lower triangle to get under punches.

From the sides, you can cut to the other side, or you may slip to the bottom to get under blows. From the bottom, you can pull my head up to any side you want.

Which style to use?

Which style or technique to use depends on each boxer. Whatever works for him should obviously be used during the competition.

double end bag

However, in general, you may need to be skilled on angular movement in fighting faster opponents.

On the other hand, when fighting volume puncher, you may need to use more circular more often.

Angular movement can be more advantageous against straight punches. On the other hand, circular motion can be more useful against more full blows.

Moreover, boxers tend to be more circular when they are trying to engage guys in a brawl.

Whereas, they tend to be angular when they are trying to potshot the opponent and not give the opponent any chances to touch them.

You can also mix both styles. You may cut to one side, but roll to the other, and then cut back and forth or roll over and under again.

Again, each movement depends on the situation and the style of the boxer.

Every skilled fighter has his favorite patterns for going against aggressive opponents. After all, only he knows what the most effective method for him is. 

Boxing head movement drills

In every sport, practice is very essential. This is the only way you can be better in your craft. Same with creating your own techniques, you must undergo drills to find what works for you and how to execute them.

To help you with his aspect, here are some of the way by which you can practice the movements of your head.


In shadowboxing, only one person is required to participate. In doing this, you basically throw punches at no one in particular. 

To be more effective and to see how you go, check yourself in the mirror and flow.

Keep throwing punches and moving your head, imagining you are in a fight until you get the rhythm.

After a while, you will find a natural rhythm in your body, and your head will naturally bounce around or slide to different spots easily. You won’t have to force it to move in specific directions.

Slow Sparring

For the more experienced fighters, slow sparring might be the best way to develop these movements.

Find a sparring partner and observe how they throw punches and learn to slip around these punches by executing the right actions of the head.

Also, remember that it is essential for you to find your rhythm before doing slow sparring.

You do not want to just move your head all over the place during sparring. In this note, you may have to practice shadowboxing first.

Back to slow sparring. If you are going to do this, remember to focus on seeing the punches. 

Don’t worry about trying to miss all the punches. What is more important is that you expose yourself to the new angles.

After you become aware of every punch, you can then start moving your head to a rhythm.

Then, you can finally start trying to move it in a way that actually avoids punches.

So, remember three things: maintain eye contact, establish a rhythm, and try to avoid punches. One of the most common errors committed by beginners is going straight to trying to avoid punches.

They end up breaking eye contact, breaking their rhythm, and getting into weird and awkward positions.

Establishing a fighting rhythm will help you attack and defend at the same time.

Focus mitts

Another way to practice a good movement is by training on mitts. In doing mitts, you will learn the basics to moving your head like how to slip a jab or slip a right, and even how to roll under punches.

A great thing about doing the mitts is that you can work both on your defense and at the same time, on your offense.

You can also use mitt work to simulate and focus on evading specific punches such as the southpaw left cross, hooks to the body, etc.

In training with mitts, focus on being relaxed and natural, and not only how heavy you should throw your punches.

Stay comfortable and concentrate on getting that rhythm. If it means hitting with less force, then do it that way.

If it also means slowing down the speed of your combinations so you can develop a steady rhythm of simultaneous offense and defense, then do it. 

Other tips to remember:

  • Try not to think of merely moving your head as a defense technique. If you do, you will worry about the opponent’s punches and get distracted from your movement rhythm.
  • Think of moving your head as a way for you to change your body position. This way you can find a new stance from which to attack from.
  • Remember that you are using movements of your head to move you into a better offensive position and find a spot where you can launch your punches.
  • Always be a step ahead of your opponent. When you pay close attention to your movement, it makes you more aware both offensively and defensively. This makes you a step ahead of your opponent because you are always reacting and reading your opponent's movement.

Wrap up

As mentioned, there is no single boxing head movement technique that every fighter there is must follow.

It is all about the rhythm, feeling yourself in the ring, and focusing on that rhythm as you go along.

A great style is the one that is subtle, clever, and unexpected. It is so much more than just trying to avoid a punch, but being able to do so much using so little and harmonious movement.

There are a lot of disadvantages if you learn the technique that works best for you.

You will not just curl up in the ring in trying to protecting yourself from your opponent’s punches.

You will be able to effectively dodge your opponent’s punches while being able to launch your own.

Practice more often, focus on the cues and the rhythm, and you will eventually have your own boxing head movement technique.

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