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How to stay relaxed in boxing?

How to stay relaxed in boxing?

For many beginners, being fluid is a challenge in boxing. It's easy to let the intense nature of the sport make you nervous and reactive. This creates tension and rigidity that will not allow you to move freely and will often result in poor position, form and flow.

Relax Your Shoulders and Hips

I think this is where most new boxers go wrong, especially the adults who take an overly logical approach to boxing. Although there are some fundamental rules, the actual application of boxing comes solely from practice and muscle memory. Many new boxers place a huge emphasis on keeping their hands up.

This, of course, is good practice, but since they have no practical experience using a guard, they keep their hands glued to their orbital bones and try to deliver each blow from that position. This is what creates that rigidity.

To overcome this, you need to get comfortable with your guard and make sure your hips and shoulders are relaxed. Yes, you need to keep your hands up for protection, but that doesn't mean they should be glued to the sides of your head. This will make you more square, tire you out faster, and put a lot of stress on your shoulders and traps, which will consequently make you stiff.

Don't Emphasize the Power of Punches Initially

This is one of the easiest ways to get out of shape as a boxing beginner. Everyone wants to have awesome power. It's exciting and who doesn't want to be a knockout puncher?

However, I can almost guarantee that if you don't have the fundamentals down and focus too much on power, you will be stiff and leave yourself exposed. This is because boxing requires you to fight your instincts. Most untrained people stick their chest out when they fight. They make themselves look as big as possible with their chin high in the air and generate power by swinging their punches from the hips and carrying them. This is a horrible strategy and a very easy way to get knocked out.

In boxing, you want to be compact, efficient and precise. If you don't have your guard and hitting form right, just forget about power. I'm not saying don't put strength into your punches, but let it be a secondary thought. Think technique first, precision second, speed third, and power last. Overemphasizing speed or power too early could easily be a contributing factor to why you are stiff when you box.

Warm Up Properly for Boxing

Warming up properly can make a big difference when it comes to smooth boxing mechanics. If you are tense and rigid, your punches will follow that pattern. Boxing requires fluidity, athleticism and explosiveness, so if you have trouble with movement, it is recommended that you stretch before and after training.

This can be broken down into two segments: dynamic stretches that you should do before you start boxing and static stretches once you're done.

Dynamic Stretches (5-10 minutes): Perform dynamic stretches that mimic the movements you will do in boxing. These stretches help improve flexibility, range of motion, and muscle activation. Here some examples:

  • Arm Circles: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms out to the sides. Rotate your arms in small circles, gradually increasing the size of the circles.
  • Leg swings: Stand next to a wall or firm object to maintain balance. Swing one leg back and forth, then side to side in a controlled motion.
  • Torso twists: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended to the sides. Twist your torso from side to side, keeping your hips forward.
  • High Knees: Jog in place while bringing your knees toward your chest as high as possible.
  • Glute kicks: Jog in place while bringing your heels toward your glutes.

Static Stretches (5-10 minutes): After your warm-up and workout, perform static stretches to improve flexibility and cool down your muscles. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds without bouncing. Focus on stretching the major muscle groups used in boxing, including:

  • Shoulder stretch: Cross one arm over your body and gently press on the elbow to stretch the shoulder. Repeat in the other side.
  • Triceps stretch: Reach one arm above your head and bend at the elbow, gently pressing on the elbow with the opposite hand. Repeat in the other side.
  • Chest stretch: Stand up straight and clasp your hands behind your back, then straighten your arms and raise them slightly to stretch your chest muscles.
  • Quadriceps stretch: Stand on one leg and grab the ankle of the other leg, bringing the heel toward the glutes. Keep your knees together and your torso straight. Repeat in the other side.
  • Hamstring stretch: Sit on the floor with one leg extended and the other leg bent. Reach the toes of the extended leg, keeping your back straight. Repeat in the other side.

Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast

Intentional and deliberate action will always trump exaggerated movements and undirected aggression. At its core, the quote “slow is smooth and smooth is fast” represents the power of using strategic cunning.

I remember being amazed when I first saw the viral video of Micheal Jai White teaching Kimbo Slice the mechanics of punching on the set of Blood & Bone. The video racked up millions of views on YouTube and while I can't comment on the veracity of the video, Micheal raised an incredibly valuable point. By simply not creating excessive movements and tensing up, he was able to hit the target.

The point is that explosiveness, power, speed and athleticism must always be built on technique and precision. So if you have trouble hitting lightly, try slowing down your punches completely. Breaks down strikes into their basic mechanics and analyzes where the leverage is coming from along with how you are positioned when the strike is delivered. Telegraphing your punches often results in that stiffness and simply makes you more predictable in your boxing.


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