How To Use Feints In Boxing
To become a capable boxer, you must learn to use feints. Feinting is a necessary advanced skill all Boxers will need to learn. If you are not using feints against a decent boxer, the chances are your opponent will pick off and defend pretty much every shot you throw, this is because Boxers are drilled in defending basic punches(jab, cross, hook, uppercut) and basic combinations(jab, cross, jab, cross, hook etc) so if you are throwing combo after combo without using any feints, your opponent will know exactly what is coming, making it not only easier to defend but counter attack too.
You may have seen fights where at the start of round one, the boxers will come out circling each other and throwing ‘light’ punches at each other, these are basically feints, they are throwing light punches to see how you will react to them and are feeling you out, and from your reaction they will determine their next move or set up a harder shot. Feinting is not simply throwing light punches or half punches, feints can involve a number of different body parts. Before we go over them, we’ll look at the reasons why you need to be adding feints into your boxing arsenal.
Feints hide your intentions by using deception to trick your opponent
Different types of feints can be used, depending on the situation and on your tactics
Feints should ideally be quick and provoking
Feints should be used in the appropriate distance, there is no use in a feint if you are 6ft away from your opponent
Feints can be used to either close the distance when attacking your opponent, or to draw your opponent in to counter attack
Feinting can be used to set up your opponent to respond with an attack that will create an opening for your own counter attack
Now we can go over the types of feints and the different parts of the body used for each feint:
Moving the head slightly forward and then retract to illicit a response from your opponent so you can counter punch. Moving the head side to side can also be used as a feint. Your head is the key target, so moving your head and feinting using your head should be an integral part of your Boxing.
When fighting, you are most often going to be looking into your opponents eyes so it makes sense you can also use the eyes to feint an opponent out. If you are fighting someone, you will often pick up when a big right hand is coming(left hand if the opponent is a southpaw) because instinctively many fighters will widen their eyes getting ready to unleash a bomb, or if an opponent is going to throw a straight shot to the body, often their eyes will look at your body, so use this to eye feint – look to the opponents abdomen area and throw up top instead. You can also look to the opponents feet and feint or throw a punch.
Throw a half punch to see their reaction or extend the lead arm slightly towards your opponents head or body and then retract. From their reaction, if there is one, you can determine your next punch ie if you throw a jab and your opponent ends up reaching to your jab as a block, you can either throw the double jab feint or throw the hook off the jab feint
Moving the upper body, primarily the shoulders towards your opponent or even sideways to imitate the intention of throwing a punch and then return to your normal position. An example of this would be almost shrugging your lead shoulder forward in a rolling motion in an attempt to feint the jab. Stepping in whilst doing this, so combining this with a feint of the feet is also effective.
Bending the knees slightly to lower the body to feint either a body punch or that you are winding up about to spring into a big shot such as the uppercut or screw jab. You can also stutter step or half step to feint a jab before retracting into your normal position or flex the knee of the lead leg to pretend stepping forward.
When performing your feinting movements, you must also be thinking about your own defense because you will have to take into account and anticipate a counter attack from your opponent. On top of this you will also have to consider your action after the feint. A feint should be used as preparation for your main attack and should come before throwing the punch, the follow up action after a feint should be quick to take advantage of your opponents reaction to the feint.
Arguably the most famous example of a feint was Sugar Ray Leonards bolo punch against Roberto Duran in their 2nd encounter famously labelled the ‘No Mas’ fight in 1980. whereas this was a more extravagant use of feinting(Sugar Ray Leonard would wind up his right hand and throw a left jab) Roberto Duran quit shortly after, the real reason has never been determined for Durans quitting but Leonards use of the bolo punch reportedly angered Duran enough to play a part in his not wanting to continue fighting, believing him to be clowning around and trying to make him look like a fool. Duran claimed that he quit because of stomach cramps, which started to bother him in the fifth round. He said the cramps occurred because he took off weight too quickly, then ate too much after the morning weigh-in, but his manager, Carlos Eleta, said Duran always ate that way before a fight. ‘Duran didn’t quit because of stomach cramps,’ Eleta said. “He quit because he was embarrassed.’ What is ironic is if I was to recommend one Boxer you should watch if you want to see proper Boxing feinting at work, it would be the great Roberto Duran, he was a master of feinting. Other names which come to mind are Roy Jones Jnr and Manny Pacquio. All three of these Boxers who used feints extremely effectively are also all time great boxers.
So there you have it, how to use feints and be sure you practice feinting to take your game to the next level!