How to Practice Head Movement Boxing
Head movement is an essential part of boxing, the name of the game is to hit and not get hit, that means good head movement(and good footwork) is extremely important if you want to succeed in boxing.
This means practising head movement becomes an important drill you need to prioritise. If you don’t move your head, you will not last long as it becomes predictable and easy for your opponent to line you up with their punches.
So how does one go about practising head movement for boxing? There are numerous ways you can drill this in, this includes both in sparring and in non sparring technical drills.
The first drill you can use is to practice moving around the ring whilst incorporating head movement with every shot you throw – or even head movement without any punches being thrown. You can do this by moving around the ring and adding in the slip, you might then move on and add in a double slip(inside and outside) followed by a roll. You could then continue and use a double slip followed by a double roll.
If you want to add punches in to the equation you could jab, slip, move on and then try a jab, cross, roll. The options here are limitless. Here is a basic sequence you can try whilst shadow boxing or moving around the ring to practise head movement for boxing.
Jab, inside slip
jab, cross, roll
outside slip, inside slip,
jab, cross, hook, cross, roll
outside slip, inside slip, roll
jab, cross, roll, cross, roll
jab, inside slip, screw jab, roll
jab, cross, screw jab, cross, roll
outside slip, inside slip, roll, roll
So there’s 10 simple moves you can add to help you practice head movement for boxing. The options are endless really, you are limited only by your imagination.
For sparring I like to use technical drills focusing on one aspect at a time. An easy drill you can use involved jab sparring. Both partners are only allowed to throw the jab, but every jab must be followed by a movement of the head. For instance jab, inside slip or jab, outside slip. You can also use jab, duck or jab, dip out. A dip out is ducking whilst moving out, so the back foot moves you out of range as you dip or duck after the jab. You don’t even have to throw jabs at the head if you want to use this drill for beginners, you can just aim punches at the shoulder or waist. Not only is it a great technical drill but it is also a great drill for beginners learning to implement boxing fundamentals.
A good rule of thumb when practising head movement is to duck or slip after the jab and roll after the cross or hook – the uppercut would also be followed by a roll. When rolling under punches try to imagine making the shape of the letter ‘U’. When slipping an easy way to visualise the moment required for slipping is ‘shoulders to the floor’. So a double slip, double roll becomes a 4 way movement using ‘shoulders to the floor, shoulders to the floor, U shape with the head, U shape with the head’.
Add this into your training routine, drill in head movement and it second nature. You most often get caught with counter shots when you are not moving your head so if you know a punch is going to be coming back at you after you have thrown your combo – move your head!
Getting into a rhythm is very important when you want to be effortlessly moving the head, if you are walking forwards flat footed, moving the head is going to be more taxing but if you are moving on the balls of the feet, bouncing and slipping and rolling, it comes a rhythm and makes one move flow much more seamlessly from the other.
There are many examples of great boxers you can study if you want to see how the defensive wizards did it. Pernell Whitaker, Nicolino Locche, Wilfred Benitez, Muhammad Ali are just four examples you can use to study good head movement.