How To See Punches Coming



In the movie Spiderman, there is a scene where Toby McGuire who is playing Peter Parker, hasn’t yet discovered his superpower abilities and gets involved in a fight by the lockers at school. As his superpower abilities suddenly kick in, he realizes everything has slowed down and he can see and react to the punches being thrown at him by the school bullies, naturally this makes the altercation that much easier for him and he easily dispatches of his opponents.
So the question in this article is – how can we see punches coming? Of course we aren’t Spiderman with his amazing powers but there are a few things we can do which will increase our own ability to dodge or block a shot.


The old saying is old for a reason – its true! When fighting an opponent, looking in to their eyes will often give their game away. It also helps you to stay focused. What you don’t want to be doing is looking at your opponents gloves because you’ll end up looking at it smash into your face. By focusing on the eyes you will often get hints to what is coming, if your opponent is lining you up for a big right hand, watch his eyes instinctively widen as he(or she) gets ready to punch you. The same will happen if they’re are angry and are gearing up to throw a power punch. If they are about to hit you in the body, their eyes will often focus on where they want to punch so you will see their eyes drop to your sides/body so keep your eyes focused on your opponents eyes and read what they are doing. It will also help your peripheral vision by focusing on the eyes, you will still be able to pick up slight movements such as the shoulders turning or hands dropping signalling an incoming punch.

No one ever became good at something the 1st time they tried it, sure they may have shown a natural talent for it but there is a big difference between the two. It is essential, for whatever you are doing, to become better and more confident, you must ease yourself in first. You cannot just jump into the deep end. If you started a new job, they put you into training for a week or two or have you sit with a more experienced team member so you can learn the ropes before you start fully. If you are playing a sport, for example cricket, if you haven’t batted before, if there is a quick bowler they will bowl slowly to you, if you haven’t bowled before you will be the one bowling slowly as you get used to the mechanics of contorting your body into position to be able to bowl. The same is true for Boxing, you must start slow and gradually build up to a quicker pace. If you step into the ring for some sparring at full pace, you will not be able to handle the speed resulting in a number of bad habits being formed. Slow sparring will allow you to recognize each punch and the way it is delivered, this in turn will help you see punches coming and avoid or block shots. Picking up the movement of the hands or the slight of shoulder. Start slow and gradually go quicker as you become more comfortable with sparring. This may take a few weeks or it may take a few months but the result will be a much better defense and a better ability to see a punch coming.


Floyd Mayweather Jnr - A Defensive Wizard
Floyd Mayweather Jnr – A Defensive Wizard


Defense is a fundamental part of the game and you must drill in the fundamentals. This means you have to practice certain drills over and over again so that it becomes a part of you, do it so much that it becomes instinctive, you can do the move without even thinking about it, that is the point you want to get to. If you throw a basic one two three at a Boxer(jab, cross, hook) the Boxer is so used to defending these basic combo’s that they don’t even need to think about how they are going to defend it, they are automatically in position to block or slip these punches one after the other. So practice certain defensive moves against the most common combinations, catch a jab with your rear hand, roll the left shoulder with the high guard(or holding the telephone as some would say) for the cross and roll under the hook or slip the jab, slip the cross, roll under the hook. You can even add defense into an attacking drill, jab slip inside, jab, cross, roll under, this is pre-emptive defense, you know a punch is coming back after you have finished your punches so why not add a slip or roll after the end of every one of your combinations?


I know I am always going on about fitness when it comes to Boxing, and that’s because it is such a huge part of Boxing and I have been in the situation where I ran out of gas and when you run out of gas, your technique goes down the drain. how many times have we seen the last round of a fight develop into a slug fest because both Boxers have no energy left, they cannot even keep their guard up to block punches let alone have the energy to slip or duck under a punch. So make sure you are fit, you will not avoid punches if you are tired because you need to be mentally alert and mentally sharp to see punches coming. Run, run and run some more, you need to strengthen the legs so jogging, sprinting, swimming it will all help. I should also mention that slipping and rolling does take a lot of energy out of you so if you are going to using this, you will have to get fitter, there’s no easy way around it. And lastly….

Try to relax when fighting, you will see things that much better if you are not panicking. Keep calm and take a deep breath, if you happen to get caught with a shot, don’t go into survival mode and think you have to land two back. Step back, get out of range, clear your head, take a few deep breaths and then go land two back! If you have done the slow sparring and gradually increased the pace from there and you have got yourself fit then you won’t have a problem relaxing in the ring. Try not to worry because it only burns nervous energy which will tire you out further and much quicker which will effect your ability to not only see and react to punches, but pretty much everything else too.

If you want to view Boxers who have made an art of dodging punches then have a look at names such as Nicolino Locche, Wilfred Benitez, James Toney, George Benton, Pernell Whitaker, Willie Pep, Charley Burley, Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather Jnr – or just watch the video below which contains most of these great names!

About the author 


Boxing Coach
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Boxing Author of:

The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival

Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit!

Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle

*Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used for educational purposes and in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.


how to see punches coming

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