How to Set up Your Punches


How to Set up your Punches

An often overlooked aspect in boxing for beginners is the ability to set up your punch. People often think you just walk in and throw your shots, but doing this is likely to end up with you getting punched in the face before you even throw your shot and if you do throw your punch, you will probably be countered back immediately. So how does one set up their punches?


The jab is a great way to set up your combo, not for nothing is the jab called the can opener, because all other punches come off the jab. You can use the jab to set up any number of punches, the cross, hooking off the jab, the screw jab and slipping inside for the liver shot can all be set up by the jab. You must remember to move the feet and not your hands first, otherwise it only makes it easier for your opponent to see your punches coming.
Often, you will be faced with someone who loves to hook because they have a powerful hook. The problem some of these fighters go through though is that they do not properly set up their hook, which makes it easier for their opponent to both catch the hook and counter it. This can be especially true with the hook to the body, also known as the shovel hook or liver shot. If you throw your hook to the body without setting the punch up, the likely result is that either you get punched before your shot lands, or you get a right hand in return, and because you are using your left hook, that leaves you open for a straight right which is going to be a painful shot to handle. So again, the way you set up the hook to the liver is by using the jab first, this works because you throw a punch to occupy your opponent and then slip in the liver shot.


Another way you can set up your shots is by switching your opponent off. This can be achieved in various ways. The first is by throwing a combination quickly but only tapping your opponent in an attempt to distract them and take their mind off your last shot which is going to be coming harder. An example of this would be throw the one, two, three or jab, cross, hook quickly but only tapping your opponent, which is then immediately followed up by a hard hook to the liver which is your last shot and the power punch.
You can also set up your punches by using the short method, throw everything hard but short so your opponent easily catches everything on their gloves. This has the effect of switching your opponent off because they believe they are blocking your punches and almost relax knowing everything is going nice and easy for them. You can explode into action by using a fast and hard combo to catch them by surprise, this is best used toward the end of the round. So you might start off throwing everything short and then when you get to the last 15-30 seconds of the round, suddenly up the ante and apply the pressure.


Once you have landed a particular shot, you can then start adding in feints to set up your next shot. For example, if you land a big right cross and you know your opponent is now conscious of this and doesn’t want to get tagged again, you can then feint the right hand and throw the left hook instead, your opponent will be so worried about getting hit by the cross they might leave themselves open for the hook. You could even try doubling the right hand up, so throw two right crosses in succession instead of one because the opponent may be thinking after the cross they will receive a hook and will not be expecting another cross. The double jab feint is another good example, the first jab comes slower and only half out, the 2nd jab follows immediately much quicker and with the full extension of the arm. You’re looking for a reaction and then taking advantage of that reaction.


You can also go high, low or low, high. If I want to set up a shot to the head, I might continuously jab to the body hoping to draw the opponents guard down. Once I see their guard is dropping you then immediately switch levels and attack the head when they are expecting the body shot. This is an effective tactic, going back to previously in the article, you might tap a hook to the head and follow it up immediately with a big hook to the body, this is going high, low. The same method can be used for the jab, jab high then spear a jab into the body, jab low to the body then punch high to the head with a cross.


The options are endless, once you start sparring regularly you will have the opportunity to try all of these tricks out and many more! Find out for yourself what works and what doesn’t.

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 set up your punches, setting up your punches

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